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These Tools are Made for Talking

As excited as you may be with cross-publishing Facebook apps, Seesmic, Ping.fm, Posterous, TweetDeck, TubeMogul, Blip.TV, FriendFeed and the latest, Google Buzz — which automatically move what we say from one social media network to another — until these tools become as good at listening as they are at talking, they also bring with them a degree of risk that warrants acknowledgment.

When I demo all these services in my Social Media Boot Camp, people get excited. Their first reaction is that they’ll be able to leverage these tools to syndicate their messages everywhere. After the eyes glaze over with just how many places there are to communicate on the social web, at first blush these tools appear to be a magic bullet for social media engagement.

The problem is, these tools are made for talking. And that’s just what they do. As just like that Nancy Sinatra song, if you’re not careful, one of these days these tools are going to walk all over you.

Some, like Seesmic and TweetDeck, are starting to include some degree of listening. But for the most part, these tools make it easy to talk, or perhaps I should say scream, for the highest mountain through as many canyons as possible.

Syndication tools will continue to improve, but as it stands, there’s no one tool that allows you to syndicate what you say and get everything you need to hear back, without significant blind spots. In fact, I’ve often thought they can may actually work against you by serving as social media ear plugs, or creating duplicate post feedback, as we FriendFeed and Twitter App our way into our very own echo chambers.

If you rely on these services to display your content on multiple social media networks automatically, it is much more likely you’ll forget to actually log into Linkedin or Facebook in a reasonable amount of time to see if you get questions that deserve a reply. If you have, and don’t respond, you’re using social media as a publishing platform, instead of building stronger relationships with people and organizations.

As long as you remember to listen, these tools do offer new efficiencies. But remember, you can’t have conversations if you don’t listen to what people have to say. And as it stands now, social media syndication tools need to learn to listen as well as they talk.

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