The Social Media Chutzpah Hit List

Recently, I was lunching at Chez Panera when I got rubbed the wrong way. No, it wasn’t you, Phoebe the Cashier – you’re aces in my book. It was the guy who asked for a cup of water and then filled with Dr. Pepper at the soda dispenser. His poor choice in soft drinks aside, who does that? The guy buys a $12 lunch and he thinks it entitles him to free soda, six ounces at a time? Seriously, who are these people?

senifeld meme

After a few dozen head shakes and eye rolls, my thoughts turned – as they inevitably do – to social media. What are some of the ballsy, unethical or just plain rude techniques employed on various social media platforms? What rubs me the wrong way? What pisses me off?

This is my no means a comprehensive list; I hope you’ll add your thoughts in the comments below:

  • Auto DMs. All of them. Without exception.
  • LinkedIn invites without context
  • Instagramming every meal (sometimes a sandwich is just a sandwich)
  • Private conversations held in public forums. Just because I’m Facebook friends with two girls from high school doesn’t mean I need to see the back-and-forth of their Friday night planning.
  • Calling yourself a “guru,” “ninja,” or “tsar.” (Oddly, “czar” is ok).
  • Not crediting your source material
  • Emoticons. If you can’t say what you mean with words, it’s not worth saying.
  • Synching the same message across multiple platforms
  • Broadcasting without listening or engaging
  • Repeating the same message over and over again. If I wanted to hear a broken record, I’d own a record player…and records. Yeah, I’m going to have to come up with a new metaphor.
  • Outdated technology metaphors. This list is crashing like my Treo 650…am I right, folks?
  • Debating politics on Facebook. No one has ever changed his or her vote because of a well-worded wall post.
  • Censoring criticism (or simply dissenting opinions) on the pages you manage
  • Speeling misstakes
  •  Using interns to run a corporate social media account
  • #TeamFollowBack
  • Using a Yiddish word in your title without providing a definition
  • No avatar (or profile picture)
  • An avatar that’s a logo (unless you’re managing a corporate account)
  • An avatar that’s a cartoon version of you. Hey, I like Mad Men and the Simpsons as much as anyone, but my avatar is my real-life obnoxious face for a reason.
  • An avatar that is from 15 years and/or 85 pounds ago. This isn’t online dating.
  • An avatar that has someone else in it.
  • An avatar that has someone else poorly cropped out of it. Really? You can’t find *one* decent headshot?
  • Misunderstanding your network’s privacy settings. I’m looking at you, Randi.
  • Abusing #hashtags because you #think they’re #fun. They’re #not. And you’re not #cool.
  • Asking for RTs all the time (every once in a while is cool, but don’t be the boy or girl who cried wolf). Side note: please RT this post!
  • Deleting your mistake in the hopes that no one saw it. This is the internet. Someone saw it. And screen capped it. And now that mistake has been posted somewhere else. Sorry.
  • Buying followers
  • Sharing overly personal details on your professional networks (sharing professional details on personal networks isn’t always advisable, but it’s rarely as obnoxious)
  • Connecting on LinkedIn with someone you don’t really know and/or with whom you have not worked
  • Complaining about those brands that have wronged you without ever praising those who have done right by you
  • Vaguebooking
  • Unfriending or disconnecting in the heat of the moment. Even with an ex.
  • Over-sharing your Foursquare check-ins
  • Mistaking social media buzz for a verified news source.
  • Humblebragging without ironically pointing out your own Humblebrag
  • Mocking someone’s religious or political beliefs. Disagreement is cool. Debate is usually OK. But there’s a reason we don’t call this “anti-social networking.”
  • Anti-social networking
  • Not posting a bio or “about me” page
  • Consuming without adding to the discussion. Read an interesting blog post? Add a comment (hint, hint).
  • Shameless self-promotion
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The Day I Broke the Twitters

Yesterday, Twitter had a well-publicized downage, causing many discombobulated social media addicts to step away from their smartphones and catch a rare glimpse of that yellow ball of hot light in the sky. Needless to say, #whiletwitterwasdown quickly became a trending topic and speculation was rampant about how and why such a devastating “epic fail” could happen.

