A few weeks ago, I wrote a post talking about how, even in the era of social media, journalists don’t care what their readers think. Yesterday, I came across this article at Inc., where Jeff Haden, a business and technology writer for that small business magazine , a professional ghost writer, and a wedding photographer, acknowledged that maybe he’s using Twitter the wrong way.

Kudos to Mr. Haden for seeing that he can use help. But so far, shame on him for not doing anything about it.

Haden talks about how he uses his Twitter account, but if you go there you’ll see that he’s following 2 people (the woman who woke him up to the mistakes he’s making and another guy who also wrote in). Update: On December 6, Jeff Haden started following me on Twitter. Thanks, Jeff!

So let’s start here: while there’s not a “right” way to use Twitter and other social networking/social media sites, if you say you’re planning to start following people and don’t, you immediately look bad. And as both Jeff Haden and some of his commenters point out—and WHOOPS! The comments have all been deleted!—that’s bad for your reputation.

Haden frames his question far more pragmatically than most—a testimony to his open-mindedness. He understands that a large part of what he’s trying to do through Twitter is perform Search Engine Optimization. SEO is an incredibly complex beast. No part of it is difficult, and anyone with time and some writing and analytic skills can do it without paying people like us (although we’re pretty good at it and I’m always happy to talk about Our Search Engine Optimization Philosophy). But there’s SO MUCH that goes into it, the “with time” part becomes unwieldy for anyone who’s doing something else to make a living.

Part two: the other thing Haden talks about is “reputation management”, which is related to and most effectively practiced by (but still different than), you guessed it … SEO. So let’s layer than on.

Then there’s the REALLY hard part: Having people engage.

Jeff Haden is in a very fortunate position. By virtue of his association with Inc., he can get people to comment on his work (let me reiterate that Haden ASKED for comments and then either he or someone at Inc. deleted them—an incredibly bad move), follow him, etc. All of that helps his … darn, here it is again … SEO. Success breeds success, and Haden’s, deserved or otherwise, has the jump start that Inc. provides. Would he have his current 1669 Twitter followers without Inc. having made that happen? In a word, no. The point? Jeff Haden isn’t being followed so much as the guy who people happened to read at Inc. is being followed.

My goal isn’t to pick on Jeff Haden. Although … Hello, Inc.? There’s a better “Jeff ” available for a column on small business and technology!. In fact, I genuinely hope Jeff Haden takes away from this post that journalists (or people who are perceived as “that kind of authoritative” by their readers) have a responsibility to engage, for real. Pontificating won’t work in social media, and journalists need to care what their readers think, too.

If you’re listening, Mr. Haden, THAT’S business change.

David Aldridge, do I still have your attention?

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