The Point of Social Media

What’s on the iPod: Chloe by Grouplove

freelance, writing, client
Photo: The Next Web

Quick note — you’ll notice the word verification is back for comments. Had to do it. I was inundated with spam comments in the past two weeks (over 5,000 of them), and I’m thinking it’s time to get the spammers off my scent for a while. Hopefully it won’t be necessary forever.

How was the weekend? I’ve not mentioned it, but I was two weeks without a husband. He went off to Arizona to see his mom, which I couldn’t do because I need to get more work in. He came home Saturday night, so the weekend was about getting reacquainted. Finally, I slept. I don’t sleep when he’s not here.

I spent Friday doing a bit of marketing for the upcoming conference. I hit Twitter and LinkedIn and reconnected with some colleagues in hopes of being top-of-mind when they go looking for a writer. I sent out a bunch of LOIs, too. One may have scored something — too early to tell.

I had a chance to read a few articles and blog posts regarding social media use. There were a few that were disturbing. It seems for as many people as there are taking part in the #FollowFriday tagging of good follows and friends, there are a growing number of people who loathe the practice. I saw one tweet that complained about these lists of follows clogging up the Twitter feeds.


I see the point. When someone (me) sends out four or so tweets in a row wishing “Happy #FF” to friends and colleagues, it can become a pain to sift through, I suppose. That’s why on Fridays, I don’t read Twitter feeds much. Actually, it’s because I’m busy saying hello to everyone, but that’s another issue.

But to say someone shouldn’t alert others to people we enjoy communicating with just because the feeds get clogged one day out of seven seems to miss the larger point. It’s social media. Even if you hate it, the #FF senders are doing exactly what the media intended — being sociable.

I actually saw one blog telling you the proper way to do it. The ironic part — the blogger was basically putting a fresh skin on the same practice. The message was (and I paraphrase) “Tell us why we should follow this person and stop saying hello to people you’re trying to schmooze.”

While I think that these messages are lost in reality (meaning the bloggers/writers are just as guilty as those who were being chastised), I get that too much of a good thing can become someone’s pet peeve really quickly. So maybe the point of social media is what’s missing. Here’s my take on what it may mean. Feel free to add your own opinion:

To be sociable. Not everyone is using Twitter or Facebook to build a client base or sell products. In fact, my Facebook page is strictly for personal use — just for connecting with friends. You have to allow that people get to know each other and want to show appreciation in a public forum. So be it. If you don’t enjoy it, maybe don’t read that day? I don’t know.

To build a network. One article writer complained that Twitter’s #FF was being used to sidle up to people you want to be in your network. And that’s a problem because…. yeah, I don’t get why that’s a problem. That’s the point of social media — to connect to people you’ve been trying to build a relationship with, right?

To create awareness. Now that I’m aware of the people who openly hate #FF shout-outs, I’m going to temper my own behavior. If some users hate it, there’s a pretty good chance those I’m trying to build relationships with do, too. However, awareness is also related to brand. I want potential clients to see me using these tools (wisely, of course), and I want to draw these people into conversation even if it means giving them a “Happy #FF” message once in a while. I’ll just stop adding seven or eight people to the list.

There are plenty of bad habits coming out of Twitter and LinkedIn — constant self-promotion being primary, but also not interacting or responding to followers, hijacking groups in order to sell yourself or your products,   sending out strings of identical messages in an attempt to drive traffic to your site, you name it. To me, the least likely to bother me is the #FollowFriday lists of people to follow. I’d much rather see someone saying hello even in a list like that than sending me one more shortened URL pointing to that same damned sales page again.

But I get it. Too much of anything isn’t good. So maybe there’s something to tempering the #FollowFriday behavior, but at what point do we tie our own hands with social media? If it’s not there to get to know other people and reach out, why bother?

What’s your take on it?

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  • Steve Maurer January 14, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    Great post, Lori.

    You're right, many people aren't using social media to it best effect. Especially people trying to market their businesses.

    I really agree with what you had to say about self-promotion. One of the best ways to us social media is to interact and assist.