While the official story is that the two-hour outage was caused by a “noteworthy” double failure in Twitter’s data center, I can smell a ruse a mile away. You see, friends, Twitter’s data center is functioning perfectly. I know this because I know what really happened.

Twitter is covering up the real culprit: me.

Yesterday morning I tweeted a note about JC Penny’s Foursquare promotion that will donate $1 to the USO for every check-in through July 31. As you’d expect when social media titans collide (a major retailer, the world’s largest location-based application, a nationally-renowned charity and yours truly), the ReTweets came faster and furiouser than a Vin Diesel car chase.

That’s 32 (and counting) RTs in one day! Though I have no quantitative proof, I have it under good authority that I smashed Twitter’s RT record. The people from the Guinness Book are on their way over. Mr. Ripley has left several voicemails. I’m kind of a big deal.

In all seriousness, one seemingly innocuous tweet reached nearly 50,000 people, which *is* a big deal for someone with “only” 582 followers. While my tweet was merely intended to call attention to the meeting of two subjects about which I am passionate (social media and philanthropy), my name, brand and ideas were suddenly in front of thousands. Pretty cool, huh?

The takeaway is that whether you believe Twitter is a broadcast medium, a two-way conversation mechanism or simply the quickest way to stay in touch with what’s happening around our increasingly small world, using it to share your passions – while sourcing your content and giving shout-outs as appropriate – can yield surprising benefits. I’ve picked up a bunch of new followers in the past day (approximately 2% of my total followers). And, let’s not forget, the huge Klout bump I could expect from having my Tweet shared all over the interwebs.

What’s that? My Klout score decreased 0.15 since yesterday? Stupid Klout…

Four Reasons to Forsake Forecast

Last week, I went on a family vacation in Antigua. Since I’m a hopeless social media addict without an international iPhone data plan, I panicked – logically – about being disconnected from all my online personas. While I knew HootSuite would allow me to pre-schedule Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn posts before leaving the country, what about my location-based check-ins? Why wasn’t there an app that would allow me to schedule a check-in before arriving at a specific location?

That’s when I discovered Forecast, a service that bills itself as “a fun and simple way for friends to share where they’re going.” Not only would the application allow me to check in via Foursquare at a place and time in the future, but it would push check-ins to Twitter or Facebook with the click of a button (loyal readers – hi mom! – know I’m not a fan of this practice, but it is occasionally relevant).

Despite its lofty goals and my high expectations, Forecast was a significant disappointment. Here are four reasons why:

1. Scheduled Updates and Accompanying Updates are Pushed Separately – take a look at this Tweet:


On February 28, I scheduled a check-in for March 9 – a time I expected to be out of both cell and data range. I scheduled the update to be pushed to Twitter. And it was…on February 28! Can you think of a less relevant Tweet? If Forecast can schedule my check-in for a specific time at a specific place, shouldn’t it also be able to synch the corresponding Twitter update?

2. It’s Mobile-Based Only – while scheduling check-ins on-the-go is a convenient feature, why can’t I schedule them from my laptop as well? Forecast’s non-mobile display is a largely blank and aesthetically unpleasant display; why did its developers ignore static users?

3. It’s Not What it Claims to Be – Check out this push notification:

Instead of automatically checking me in to my location, Forecast asked me if I was actually at the location…then it required me to open the app to verify my location…and only then would it actually check me in! Without data (which I purchased midway through my trip) or Wi-Fi, I would never have received this notification, and thus, would never have been checked in. If I want a reminder to check in to specific locations, it’s much easier to use my native Calendar app than it is to program through Forecast’s bulky interface.

4. It’s All Sizzle and No Substancewith esteemed authorities like Mashable promoting the service as one of the “Hot Apps to Watch at SXSW 2012,” Forecast should have something new to offer. But hey, why develop your product when you can just hire a good publicist, right?

*****

To Forecast’s credit, I Tweeted a complaint about problem #1 and received an @ reply within minutes. But a responsive community manager isn’t enough to smooth over the inherent flaws in Forecast’s platform (especially since I was asked for recommended changes and then never heard back from said community manager).

