Most modern brands and businesses want a vibrant social media marketing campaign. But, figuring out the secret sauce of using your social media networks to engage users without annoying them isn’t always an easy task. A recent article by Avi Dan on reveals some fascinating research that suggests brands, like children in the 1950s, should only speak when spoken to.

“The majority of consumers, 64%, insist that they want companies to respond to social comments only when spoken to,” writes Dan. This is significant when viewed alongside the fact that, “51% of consumers simply do not want companies to eavesdrop on their conversations and 43% believe that monitoring is an intrusion on their privacy.”

So how do you make new connections if reaching out is viewed negatively? Understand the context in which your brand is being mentioned through social media. Dan suggests asking, “Are consumers reaching out to you directly or just venting to their friends? If the customer doesn’t invite you to participate in the conversation, keep your distance. Remember that their context—not yours—is driving their expectations of a response.”

Additionally, for those instances when you do choose to engage, explain why you’re using social media software to monitor conversation in the first place. Dan writes, “Explain why you are listening. Make clear that your primary reason for doing so is to provide the best possible product or service to customers.”

Social media carves a delicate line between people’s public and private worlds. As Uncle Ben so famously taught Peter Parker, “with great power comes great responsibility.” Sometimes , he most responsible thing to do is to just shut up and listen.

Have you ever entered a social media conversation where you didn’t feel too welcome? What strategies did you use to make your future interactions more positive?

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