    A business will often get better results when they share information, answer questions and reach out personally to their audience.

    Using a site like Twitter strictly for ad campaigns is a big mistake.

    Thanks for sharing!
    Steve Maurer

  • Lori January 14, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    Glad to have your comment, Steve!

    Too many Tweeters over-promoting, don't you think? I don't know how they build networks when all they're doing is going on about themselves so much. I'd think it would be much more effective to show an interest in someone else. 🙂

  • Devon Ellington January 14, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    I've found some interesting people to follow by the #FF shout outs in my feed. If I don't want to read something, I SKIP IT! Imagine that! I actually CHOOSE what I read. Oh, horrors, personal responsibility!

    If someone self-promotes too much, I unfollow. That simple. I just did that to someone who had over a dozen tweets a day just on my feed (and I'm not on that often) ONLY self-promoting (the same tweet each time, no less) and never interacting. Buh-bye.

    I didn't berate the individual or bitch and moan. I just "unfollowed."

    This idea that if someone doesn't like something, every else in the social media circuit has to do it THAT WAY is silly. Social media is about new ideas and interpretations. If you don't like what someone's doing, unfollow/unfriend them.

    Very simple.

    Don't expect them to change their strategy to suit you, especially if they're not on your payroll! 😉

  • Paula January 14, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    Scrolling is a Twitter user's best friend where #WW and #FF are concerned.

    I always try to reciprocate the #WWs and #FFs I get, and often send them to writers I've had interesting exchanges with that week. That seems easier than trying to include everyone. I think select messages tend to stand out a bit more.

    I noticed you did something interesting with your #FFs the other day, Lori. Instead of sending them in a block, you personalized each one. Now THAT'S the way to create a positive impact and build stronger connections!

  • Cathy Miller January 14, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    My other comment went into the comment disappearing act. Good thing I don't take those things personally. 😉

    I am guilty as charged for sending multiple #FF. Being who I am, I put my own twist on it as I hate following the crowd. I personalize the message every week to tie into some event or season, like holiday or winter greetings.

    Those on my list are online buddies or bloggers whose posts I admire. I use #FF as a way to stay in touch in our chaotic world. I have received several notes back from various people that they like receiving the customized messages.

    That being said, I do see how I might cut down on those who don't want to play. I'm cool with that. I'm with Devon and Paula. #FF is like any other tweet – if I'm interested, I'll read it & maybe share it. If I'm not, I'll scroll on.

  • Lori January 14, 2013 at 6:55 pm

    Devon, that was my initial reaction, too. I don't mind the strings of #FF names because I try to locate new people to communicate with. No better way than through trusted sources. And honestly, it's the day for it. If it was happening every day of the week, that would get old quickly.

    Paula, I did send blocks, so I'm guilty there (but I enjoy that guilt). When I thought of it, I said hello to one person who was on my mind that week. If I had to do that for everyone I knew, there would be even more #FF tweets!

    Cathy, I think it's perfectly fine to send out bulk greetings on #FF day. I've had friends get back in touch, after losing touch briefly, all thanks to those little #FF tweets. No harm in it, in my opinion. But like you, I'm considering paring down a bit, though my knee-jerk reaction is to do what I want, critics be damned. Still not sure how I'll handle it this week. Stay tuned. 🙂

  • anne wayman January 15, 2013 at 10:26 pm

    I stopped with #ww because it got boring… #ff is okay, and posting links to new blog entries and other interesting stuff, but sometimes it's way more work than any social event I've ever been at.

    Re spam… can you use askismet on this blog? it's free, but I don't know if it works here. Stops almost all blog spam.

  • Susan Johnston January 21, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    I second Anne's recommendation of Akismet! Works pretty well on my WordPress blog.

    Also, I've stopped doing #FollowFriday (now I do #FridayReads instead). But when I did do #FF, I'd focus on one person and explain why they're worth following. I think adding that context makes it so much more valuable than a list of Twitter handles. And it's a nice surprise for the person I'm featuring as well.