Forecast is an interesting idea with the potential to become a valuable service. But until its designers undertake some substantial remodeling, I’m afraid it will remain an unFOREtunate and largely FOREgettable application.

Ugh. Word play. Please FOREgive me.

Why I’m Opting Out of #FollowFriday

Any social media expert/ninja/guru worth his or her salt will tell you that engagement is the key to getting results out of online activities. And yet, at the end of every work week, the Twitterati collectively engage in one of the least personalized and most automated of interweb interactions.

I’m talking about #FollowFriday. And I want out.

Last Friday, as my stream was flooded with #FF messages, I tweeted out a thought:

Millions of people are tagged each week in #FF posts. That sounds like a nice idea, but  most of the Tweets are really just a list of names without context. If I want to know who you’re following, I’ll visit your profile page. I believe that – for many of these users – #FF is a ruse by which they fish for reciprocation; after all, it’s impolite to not return a compliment (or at least say thank you). #FollowFriday – once a way to learn about new users on an emerging social media platform – has devolved into a system in which people solicit ReTweets and mentions without generating useful content.

Of course, not every #FF is a selfish act masquerading as benevolence. My friend, Jen Price, tweeted at me that she enjoys the practice. “When #FF is done well, with a reason for following, I find new people to follow. I appreciate the introductions to new folks.”

Jen is right…when people share details and make introductions, #FollowFriday can be a valuable tool. It’s just that 99% of #FF messages ignore that basic common sense. I’ve seen some people use the hashtag #WhyIFollow, while including a bit about the person. Ephraim Gopin has been known to use the hashtag #YFF (the Y is for WHY) and do the same thing. Aren’t these tactics more helpful?

Even after acknowledging the small numbers of folks who do it “right,” the sheer majority of bad #FF Tweets has pushed me to the breaking point. I appreciate each and every time I’m mentioned in someone’s #FollowFriday tweet, but please know that I will never again publicly thank you or RT your mention. It’s not that I don’t care…it’s not even that I don’t think you legitimately enjoy the content I generate. It’s just that I think there’s a more genuine way to point your audience in my direction, especially if you think my Tweets, blog posts and/or ideas would interest them.

Groucho Marx once famously said that he would never be part of any club that would have him as a member. The #FF Brigade is actively evangelical and would accept anyone with its ranks…isn’t that reason enough to be wary?

What do YOU think? Do you participate in #FollowFriday? Do you RT your #FF mentions? Why or why not?

The Only Social Media Resolution that Matters

This week I’ve read scores of articles and blog posts listing year-end social media resolutions, tips, tricks, best/worst strategies and more. On the cusp of the New Year, it’s normal to look back and look forward, but the trend is more than a little overwhelming. That’s why I’ll make it easy for you; there’s one thing you should resolve to do in your social media efforts, one word that runs through all of 2011’s best practices and will be part of every single social media success story in 2012.

That word is engagement.

Perhaps it’s not earth shattering, but in 2012, individuals and brands can no longer afford to just “be on” social media. Using social media platforms to simply broadcast a message is unacceptable; those who put effort into building their communities will (and already do) matter more than the ones that are only interested in selling and promoting.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you can’t do social media well without being social.

Lose your automations. Give credit for your inspirations. Follow/friend/circle liberally…but not so liberally that you miss potentially interesting content. Listen more than you talk. Show gratitude. Be serious without taking yourself too seriously.

There are hundreds (thousands?) of social media platforms, and it’s likely that 2012 will see the birth of many more. With a million channels to connect, it’s easy to forget that there’s only one way to build something that matters. Engage and you will reap the rewards.

Happy New Year, friends. I hope to hear more from you in 2012 than you hear from me…and I wish you and your families happiness, health and success.

NAUGHTY OR NICE: Credit Where it’s Due

Note: this week, I’ll be examining trends in social media and/or philanthropy and attributing a “naughty” or “nice” rating to them. This is the fifth and (thankfully) final installment.

