Social Media Bad Habits to Avoid

Popeye said it clearly, “I’yam what I’yam.” We are who we are. It’s true. Our cores are pretty much developed at an early age, so who we are today really is who we were in preschool. Understanding this should make it easier to recognize social media bad habits that can lead to pitfalls and help you avoid them whenever possible.

The most obvious recreation of junior high school foibles occurs in Facebook. Let’s start there

Facebook

Many people use Facebook pages for business. They create a presence; they post to their pages with updated business information, quotes and engaging photos. The most overlooked issue seems to be their profiles. Your comments, who you friend/unfriend, your public and private posts, your participation in volatile discussions –all this makes up your profile. Hopefully most of us have a gut reaction that causes us to pause when we question whether or not to post something, friend someone, or comment. TIP: If you have even a hint of, “I’ll impart my wisdom because I’m smarter, want to show them, prove them wrong…” don’t post it.  Just scroll down (the FB equivalent of walking away from the scene). Keep moving.

We live in real and virtual communities that all blend together. This is especially true if we have ‘friended’ our clients, colleagues and associates. These are people that don’t know us from our younger days and are most likely grateful to know you as an adult first with life’s experiences collected. Would you want your clients reading your snide comments, tacky posts, unkind mentions, reliving your party days, witnessing your lax grammar and poor-taste recollections, and current party days? Hopefully not. That only works well on reality shows.

On the other hand, what if someone is friends with someone you don’t like? (Good grief, I feel like I’m taking to my 11-year-old daughter here but it does happen with adults.) “How can you be friends with HIM/HER? You know how I feel!” Sometimes we have to move on and realize that one person’s friendship with your mortal enemy is no reflection on you. And if they are really friends, certainly they have more in common than just you. WALK AWAY from delving into business other than your own. Besides, the best way not to make new friends is by looking like an ass to your old friends on Facebook! {If that’s too much, feel free to remove, but I thought it sounded better than saying, “Look at your own mess.”}

Google+

Google+ is evolving into a great resource of ideas, thought exchanges, sources and tips that can help us grow and help each other continue to succeed in business. It is wise to create your circles and then just WATCH for a while. See how it’s done by those you respect, admire and are influenced by. See what kind of feedback they’re getting – what works? What doesn’t? There is no deadline to dive in, but participate by listening, reading, perhaps commenting with something other than, “Ya right!” or “Yes, I agree!” How would you interact if you were at a networking event? Would you really limit your responses to 3 and 4 words? No. You would have what’s called a conversation. Enjoy the conversation and maybe even pose a follow-up question to delve further into the topic.

Google+ is NOT Facebook. Google would like to replace FB, but for now, this is not the place for photos of puppies and kitties, your kids at school, and cool shoes you bought, unless you are captioning it with something to give us all pause to consider and respond to. Remember, these posts are reaching your business circles, influencers and the general public. If you are simply posting to your circle of family and friends, then show us the puppies! If not, go back to Facebook.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is all business all the time. But it’s not a great place unless you engage with members on a regular basis. I sort through enough junk in my news feed and especially from groups that autopilot their social media. “READ MY STUFF!” “BUY MY STUFF!” “SIGN UP FOR MY NEXT THING!” That gets old really fast. I manage a lot of groups for clients and we are constantly applying “BLOCK AND REMOVE” to people who follow this practice.

Take a few minutes to really read what real people are posting, then comment or post something helpful or interesting you have found, or go back to your work.  We all have limited time on all social media venues. Be respectful of that time when you post, especially to business-oriented venues such as LinkedIn.

Twitter

Twitter is 140 characters for a reason. That reason is not so you can challenge us to decipher your license plate renditions of full sentences. Use short, concise thoughts. SHORTEN your links if you are tweeting fresh by using http://bit.ly or other shortening services for long URLs. Most sites will shorten for you if you are sharing a link.

Engage people by including their @twitterhandle as a mention. Use # hashtags to reference a topic. You can see current trending hashtags by checking your Twitter home page for trending, but it’s a good idea to get familiar with hashtags you want to mention regularly. How is the brand or person you’re following posting it? Search for it. As an example #SLMA is the same as #slma, and #slmaradio gives the same results as #slma-radio, but not the same for #slma_radio.

YouTube

Did you know you can create multiple YouTube channels? Think about it if you use YouTube for both personal and business purposes. This is an easy way to divide content. Also, don’t miss the boat by neglecting to make positive or respectfully constructive comments on other videos. No one is obligated to read your opinions, but they may greatly enjoy your genuine reactions and benefit from your constructive suggestions.

Closing

What works out to be a great disadvantage for social media is that it lacks tone. There will never be an LOL or smilie face symbol that can as genuinely express emotion as a real smile or a real laugh, in person or over the phone. Social media is riddled with great valleys of mistaken or ill-planned communications that can often be deleted, but not as easily forgotten.

I’ve found it’s better to assume someone is being kind, helpful or supportive rather than snarky, sarcastic and judgmental unless you have reason to believe otherwise. Whatever happened to giving others the benefit of the doubt? Most professionals don’t have the time or care to bother with making people feel bad about themselves, their work, or their feedback. Once again, keep scrolling.

Keep in mind you don’t have to participate in anything when you are feeling low, had too much to drink, had a long day of being beat up by clients or supervisors. That’s the best time for a social media intervention. Read a book, go outside, take a walk, unplug. Take a break and get a fresh perspective. The social media world can wait for your implied wisdom.

The top question in most social media venues is, “Are you being of service or are you being self-serving?” You may want to take a break from the latter. It’s boring and tiring reading your posts. “Look at me! Look at me!” starts to wear thin by the time we are about nine years old.

I’m guilty of it on Facebook. I share a lot because I miss my family and friends in Southern California tremendously. I want them to know our family as we grow up here in Oregon. If people tire of my sharing on FB, they can simply block me altogether or remove me from their timeline and check in from time to time. Gratefully, I don’t repeat this behavior on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+.

There’s a general 80/20 rule that many suggest is a best practice – 80% of your content should NOT be self-serving and promotional. You should be sharing with and speaking to your clients, friends and fans. Only a measly 20% should be promotional and self-serving. That rule, sprinkled with a nice dose of self-control and discipline could change the landscape of social media as we know it today. It might actually become a more social media.

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