‘We have two ears and one mouth so we may listen more and talk the less.’

– Epictetus, ancient Greek philosopher

Imagine yourself at a business cocktail party, one of those industry networking affairs. You are standing there having an interesting conversation about a topic that you and a few industry acquaintances share a common interest in. Imagine someone who just arrived at the party bursting straight into the middle of your conversation just so they could tell you about all the fabulous deals their business is offering that week.

You would look at the interloper as if he were deranged. Yet, that is precisely how so many brands have thus far treated the social media party. Instead of first stopping to listen to what everyone else is talking about, they simply start broadcasting their own message.

Opportunities arise in many forms: sometimes when someone asks a question; other times when they are sharing a story we know more details about.

Whatever form the conversation takes, listen for ways to make people feel more a part of the community. Listen for opportunities to respond with jokes, tips or anything that has the feeling of gossip (again, in the broadest sense). Offer up anything relevant that can keep the buzz of the party going, and ingratiate yourself as a valuable member of the conversation.

Sometimes the smallest of exchanges of helpful advice can go the furthest.

Monitor More than Your Brand

While there are many companies out ...

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