Pardon my French, but Twitter is one big circle jerk.

Maybe that’s overly crude, but I think you know what I mean. A particularly interesting or valuable link can be shared dozens, sometimes even hundreds or thousands of time. When you follow many people in a specific sphere of influence, it often seems like the same people are sharing the same links from the same websites over and over again. Except there’s a major difference in how some of us share links, and even though it can feel like there’s no law on the “Wild West Internet,” there’s one rule that too many people have no problem breaking.

If you didn’t write it, credit the person who did. No exceptions.

Let’s examine how a specific link was shared by two different Twitter accounts today:

5 Social Media Articles to Unwrap and Enjoy Today j.mp/uJtYwn via @pushingsocial

— Stanford Smith (@pushingsocial) December 23, 2011

Stanford Smith writes for (and runs?) Pushing Social. He wrote the article and Tweeted the link, including his own handle. Was that redundant? Perhaps…but perhaps not when you consider that Michael Corley read Stanford’s post and thought it was valuable enough to Tweet WITHOUT ATTRIBUTION.

I have nothing against Michael Corley and feel a little bad for calling him out like this. Michael, if this gets back to you, I hope you realize two things: 1) it’s not personal; and 2) it’s unlikely that anyone besides the two of us know about this blog post.

I realize that 140 characters is a significant limit, but there’s always room to credit an author. Sometimes you want to squeeze an editorial comment into your Tweet, but I promise, your audience does not appreciate your personal opinion nearly as much as the writer appreciates getting recognized for his or her efforts. In fact, I believe that leaving out the author (or at least, the website) from your Tweet is akin to plagiarism.

That’s right, I said it. Plaigiarism. It’s an ugly word, huh?

Image copywright is likely owned by Fox and/or Matt Groening. But who cares, right? It's the internet. I invented Bart Simpson!

I urge you to remember this lesson the next time you share a link on Twitter. Writing is a cumbersome, often unrewarding task. Even if you’re not technically claiming credit for someone else’s work, an unattributed link *feels* like that to the author. Believe me, linking to an article without crediting its creator is a naughty, naughty no-no.

It’s the season of giving. If you think something is valuable enough to share, don’t be a Scrooge and deprive credit from its source.

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Whatever and however you celebrate, I hope you and your family have a warm, safe and happy holiday season. Thanks for reading!

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Previously in “Naughty or Nice”:
12/19 – Listing your Klout score on your resume

12/20 – Printing your face on a business card

12/21 – Social Media Interns

12/22 – Breaking a Promise

NAUGHTY OR NICE: Social Media Interns

Note: this week, I’ll be examining trends in social media and/or philanthropy and attributing a “naughty” or “nice” rating to them. This is the third of five reviews.

Last week, I asked my Twitter followers to help me identify some naughty or nice trends for this series. One follower was especially exuberant about her topic – unpaid interns running a company’s social media presence. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you six passionate comments from Vik Gill:

  • “Nonprofits so cash-strapped they have to use unpaid interns for social media [is a] bad idea!”
  • “Why would you trust the social media presence of your business to somebody who has no social media work experience?”
  • “The fact that a student has been playing around on Twitter and Facebook does not a social media expert make.”
  • “Unless you are giving interns the most trivial tasks, the amount of damage they can do to your brand is unquantifiable.”
  • “How much do you really know about social media if you think someone with no experience is the best person to build your brand?”
  • “Using social media interns creates limitations that arise from a business model that requires free labour to sustain it.”

I’ll cut Vik some slack for the improper spelling of “labor” because she’s British and they think they invented the language.

Do you really want this "dude" to be the online voice for your brand?

Vik’s points are spot-on. When we are uncomfortable with a task, we instinctively want to stick the responsibility on someone else. Interns are young, so they know computers; interns are free, so it makes sense to assign them the duties that don’t generate any revenue.

And if you accept those conclusions, I look forward to your 2012 tales from the unemployment line.

