Sometimes it’s actually quite useful to have a good old fashioned rant. Get it out, move on - it might just make you feel better about your lot. This new post is a rant at some of the less than perfect social media behaviours we’re seeing right now.
By Dave Musson
I love social media, I really do. But sometimes things happen or behaviours start to occur that really wind me up, so I thought I’d gather them into a list and blog about them. To quote a mildly popular meme, if you could all stop doing these things, that’d be great.
Using LinkedIn’s blogging platform to post press releases
I really, really like Pulse – LinkedIn’s blogging platform; it looks smart, your get a good amount of eyes on your posts, commenting and replying is easy and you have to be specific with your keywords as you’re only allowed three of them. More and more of the best things I read each week are on Pulse and I think it’s a wonderful way to show off what your writing skills and display some thought leadership on your LinkedIn profile (which, let’s face it will soon be your go-to CV).
However, I find myself getting increasingly annoyed at the amount of press releases being plonked on LinkedIn’s Pulse with very little thought other than trying to get a few more views. A press release and a blog are very different beasts – if I’m bothered enough about your press release I will go on your website and read it, but don’t try and pass it off as something as original and engaging as a blog. This trend is especially obvious when multiple employees of the same organisation publish the exact same thing, at almost the same time, on LinkedIn.
How about we stick to posting press releases where they’re supposed to go and keep Pulse as a really great space for learning and conversing? I really don’t want to have to unfollow people, but if your idea of a blog is actually a press release then I’m out.
Replying all on Twitter
Very occasionally, replying to everyone tagged in a tweet is a good thing – because what you have to say is aimed at all of those accounts. However, most of the time you don’t need to include everyone. I know Twitter encourages this annoying behaviour by auto including everyone when you press reply, but you are not a sheep. If your reply is only aimed at one person then only include that person. It’s totally ok. In fact, I’d prefer it. Thanks!
Brands/organisations joining Instagram just because it’s booming
I guess this could apply to any hot social network but I feel particularly strongly about Instagram because it’s my favourite one. Instagram is a really special, community-focused space centred on creativity and, in my experience, making friends. Just because lots of people use the channel, it doesn’t mean your brand has to be there – especially if you’ve got nothing to offer. If you’re thinking about Instagram for your brand, establish exactly why you want to use it (bearing in mind that ‘awareness’ and ‘because it has 400 million users per month’ are not valid arguments) and what you give to that community long before you create an account.
If you’re going to show us behind the scenes in your world, or organise Instameets, or work with influencers to tell some cool stories then, hey, welcome aboard! If you’re just coming on to share crappy ‘motivational’ quotes posted for no other than reason than to gather likes or if you’re joining Instagram to try and drive traffic to your website (heads up, links don’t work in Instagram captions) then you can jog on…or just pay to advertise. Either be humble, understand the community and earn the trust of your followers or don’t bother. Just because lots of ‘experts’ are telling you that you need to be on Instagram in 2016, doesn’t mean they’re right. Instagram is a really, really cool place – don’t ruin it for all of us who hold it so dear.
We all know that writing once and posting everywhere is not cool, but people still do it. Why? Doing that either shows that you are too lazy to do things properly or that you don’t know how to use the different channels that you’re posting to – whichever of those it is, I won’t be following you. One of the biggest pieces of advice I give people when it comes to social media is to take the time to try out different platforms, get to know their subtleties and understand how the community works. It will make you much better at using those spaces and you’ll gain more trust from your followers. However, you won’t get any of those badass skills if you automate everything.
Secondly, I’ve noticed more people using automated tweeting programmes, that auto @ reply new followers and auto retweet tweets from specified accounts, regardless of how relevant the content of those tweets is. All I can say to that…nope!
‘Dave’s written a blog about things he hates on social media – you’re not going to believe what he’s included!’ ‘Dave’s latest post on Instagram – his boss isn’t going to be happy with this!’
Bleurgh – clickbait. It’s horrible, isn’t it? But it’s all over the web, including over a whole host of social media. Needless to say, you shouldn’t be doing it – you wouldn’t talk like that in real life so don’t do it on social media.
While we’re on the subject of clickbait, it’s not just the hyperbolic stuff I hate. What I also hate, possibly even more, is the kind of pathetic clickbait that is essentially just leaving out key information in a bid to make you click a link. For example, I remember last Autumn that my team Aston Villa tweeted something along the lines of ‘Kick off time for our Capital One Cup tie with Birmingham confirmed’ followed by a link. To an error 404 page.
Now, I might be missing something here but why not just tweet ‘Our Capital One Cup tie with Birmingham will kick off at 7.45pm’ instead, maybe with a link to the ticket office? Surely that’s far more useful and just, well, nicer? I tweeted the club to ask them for the kick off time (as their link was broken) and they never replied. That’s poor. It just smacks of communications people being measured on how many people will click their link, as opposed to how well they can, well, communicate.
Block posting on Instagram
Back to Instagram for a moment – please, please space your photos out. There are few things more annoying on Instagram than 3,4,5 or more photos from the same user in a row. Instagram isn’t an algorithm-generated newsfeed, you see everything posted from the people you follow, in chronological order. I want to see some variety in my feed, instead over having to scroll forever past photos from the same person. Just post something once a day, let other people have some space and let your own photos breathe too.
The mentality of Twitter
When Stephen Fry left Twitter recently, his parting comment was particularly interesting – in case you missed it, here’s a juicy quote:
"A stalking ground for the sanctimoniously self-righteous who love to second-guess, to leap to conclusions and be offended - worse, to be offended on behalf of others they do not even know.
"It's as nasty and unwholesome a characteristic as can be imagined. It doesn't matter whether they think they're defending women, men, transgender people, Muslims, humanists … the ghastliness is absolutely the same."
It taps into what a lot of people have been saying about Twitter of late – that it is increasingly becoming a breeding ground for trolls and the type of person who takes offence for everything. Twitter is difficult enough for newcomers to get to know and love without it being populated by idiots. It’s cowardly, pathetic and really annoying.
Only using social media for self promotion
Yes, this is a somewhat ironic point to round off a list about things that get my, and only my, goat but I’m sure you all realise the point I’m making. We’ve all seen these types on social media and we’ve probably chosen not to follow them. Good work – ignore the self promoters and instead use these wonderful platforms to connect with great people, have great conversation and learn great stuff!
Social media gurus
I’ve saved the best/worst until last…the dreaded social media guru. I struggle to find the words to express exactly how these types make me feel – you know that gif of Steve Carrell from the American version of The Office where he shouts ‘no, no, no, no, no!’ and looks in great pain? That’s how I feel when I see a social media guru. Being able to make a lot of noise about something does not make you a genius. More than often than not, it just makes you a noisy idiot. And besides, for me social media is ultimately about having conversations and I’m pretty sure you can’t be a conversation guru. How about we all agree to pack the gurus off to their own social network – MySpace or Peach, they can have either of those – and we can back to sharing good stuff and learning good things from those normal, brilliant people who remain? Deal? Cool.
Ok, phew, that’s helped – I feel much better! What things do you think need to stop when it comes to social media? Let me know!
Dave Musson is the Senior Online Communications Officer (Social Media) at the University of Warwick and a local government alumnus. He is @davemusson on both Twitter and Instagram.
image via Library of Congress