• I am not a social media expert, guru, or whatever those people are calling themselves this week. I’m just a person who loves social media. I’ve learned how to use it mostly by watching others and attending my fair share of social media seminars for individuals and business owners. I’m lucky that many of my friends are well-regarded for their work in social media marketing and I know shut up and listen when they’re talking about what works.

    #SaveTheKittens; Photo by dougwoods from Flickr
    #SaveTheKittens; Photo by dougwoods from Flickr

    It’s frustrating to see companies and organizations suck at using social media. They clutter the feed with garbage which damages their reputations. I had it crammed down my throat that social media is a communications tool to facilitate interactions with others; it’s not a digital billboard. There are times I want to tweet at people, “Every time you suck at Twitter, a kitten dies,” but I know it’s a waste of time because they don’t pay attention to what anyone else says about or to them.

    Here are some of the most common and annoying offenses people are committing with their social media accounts and putting kittens in fear all over the world that they might not survive your next post:

    1. Having social accounts and never posting anything or abandoning your accounts for long periods without explanation.
    2. Having social media accounts but never responding when anyone tries to interact with you, especially customers.
    3. Talking only about yourself. This is especially true if you exclusively post “sales-y stuff.”
    4.  Thanking every person who likes or follows you. (This looks like bragging or that you have nothing useful to say.)
    5.  Bombing the feed by posting several times in a row.
    6.  Deleting posts to correct or clarify statements. (It’s better to post an update instead.)
    7.  Starting a blog and stop adding posts after two weeks (sometimes less). Blogging takes a commitment.
    8.  Connecting your Facebook and Twitter accounts so your tweets make no sense because they cut off after the 140th character.
    9.  Asking for retweets (aka digital panty throwing) or indulging digital panty throwers.
    10.  Tweeting that you posted something new on your Facebook page or another social media account. (If your fans cared what you put on your other profiles, they would connect with you there.)
    11.  Posting dead links or bad links.
    12.  Getting defensive with critics.
    Don't let this kitten die because you suck at social media; Photo by kennymatic from Flickr
    Don’t let this kitten die because you suck at social media; Photo by kennymatic from Flickr

    Facebook has a “like” button, but I think they need to add buttons for “dislike” and “dead kitten.” Most of us cringe, grumble, and unfollow when someone sucks at social media. Perhaps adding these buttons would help companies understand when they suck and inspire them to seek out professional assistance.

    One of the best social media tips I’ve received is “be useful.” Think about your audience’s needs and look for ways to interact with them. If you see yourself in the list, here are some book recommendations for being better at social media:

    For those of you who are visual learners, check out Oatmeal’s take on this topic.

    Hat tip to everyone to contributed tips and suggestions for this post.

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  • Enough with the Digital Panty Throwing

    Keep your digital panties on people!

    I love Twitter. It’s my favorite social media platform. I love that it provides an easy way to start a conversation with someone you wouldn’t otherwise have a chance to talk to other than sending an awkward email. One lesson that’s been drilled into my head by my social media expert friends is that social media is a communications tool. It’s not a digital billboard.

    From Improv AZ's 2010 No Pants Light Rail Ride by Devon Christopher Adams
    From Improv AZ’s 2010 No Pants Light Rail Ride by Devon Christopher Adams

    One thing that annoys me on Twitter is what I call “digital panty throwing.” This is when a person (male or female) asks a celebrity for a retweet because they think the celebrity is hot, or it’s their birthday, or they want the celebrity to help them bring attention to a cause. There’s no real communication going on there. The person is using the celebrity to get attention and too many celebrities are indulging these people. Stop it!

    I became aware of his problem during the 2012 Olympic Games. I love gymnastics so I followed the U.S. men’s team. I figured they could share insights and experiences from inside the games without the obnoxiousness teenage girliness that would be all over the women’s profiles, because well, they’re teenage girls. Unfortunately, the men flooded their feeds with retweets of girls telling them how cute they are. I understand they wanted to keep their fans happy and they appreciated the attention, but it added nothing to the online conversation and it was more insufferable than anything else.

    I had the pleasure of talking with Gary Vaynerchuk this year. He said retweets like this are simply bragging and quite unattractive. I think the only time it’s ok to retweet what other people say about you is when you’re enhancing the conversation or sharing something that you suspect a significant portion of your followers will want to read. Otherwise, enjoy the attention by yourself. If someone wants to know what other people are saying to and about you, they’ll look it up themselves.

    The novelty of Twitter has worn off. It’s just a tool to talk with people – not at them. If there’s a celebrity you want to talk to, engage them in a meaningful way. No one cares if you think they’re hot (we already know that) or you want them to wish your brother a happy birthday.

    If you’re someone who has a strong following, please don’t encourage digital panty throwing by conceding to these requests for retweets. I know you’re awesome. Retweeting stupid requests from fans makes you look less awesome.

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