It’s easy to assign your interns (or even younger/entry level employees) to social media. It may even seem logical to do so. But social media is increasingly becoming the way corporations, nonprofits, peer groups, causes and more engage their audiences. Our online ambassadors need to be passionate and knowledgeable if they hope to grow and indoctrinate supporters. Interns often have enthusiasm, but it’s not their job to personally invest…it’s their job to figure out what they’re good at and what they want to do with their professional lives.

At the same time, it’s hard to determine social media ROI. It can often feel like we’re shouting into the ether. It may even seem like our Tweets and posts and likes and shares are often a colossal waste of time. But they’re not. One fan’s passion can spread to thousands of his or her peers. It’s difficult to do social media well, but is it any harder than a hundred other tasks in our competitive marketplace? Skimping on social media is just a cop-out for business leaders afraid to invest in something they don’t completely understand.

As 2011 draws to a close, it’s comforting to see that most successful brands have accepted the fact that not doing social media means money left on the table. In 2012, here’s hoping that more will realize that doing it incorrectly can jeopardize their future.

Oh, and if you couldn’t figure it out, using interns to run your social media community is a big, fat naughty!

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Previously in “Naughty or Nice”:
12/19 – Listing your Klout score on your resume

12/20 – Printing your face on a business card

NAUGHTY OR NICE: Printing Your Face on a Business Card

Note: this week, I’ll be examining trends in social media and/or philanthropy and attributing a “naughty” or “nice” rating to them. This is the second of five reviews.

Remember that scene in American Psycho where Patrick Bateman and friends swap business cards and swoon over “Bone” backgrounds and “Silian Rail” lettering? A lot has changed since Wall Street of the 1980s – and it hasn’t all been because of the OWS movement.

In today’s business world, we’re all looking for an edge…yet most of us overlook the competitive advantage we can gain from our business cards. Rather than order up another batch of 500 boring corporate cards from Office Services, why aren’t more of us using customization to better create a lasting impression?

What better way to be remembered than by printing your face on your business card?

A few months ago, I used an About.Me perk to order business cards from moo.com. Instead of being forced to use the same corporate information as all of my colleagues, I could completely customize the card’s text. I inserted a QR code to direct people straight to a web page of my choosing. And while there were hundreds of gallery options for the flip side of my card, I decided to let my face do the talking.

As you can see above, I was so enthralled with my custom card that I designed and printed another version. Now, I have a standard size card AND a “mini” card. Again, it’s all about being remembered, so if we’re already thinking outside the box, why not experiment with different images and sizes?

When I hand someone my custom business card, I *always* get a reaction…and most of the time it’s positive. Even if our conversation wasn’t especially memorable, I can count on my card triggering a bit of recognition a day, week or month later. Sure, the words that come out of my mouth may be boring, but who can forget this face?

Don’t we all want to stand out? Don’t we all want to be remembered? While unconventional, my custom business cards are both professional and quirky – actually, they’re a lot like me.

That’s why I say that printing your face on a business card is NICE.

What do you think? Am I participating in an exercise in vanity? Am I being more foolish than innovative? Should Patrick Bateman invite me over for a conversation on 80s pop music? I want to hear your thoughts.

Coming tomorrow: an analysis of who should be running your company’s social media community.

Previously in “Naughty or Nice”:
12/19 – Listing your Klout score on your resume


NAUGHTY OR NICE: Listing Your Klout Score on Your Resume

Note: this week, I’ll be examining trends in social media and/or philanthropy and attributing a “naughty” or “nice” rating to them. This is the first of my five reviews.

These days, you don’t have to troll much on the internet to find someone ranting about Klout. Though it was widely well received upon launch, an increasing number of critics are popping about of the woodwork, declaring the online influence metric unethical and even opting out of the rating system. Still, as long as research points to a clear correlation between high Klout scores and CTR, page views, inbound links, etc, it’s safe to say the controversial service isn’t disappearing anytime soon.

Since I try to update my resume annually (even when I’m happily employed), I recently considered adding my modest Klout score to the standard name, address, contact information section. I already list my LinkedIn custom URL, which I know has been accessed by prospective employers in the past. Why not, I wondered, also let hiring managers know that I have been independently rated as having an “above average” online influence?

