By: Hillel Fuld (@hilzfuld)
Gosh, I hate posts like this. Not only is it somewhat of a rant, and if you follow me online, you must have realized that I am highly allergic to negativity, but it is also about annoying things people do on the social web. So much has been said about it and again, nothing I dislike more than repeating what has already been said… Having said all that, this is, sadly, an important post for too many people.
Call me neurotic, accuse me of trying to dictate rules when there are none, I can handle it. What I cannot handle is people, smart respectable people, behaving online in a way they would never dare to behave in real life. Like I have said many times before, there are no rules to the social web, everyone uses it the way they see fit. Except one. There is one rule. Don’t be that guy. What guy? The guy who is aggressive, in your face, and obnoxious.
So how do those adjectives manifest themselves on Twitter and other social platforms? Here are ten examples that if upon reading even one of them, you say to yourself “Oh yea, I do that.”, you need to stop it.
- Selling is the New Spamming: Listen, I don’t know how to say this nicely. When you do things like this, people notice it. If you are too lazy to click that link and read that post, I will elaborate here. If your Twitter timeline (or any other platform, for that matter) looks something like “Hey <insert influencer’s name here>, would love your thoughts on my new <insert product here> . See it here <Insert shortened link here> one hundred times over, you are doing it very very VERY wrong. Not only will no one click on a sales pitchy tweet like that, and not only will the recipient of that spam, sorry tweet, see that you are sending the very same tweet with the same exact language to all of his/her colleagues, but everyone else who follows you both or who clicks on your profile will see it too. Won’t be long before, best case scenario, people label you a spammer and worst case scenario? Twitter suspends your account. Yes, really. That is spam, don’t do it. Ever!
- Know Thy Platform: This is of course a tricky and highly debated point but let’s just get right to it. Twitter is for 140 characters. Instagram is for pictures. Facebook is for both and Google+ is for longer form and visual content. A blog? Even longer. Yes, you can mix those up and use Twitter as a blog by tweeting 30 tweets in a row all numbered until you get your long point across. And if you are active on Twitter, you may have noticed some of big dogs of the tech world doing this. I am going to go out on a limb here and say don’t do that. It is annoying as heck and unless you are Marc Andreeson who clearly has insanely insightful tweets to share with his followers and who many players in the industry depend on for those insights, you are going to annoy people if you do this. A lot!
- A Whole New Level of Fishing: C’mon, we all know that guy. You know, that guy or gal who constantly fishes for compliments in a way he/she thinks is subtle but is so far from it. Yea, there is a new kind of fishing and it far more annoying than the old kind. Asking for validation on the social web is sad. Asking for a retweet, begging someone to like your page, and even pitching someone to give you a shoutout. Don’t. Even if you achieve your short-term goal of that person mentioning you or endorsing you, the fact that you asked will by default make it less authentic and best case scenario, you get a slight peak in traffic. It won’t do much and the cons of asking for it outweigh the pros of receiving it.
- Maybe you and Hashtags Need to Take a Break: Why do you love hashtags so much? What value, real value has it brought you? Not that much, right? So why do you insist on adding 5 hashtags to every tweet and 30 hashtags to every Instagram picture? “Because that’s how things go viral” is what you were told, correct? Yea, ok, it may or may not be time to grow up. Even if you develop a proprietary algorithm that enables you to add 400,000 hashtags in a 140 character tweet, if your content stinks, it aint going anywhere. On the contrary, if you write great content and use zero hashtags, well, great content goes a long way. So why all the buzz about hashtags? Use them right. Read about how and why to use hashtags effectively.
- The Enter Button is not your Friend: Well, this is somewhat of a personal pet peeve, but then, this is my blog so where else would you expect to find my opinion? You are DMing me? We are corresponding via Facebook Messenger? I get it. We are all somewhat A.D.D but please, complete the thought, write it out, then hit Enter. Remember, most people are on their mobile phones throughout the day and many of us use push notifications. Do you have any idea how agitating it can be to get a notification for How… Are… You…. Feeling… Today? Very! Stop hitting enter in the middle of your message. Less is more. One DM. One message, not 50. My cardiologist thanks you.
