First, let’s set a few things straight. There is no such thing as a social media expert, guru, ninja or any self-adorned title. Those are smarmy terms people use (ineffectively) to say that they might, MIGHT, know more than the average person about social media. The tricky thing about social media is that no one is really an expert. Tomorrow, Facebook could decide to change all of the fundamentals about its site operation and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. That’s why no one is really an expert, these are platforms over which we have no control and they are so fluid and dynamic that it’s impossible to say you’re a ninja. Besides, no one except for real, star-throwing, walking-on-roofs martial arts experts should use that term. Ever. So please stop.
Ok, now that we’ve set the stage, I want to use it to say that I am not an expert, although being a ninja would certainly appeal to the 7-year old boy lurking deep inside. But I do spend a lot of time online and I do spend (too much) time communicating via several different social media platforms. It is from this incredible expense of time and energy then that I speak, and not as a slick guru trying to sell you something. Keeping all of this in mind, I’ve put together a short list of social media mistakes; behavior that I hate seeing on social media and I would guess that many others might agree with me.
1. Obsessive, self-absorbed Retweets on Twitter
It’s awesome when people take the time on Twitter to either mention us or to share our Tweets with their followers. Sharing is caring, as the saying goes. What I do not understand is why people then Retweet those Retweets. Allow me to clarify. Let’s say Jon Snow has his tweet shared by Mr. Whitewalker. Jon then retweets Whitewalker’s retweet of Jon’s original tweet. He’s basically trying to tell the world, look someone found my information useful and I will passive aggressively share this information with you. It makes no sense and is intensely annoying so please stop. Unless Oprah retweets you, then you may boast all you want.
2. Connecting your Fitbit/YouTube download status to Twitter
The ability to connect other parts of our lives to social media sounds great in theory, in practice though it’s an entirely different thing. I think that people who do the best at social media know when they should and shouldn’t use it. In other words, we don’t need to know literally everything you’re doing throughout the day, instead curated highlights are a lot better. There’s so much noise in social media, seeing people’s FourSquare/Swarm check-in to gyms, their running stats, how many pushups they did, whether or not their dog pooped and which videos they’re uploading to YouTube is just too much. It doesn’t mean anything to the rest of the world and instead makes me think that you’re not quite sure what you’re doing in the social media world.
3. Syncing Twitter and Facebook
I’ve said this a million times but it bears repeating: different social media platforms exist for a reason. Twitter became popular because it offered communications that are in a very different format than Facebook. Pinterest is around because no one else was sharing images in that way. Since social media platforms are inherently different from each other, it then makes sense to treat them that way. The way in which you communicate on Twitter should necessarily be different from how you communicate on Facebook, G+, Instagram and so on. By syncing your networks so that every time you post something it goes to all of them at the same time using the same messaging ignores the fact that they’re different. No, instead you should craft messages that are unique in style to the platform and which speak to your DIFFERENT audiences on each platform. Plus it’s just really annoying, so there’s that.
Don’t misunderstand me, I don’t mean posting too often or too regularly – everyone has their style and that’s fine. No, I mean when you cross that invisible line between what should and shouldn’t be shared publicly. Many of us, myself included, forget just how many people see what we post. On Twitter I have more than 56,000 followers; I’ve lived in cities with fewer people. I know I forget just how widely shared my information is and that sometimes leads to comments or even photos that probably shouldn’t have been shared. The worst offenders I see are folks in skimpy clothes. Once in a while, if you’re at a beach or somewhere else that is appropriate then a shirtless or bikini shot is fine. But if I start seeing you shirtless in odd and unlikely places, then I know that all you’re trying to do is to show off those abs and while you may be attractive, that gets annoying over time. It also tells me that you have nothing of value to say or share, so you just take off your clothes. I follow people because they’re interesting; if all I wanted was to see some flesh I’d rent a porn.
5. Food Pics
One of the most popular things to share online is food – we all love taking photos of the great meals, snacks and drinks we consume and I know I for one love to share them. But if you’re going to share a picture of that great steak, you need to make sure it’s actually a good photo. Thanks to the nature of ambient lighting in restaurants, the vast majority of food photos come across looking like brown lumps, no matter what the dish actually is. If you simply must share that steak, then consider providing some additional light using a friend’s phone or tweaking it with an editing app like Camera+. There is nothing better than seeing amazing food photos on Instagram, but there’s also nothing worse than seeing the 4th brown lump of the day.
What are some of your social media pet peeves?