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one pondering that question, because last week I stumbled upon the #happo (Help a PR Pro Out) Twitter chat and the “Klout on the resume” issue was raised. To my surprise, it seemed like the majority of chatters thought listing one’s Klout score on a resume was a bad idea…and a few people went so far as to suggest it could hurt a prospect chances to secure an interview or get hired.

Why the overwhelming sentiment against Klout?

After reading his Tweets, I engaged Arik Hanson to get some answers. Arik, whose website offers some excellent PR content, was kind enough to simplify his take into this 140-character bite: “[Klout] A) is not entirely reputable/credible, B) screams “look at how cool I am”, and C) has little/nothing to do w/job performance.”

I pressed Arik further, asking him if his opinion would change if he were hiring for a job that required social media savvy (a community manager, for example). Wouldn’t a Klout score then be a good metric for evaluating applicants? Arik said that, for him, it still would not be valuable…but he deferred to Amber Naslund for her expert advice.

Amber, a social strategist and author, confirmed Arik’s take. She explained that “Community management success does not equal volume of activity, which is what [Klout] tracks.”

Since the Klout debate has only just begun, and early public opinion seems to be decidedly against, I have decided to forgo the addition of my score on my 2012 resume.

So if you’re keeping score at home, kiddos, listing your Klout score on your resume? That’s NAUGHTY.

What do you think? Has anyone had any positive or negative experiences listing a Klout score on his or her resume? So far, I’ve only heard about theoretical…but I’d love to know if anyone stumbled across this in real life.

Stop back tomorrow for an examination of a thoroughly modern take on personalizing your business cards.

Don’t Thank Me for ‘Favoriting’ Your Tweet

NEWS FLASH: there’s a lot of mean spirited activity on the internet. People and brands – especially popular ones – are easy targets for “haters” and “trolls” who enjoy nothing more than being part of destructive mockery. If social media is truly about social interaction, you’d think I’d be in favor of any effort to exhibit good manners during online interactions. And that’s true…with one exception.

For the love of all that’s holy, don’t thank me for “favoriting” your Tweets.

Like many social media addicts, I check Twitter dozens of times throughout each day. It’s not uncommon for hundreds of Tweets to have filled in my timeline between visits and there’s no way for me to click on every link and read every story without being completely unproductive in my offline life. My solution: click “favorite” on those tweets that seem especially interesting, then read the links when I have time to digest them. Pretty logical, right?

Yet recently, perhaps in response to the growing anti-social masses, I’ve received more and more “Thank you for favoriting my Tweet” mentions. Besides the superfluous verbiage on my timeline, these people are missing the point – I favorited your Tweet because you shared solid content…don’t go wasting my time now!

There is obvious value in thanking someone for a ReTweet or mention, because that’s an intentional interaction. When someone RTs you, they promote you and your brand across their network…it is validation, acceptance and applause. When someone favorites your Tweet, however, you can’t know their motives.

Like most things social media, a little help from Inspector Google revealed I’m not the first to think about what a favorited Tweet really means. Mark Suster polled his followers and found that 90%+ use “favorite” like I do – as a way to save something to read later. 5% said to really “like” something (the way folks commonly use Facebook’s “like” feature) and 5% said “a bit of both.”

My own informal Twitter research yielded similar results. Tweeps Jennifer Price and Nick Savarese both said they use the favorite button as a bookmarking tool so they can read links later. Jen, a really smart philanthropy consultant and blogger, said she stopped using the favorite button because “I was getting so many ‘thanks for liking/supporting’ type of tweets” that were “creeping me out.”

Yes, my sample size was hardly reflective of the vast Twitterverse, and Suster admits that his was far from a comprehensive study. Yet I think the answers we both found are a fair representation of how people use the Twitter favorite button.

If we’re all simply favoriting Tweets as a way of adding something to our to-do list, is that really worthy of a thank you? Are the thankers simply overcompensating for widespread anti-social behavior? Are they desperately seeking validation? Or perhaps I’m being too harsh on them? Should good manners always be welcomed, no matter what?

What do you think?