Sunday, May 6, 2012

In Love with Twitter Direct Messages

Every few months, I find myself faced with this love-hate cycle with social. At its core, social media can be (and is) a wonderful thing. It enables communication beyond borders, image and socio-economic context (to a degree). It can also facilitate relationship building between an endless variety of entities, in the personal and business spheres. However, every so often, I experience the abuse of social, either by getting carried away myself, or through others' behaviour. This often means I've caught myself scrolling through my Twitter timeline at 3am, whilst in bed and half asleep, or, I've had enough of trying to conduct conversations with people who live life through their social networks, constantly attached to their Blackberry or iPad screens.

However, this issue lends itself to a lot more than just shortened attention spans and technological infatuation. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube have grown to become obsessions for some. One in every 13 people ON EARTH is constantly logged on to Facebook; over 48% check their accounts even before they get out of bed (source). Fidelity cases and divorces tied to social media are also on the rise, with evidence of communications now legally being used in courts(source). The list goes on with issues that may and have risen from the misuse of social media; the examples are aplenty and last night, I stumbled across an article I wrote a year ago that got me reconsidering all of the above, "The Top Four Annoying Social Media Personalities." I'm currently working on a part deux, but until then, here it is:

"Recently I read an article about social media ‘breaking points’. The author was discussing issues they had had with certain social media habits. They listed issues like excessive swearing and the use of certain derogatory terms as their ‘breaking points’ i.e. the point at which they would unfollow someone on Twitter/Facebook.

Now because I am such an advocate of Twitter, its uses and limitless power in so many realms - including business, personal and social - I hate to have to do this, but the ‘breaking point’ article got me thinking. Behind these social ‘faux pas’ are the people who commit them. Therefore it’s only fair (and fun) to call the social media ‘personalities’ responsible out on their appalling behaviour. I’ve made it my duty as an active civilian within our ever expanding social media planet to make a listing of the top offending personalities. So without further ado:

The Name-Dropper

Example: “Oh yes, I’ve partied with Prince Harry.”

The skinny: If you’ve met a celeb, an influential business personality or even a member of the royal family, you’re gonna want to tell people about it. It’s only natural and it’s also pretty cool for you to be able to share your experiences. I myself have boasted about meeting Pierre-Henri Raphanel (set the world’s speed record in a Bugatti Veyron SuperSport at 401km/hour). I mean, this is what social media is for, no?
Well, yes, but no. There is a certain etiquette to the manner in which you should be expressing these celebrated meetings, i.e. don’t name-drop 20 times an hour. Excessive mentions will be seen as bragging and really, no-one likes a showoff. And we especially don’t care that you know someone, who knows someone, who is an extra in The Only Way is Essex.

The verdict: Tolerable when relevant, but unfollow worthy when OTT.

The Social Celeb

Example: Steven Holmes, aka, Kanye West bait.

The skinny: It’s probably a little unfair of me to pinpoint Holmes as an example of this hugely irritating category seeing as it was never his intention to become the social media ‘celeb’ that he did. However, when Mr West follows you, you better be ready to wave obscurity out the door.
The issue here however is not the fame in itself, but how often, this tends to change the level and quality of interaction with the individual. Persnickety responses to follower engagement ensues, and more often than not, we have a social media Kim Kardashian on our hands, i.e. someone famous for nothing. Cue the social media ‘pack mentality’, i.e. “OMG Kanye’s following him! I NEED to follow him too!”

The verdict: Highly irritating and a waste of valuable social media space when pompous and sadly, vacuous.

The Social Media ‘Royalty’

Example: Alexia Tsotsis, i.e. @alexia, journo for TechCrunch

The skinny: I love Alexia. She’s one of the funnier members of the Social Media Royal Family. However, Alexia shares her Princess of Social title with dozens of paupers. These paupers are often camouflaged as royalty via hundreds of thousands of followers.. and an original content to regurgitated rubbish ratio of 1:500.
Again, the issue isn’t in the numbers, but the quality of engagement and content offerings. If you’re not at least partially generating discussion within your audience, then why are you online? Granted it isn’t humanly possible to keep up with 300 thousand different conversations (unless like some, you had a team Tweeting for you), but when engagement is limited to humorous witticisms with your colleagues or social media personalities of your own ‘calibre’ then what is the point?

The verdict: If you are part of the social scape, your success is determined via the feeling of attainability and usefulness. If you do not engage, there is no point. Unfollowed.

The Social Media Link Lover

Example: “Check this out:, and this and this” etc.

The skinny: It is wonderful to share valuable content you’ve found online with your followers. I do this often, tweeting up to 6 or 7 links a day, with a brief description, or captivating commentary to garner attention. The problem with this social media personality is often, there are no opinions and no engagement re the links.
It’s one thing to share, but if I don’t know what you think of what you’ve tweeted then you’re as good as spam to me. What’s even worse are those links to sites with pay walls. See, why would you do that? If you’ve excited me enough to click on your link, now you’ve gone and ticked me right off because I’m curious and unsatisfied. And let’s be honest, most of us will not pay to see a single (or a dozen) articles that can probably be sourced from elsewhere for free.

The verdict: Everything in moderation. Too much of anything is annoying and not enough of something is also pointless. Link moderately, discuss generously.

However, these are only MY top four picks. There is a host of other like social media personalities whom also succeed in ruffling my netizen feathers. These include ‘The Sarcastic Social Sorcerers’, ‘The Oh La La Lieutenants of Social’ and ‘The Social Media Reality Revelers’; not to mention ‘The Footy Socialite’, ‘The Social Smut Smurfs’ and many more.

Have I missed any out? Which of these social media ‘breaking point’ personalities do you recognise? Which irritates you the most?"

Article originally written for Acuras and can be found here.

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