Anyone can rather easily setup a free Blog, a free web page or attract many thousands of followers on Twitter. While its true that its only the stars like Taylor Swift that have millions of followers, for her its 2,508,682. There are plenty of niche experts I follow that have in the range of 30,000 - 70,000 listeners. The place I grew up had a population of 30,000. I think its amazing a person can post a short string of text and instantly reach out to so many for free.
Are they all listening at any given moment? Not very likely which is why I spread out my messages over a few days during various parts of the day, morning, afternoon, evening and middle of the night. Then I'm sure to catch even users other side of the globe. The last hub I promoted on Twitter got me 140 total hits out of my 396 followers according to bit.ly stats! 35% is a great number in my opinion :-) It was so high because I chose a topic that was the #1 trending topic at the time and I did get retweeted about 7 times too, to small groups of users. A more typical response I think may be around 7%.
Now IF you had 30k users and got a 7% response rate you would have 2,100 users interested in your topic for free. This is over a 1-3 day period the way I do this. If I compare this to the typical .5% click through rate for AdSense ads I think Social Marketing proves its self to be quite valuable indeed!
Are they listening you ask? I think so if you are engaging them with a subject that interests them. I try and tell them twits exactly what it is I am posting, and NEVER try and trick anyone.
Before the internet how was it possible for the average person to easily reach out to hundreds, thousands or possibly even millions of users for very little or not cost? It really wasn't. Well trusted bloggers have as much or more influence than major media outlets. So much so that new laws have recently been passed to govern them scary bloggers. I do think the internet gives the average person a voice they wouldn't otherwise have. I also think the average person is usually clueless as to how to best utilize this new found power.