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).

Social Media Tools

Social media word cloud. Credit: Jason Rhode

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.

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.

Anti-Social Etiquette

Photo credit: Mark Smiciklas

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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Comments (5)

Kristi FergusonMay 25th, 2012 at 4:35 pm

Amen! I’m so tired of all the one-sided asking, RT requests and the such that I have started to ignore a lot of what goes on on my social media networks. Sometimes I feel like tweeting ‘is there anything else I can do for you?!?’ I find myself becoming terribly sarcastic, or as I say just disinterested. Blah. I love this post- well said.
Kristi Ferguson recently posted..Fraser Valley Hot Yoga

HarrietMay 25th, 2012 at 4:51 pm

I think it’s all fair comment. I really hate being asked to RT/promote something. If it’s worth RT-ing/promoting, consider it done. Even though I work in PR and I don’t think there are RULES per se, social media (for me) is about social connection (chatting with others), community, observing life, and spreading the word on issues, people, events that I think are worthwhile or amusing.
Harriet recently posted..More adventures in boyland

RaulMay 25th, 2012 at 5:15 pm

Thanks Harriet and Kristi – I am glad the post has resonated. The reality is, I had been waiting to get this off my chest. And lately, my ability to get things off my chest is really increasing!!! Also thanks for resharing

AnabelleMay 25th, 2012 at 6:06 pm

You tell ‘em!

In all seriousness, social media is still kind of the wild west. There comes a time when there needs to be a sheriff!

That’s it–I’m getting you a gold sheriff star for your birthday. :)
Anabelle recently posted..Choices

RaulMay 25th, 2012 at 9:57 pm

Thanks Anabelle – JT smiled when I told him you were getting me a gold sheriff star :)

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