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  • Outdated technology metaphors.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

How and Why to Personalize your LinkedIn Invitations

A Tweet I recently faved is the logical follow-up to yesterday’s post about when one should like, follow and/or connect with a new contact through social media:

I don’t know Arik Hanson. I don’t know Lisa Grimm. I barely know of Trista Harris, (a fundraising pro I follow on Twitter) whose RT helped me discover these sage words. But none of that matters, because widespread sharing in social media means that it’s the message – not the messenger – that matters most.

Lisa Tweeted out her frustrations about receiving LinkedIn invitation connections from unknown people, something that I’m confident has happened to many of us. Arik followed up Lisa’s vent with a solid recommendation. And thus, problem met solution and they lived happily ever after.

Too simple? OK, let’s re-examine my LinkedIn connection criteria:

Have we worked together, either for the same employer or on a common project? Have we talked about working together? Did we swap business cards as more than just a courteous formality, but as a means to ensure we could stay in touch?

If I invite a new contact to connect, he or she has met one or more of the above criteria, and thus – despite my generic name – they are likely to remember me and appreciate the reason for my invitation. But even if that weren’t important, does a little extra friendliness ever hurt? It takes just seconds to change the boring, default LinkedIn verbiage into something that’s professional, personal and relevant. For example, why do this:

When I can do this instead?

I met Jay Frost at the Association of Fundraising Professionals conference, and wanted to stay in touch with him because of his passion for philanthropy, willingness to innovate and connections in the field. In case my name didn’t resonate, I reminded him where we met. If he needed more background, I included my Twitter handle. Jay’s response shows that he understands personal professionalism – of course he wanted to connect and stay in touch!

Maybe I could have simply left you with the Lisa and Arik’s wise words, but I wanted to remind you that our new forms of digital connectedness are called “social media” for a reason. A personalized LinkedIn invitation tells the new connection that you value your relationship; ideally, they will value you too. And isn’t that the point?

Social Media Connection Criteria

At the top of my blog, I have links to my Twitter, Facebook (fan page), LinkedIn and Klout – ostensibly so my readers can learn more about me. The truth is that it’s also a semi-veiled exercise in vanity. The more people who choose to connect me with, the more important I am…right?

But a couple of weeks ago, a real-life encounter with a woman I knew through Twitter made me realize that not everyone thinks the same way I do. “Hey – are you @_______?” I asked (I’ll keep her identity anonymous because she’s one of those smart, passionate people who makes her living as a “Social Media Expert”).

“Yes,” she replied, at first struggling to place me. “Oh you must be that guy who keeps Tweeting at me.”

That guy who keeps Tweeting at you? Isn’t that the point of social media…to make virtual connections and convert them into tangible relationships? Why was my extroverted digital identity being greeted by a look and tone that (I can only imagine) are usually saved for stalkers? Isn’t this how we’re supposed to connect in our increasingly digital 21st century world?

After a few chops were busted, the woman and I buried the hatchet and have since started a friendship in the real world (we’re also connected on Facebook, LinkedIn and through reciprocal follows on Twitter).

Another anecdote: in describing the importance of social networking to a colleague who carries an “old school salesman” approach, I told him that LinkedIn is increasingly replacing the “business card culture.” No one likes trading and collecting business cards anymore; people – especially those under 40 – are more likely to connect with a fresh contact on LinkedIn than store a 2 x 3.5 inch piece of paper in something as old-fashioned as a Rolodex.

My colleague was horrified. Not only does he still insist on handing out and collecting business cards, but he explained that he is loath to connect with anyone on LinkedIn with whom he does not have a REAL relationship. Rather than use the social networking tool as a virtual means to collect and manage real life contacts, he filters out his “connections” to include only those people he actually knows…and knows well.

I suppose our two approaches can be broken down to something as simple as the difference between “leads” and “customers,” but since I’m not in sales, the conversation further reinforced that I have a very different idea of what a social network “connection” really means.

For simplicity’s sake, here are my criteria for deciding on who to friend, like, connect with and/or follow:

  • Facebook – have we met in real life? Do we have a social circle with even a modest overlap? If we went to high school together, would I intentionally make eye contact if I saw you on the street today?
  • Twitter – do you have anything interesting to say and/or share?
  • LinkedIn – have we worked together, either for the same employer or on a common project? Have we talked about working together? Did we swap business cards as more than just a courteous formality, but as a means to ensure we could stay in touch?

To me, that’s common sense…but not everyone has to agree. Does anyone else subscribe to specific criteria before determining whom they should friend, follow and/or connect? What are your social media criteria, and how do you get the most out of social networking…without picking up a virtual restraining order?