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  • Outdated technology metaphors.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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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: 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