- Automation is the Devil in Disguise. The Disguise of Efficiency: If one more person asks me “How do I write one message and send it on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, and as many other places as possible?”, I might just lose it. Seriously, there are different platforms for a reason. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses, each has its own unique audience, tone, language, and message. Do NOT cross post all your content. If for no other reason, I, as your follower, may follow you on more than one platform. Do I really need to see the exact same thing twice? Hint: NO! More on why not to automate your social presence!
- Twitter is not your Shrink. I Know, You’re Now Traumatized! Again, this is me talking, not a rule book, but just like in the real world, no one likes the party pooper. You know, the dude who is ALWAYS negative, pessimistic, and expects the worst! Don’t be that guy on social. If you have a complaint/rant, by all means, voice it. I even know a blogger who is doing that at this very moment on his blog. But do not use social for constant bickering, continuous complaining, and non-stop negativity. I mean, you can use it for that, just don’t expect much response. I mean, would you follow a person that is always spreading negativity? I wouldn’t. In fact, on my very very short list of things that make me actively unfriend/unfollow someone is this. Try to spread positive energy. Who knows? You might end up buying it yourself and <gasp>, becoming a happier person!
- You Talkin to Me? Well, you Should Be! Here is one fundamental rule to follow on social and everything else will fall into place. Remember who you are talking to with every post, every tweet. You are not talking to people who might follow you because they came across your hashtag or because someone retweeted you. You are talking to the people who, for whatever reason, already clicked that Follow button. That is your audience. Focus on them. Stop thinking about how to get more of those people and cater to the ones that already gave your their ear. If you are constantly tweeting in a way you think will get you more followers, you are neglecting your existing audience and thereby setting yourself up for failure. If, however, you share great content, not only your unique content, but you help distribute others’ content, your audience will be more engaged your content will have farther reach, and yes, you will get more followers. Talk to your audience, they came to listen to you.
- Stop Focusing on the Media and Embrace the Social. No Brainer, Right? Wrong! There are some phrases that we all love to use, but in reality, make very little sense. The phrase “social media” is one example (“Content marketing is another one. Without content, there is no marketing. Redundant!) Think about it, no really, forget the buzz words and think about it. What does the word “social” mean? A two way correspondence. A dialogue. What does “Media” traditionally mean? Broadcast. One way. So in reality, this phrase is kinda problematic. In reality though, there are those on these platforms that use it like it’s social, and then there are others that unfortunately think of it is as media, in the traditional sense of the word. It is not a sales platform. Not a megaphone. Don’t use it like that. In fact, if you really want to get the most out of platforms like Twitter, try not talking at all, but only listening. Yes, really. Listen, favorite, search, and analyze. Twitter as a listening platform is exponentially more powerful than it is as a broadcast platform.
- For the Love of God, Fill up the Room before you Start Yelling that No One Hears You! People have short memories. By now everyone realizes how powerful Twitter is. We have all heard of the revolutions it sparked, the stories it broke, and the people it saved. What we might not remember is how many skeptics there were back in the beginning. “Twitter? I don’t get it!” “Why do I need yet another place to share a status?” “People follow me? That is spooky!” “None of my friends are there. It is pointless!” “Why would I share when or what I eat? So dumb!” Yes, these things were all said about Twitter and they are all being said today about Google+. I refuse to get into the debate and explain to you why you are missing out on a tremendous opportunity with Google+ both in terms of traffic, engagement, and key relationships, so I won’t. I will however point out that it doesn’t matter what platform you are talking about, it is social, so if you don’t spend time being social, as in you know, talking to people and giving people a reason to talk to you, then they won’t. I know, I just blew your mind. No, but really, Google+ is no more a ghost town than Twitter was when you first joined or yes, even Facebook. All of these platforms are no more a ghost town than an empty room before it starts filling up. If, however, you are there, investing time, building that community organically and gradually, it really doesn’t matter which platform you use, give people a reason to connect and they will!
I know it was a long one. Most of these are things I see daily on social. And I didn’t even mention group tagging people on Facebook, so consider that number eleven.