Why I am NOT doing what you ask me to
I have been meaning to write this blog post for a while, but for one very important reason (my academic research is my priority) I hadn’t been able to. But the more requests I’ve had in the past few months (something which is kind of bizarre because I have taken in the last 12 months more than 2 hiatuses) the more I realize people in social media need someone to teach them manners. And this need for manners is for experimented social media folks and for newbies alike. It’s kind of ironic that I write this post, because some of my own friends have complained that it’s kind of annoying when somebody blogs about blogging or tweets about tweeting. But since I don’t really care to be criticized, even by my own friends, and my blog is mine for my opinion to be posted, here goes what I think (or here goes nothing, as you were).
You’ll see, the way I see it, rules in social media are for the most part, crowdsourced. I scold, you scold, we all scold. People on Twitter see me scolding PR folks and people in general for having poor manners. I can’t help it, I was raised in a household where good manners were important. Apparently, in social media, it’s bad form to correct someone and teach them some manners. I have no problem doing that, though. Let me backtrack for a bit. In 2009 I organized a panel at the Vancouver Bloggers Meetup on etiquette in social media, and people thought I was crazy. How could I ask folks to follow certain rules or etiquette in social media? That was heresy. But ironically, now I think people realize how important it is to actually have good manners and etiquette.
I am about to give one of Canada’s biggest PR firms a piece of my mind and a lesson in blogger relations.
— Raul Pacheco (@hummingbird604) May 22, 2012
Ironically, in the past four years, the number of social media consultants has grown exponentially. As my friend Lorraine aptly put it, there is about 4 social media consultants per potential client. But the reality is, some of the practices that some of these social media consultants share are actually pretty bad ones and reflect poorly on their clients and by extension, on them.
I have done a lot of social media training, ironically, not because I’m a social media specialist but because I am a social media power user. I use social media to advance my research, to promote non-profits, to build online communities in the academic and educational realms. So, for me, building standards and best practices is actually quite relevant and I take pride in the work I do, in the training I do, and in teaching people to have good social media manners. I also showcase some best practices.
So when people ask me what is right and what is wrong in social media, I really don’t like pin-pointing specific practices too much because I know that there is a broad spectrum of what people consider right and wrong. So when I was thinking about writing this post I figured I could share the reasons why I don’t blog or share something on social media. By sharing how I react to negative stimuli, I am hoping people can learn how to better relate to me online, and by extension, to their peers. So here are some reasons why I am not doing what you ask me for on social media.
1. You are a complete stranger
I get lots of requests via Twitter “hi @hummingbird604 can you RT my post”? (RT means retweet, or share the post with my Twitter followers). It looks simple and easy enough, no? I hit the RT button and BOOM, your post is shared. The only problem with that is that you are a complete stranger. You don’t follow me on Twitter, you have never engaged with me. You don’t retweet my own stuff, and all your stream is all about self-promotion. You know what happens the first time you ask me for a retweet as a complete stranger? I ignore. The sixth, I block you and report you to Twitter. Simple as that.
2. You are an egotistic self-promoter
These are my favorite requests. The first time a self-promoter asks me to share their stuff in my social platforms, I politely ignore it. The third, I promise I will share it and then completely forget about it. By the sixth, I give them an earful. Social media, and web 2.0 are all about reciprocity. You’re supposed to be bidirectional. If it’s all about you, then you can’t ask me NOT to be all about me.
3. I have already helped you once and you have taken me as your free ride for promotion.
These are tough ones. I make it my objective and my policy (and my interns can tell you this is true) to help people at least once. But then I publish something about a worthy cause and the next communication is to ask me AGAIN to help. Without any actual reciprocation. No, a thank you is not enough. If I contribute to the community, and if I do something for you for “free”, the least I expect is that YOU promote others’ stuff the same way you want your own stuff to be reshared and promoted. But if you are always JUST promoting your own stuff, and I already gave you exposure once, and you keep bombarding me with requests, it’s clear that you did not appreciate the effort I made for you and thus I have every right to ignore you. Which I often do.
4. You violate my rules.
While I haven’t published a Policy page, I do have a very clear Pitch Me page, which includes comments about how I like pitches that value my time, that are important and relevant to the community, that include incentives for me and for my readers (and more importantly, for my readers rather than for me). You send me un-adressed, non-solicited press releases. I ignore them for a few times and send them to my spam folders. After a few times, I simply feel that you need a refresher in blogger relations and I send you a terse email. You asked for it.
5. Your practices are shady or unethical.
I don’t need to follow everyone on Twitter to realize when their blogging/tweeting/Facebooking/Pinteresting practices are shady. I am pretty smart, and keep my eye on the online pulse of Vancouver. So, if I see you violating the terms of reference on Facebook, if I see you asking for freebies online, if I see you being a DB, in general, I make a point to NEVER help you. No matter how much you ask me for a favor, if your practices are shady or unethical, I will NOT help you.
These are some of my viewpoints. These are, in writing, some of the reasons why I scold people. Why I send those reminder tweets about how people should mind their manners. Because, as I said on my personal Facebook:
I know I’m one of the most secretly hated bloggers in Vancouver precisely because I tell off my fellow bloggers when they engage in shady social media practices. But I do it because, in my family, in Spanish we have a saying (well, in fact only my Dad was the one who taught me that): “del majadero y del patan, cualquiera es su padre” (exact translation: anybody can be the father of the asshole and douchebag). What he meant by that is: if somebody is an asshole, your (mine and my four brothers’) duty is to set them straight, to correct them when they’re doing wrong, to right the wrongs. Some people may think it’s wrong to self-appoint as the social media police, but in reality, if nobody sets the rules and/or everybody violates the rules, somebody needs to put things into place and set a ruling order. I have no problem being that person, however much hate I get directed towards me.
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