Engagement is a common buzzword in social networking. Ironically, it's easy to neglect.

You're engaging as many people as possible in really fun, interesting, stimulating ways, right? 😉

To persistently engage, you must:

  • Answer all replies
  • Thank people for RTs
  • Answer all DM's

When you respond, do it:

  • Quickly
  • Personally
  • Creatively

Don't Make The Social Networking Mistake I Made

Let me whine for a second. I now have 16k Twitter followers. And here's what happens when I tweet:

  1. I tweet, awesome.
  2. I'm watching and I might get 25 replies, or 10 retweets in 30 seconds.
  3. Whoa. I mean, I had time to tweet, but do I have time to respond to every reply?

I know: wah.

The mistake I made was I got egotistical and busy and I left the real Twitter party. I saw people replying to me and read them but didn't respond to most of it.

Unfortunately, people don't know that I read or enjoyed their tweet. They think I'm too busy or I don't care. That's bad networking on my part.

The Fall-Out From Disengaging

My followers engaged me less. People weren't responding to my tweets.

I thought, "What happened? Is something wrong with Twitter? Or was it something I said?"

I think it was because I had became too distant.

Serendipitously, a talented friend inspired me to finally listen to Gary Vaynerchuk. I watched all his keynote videos one afternoon. I discovered that Gary personally replies to his thousands of emails. Some think he's crazy to do so, but he says it means so much to them that he replied, and he gets business intelligence that way too.

If you're popular in social media/social networking and you care about your followers, you must talk to them. That takes a lot of time and energy. But you're building a lot of relationships. And if you don't like engaging, you shouldn't be social networking.

It'll stretch you. Or you'll realize you need a smaller network. Or your influence, despite your follower count, will shrink.

How To Persistently Engage

  • You may get overwhelmed but do as much replying as you can. Read and reply to all your replies.
  • Follow back everybody that engages you. If someone looks unfamiliar, go to their page and follow them. You get to know them more that way- I might do that several times with a new person until I remember them.
  • Don't autofollow because it's lazy and impersonal and you don't want to follow all those bots that are following people.

I started doing this and people started responding more. Ohhhh, surprise! When you engage, people engage back!

That's how you build and maintain the social capital that is the power of your network.

Warmth and Social Capital

Just like email, if you don't email your list for too long, the list goes cold and unresponsive. When you finally do email them, they don't remember you and you end up with spam reports. In the same way, you need to keep your network warm and strong with persistent engagement.

The real size of your effective network is not sheer follower count. It's a combination of:

  • Reach
  • Responsiveness
  • Perceived Authority

The Results Of Persistent Engagement

The benefits are, the more your list is engaged with you:

  • More people see your conversations and reply to you,
  • More people retweet you,
  • More people follow you, and
  • More opportunities come from these people.

Social Networking People are People Too

Don't forget just because it's digital, just because you're at your computer instead of standing face to face, social networking is still real people, real networking, real relationships, and real opportunities.

Talk to them.

(Ed.: related reading: Theres More To Life Than Links & Sex and What is Most Important to Your Personal Brand? Fans or Financial Stability?)