Social media: the forum for those who suck at relationships?

Trolls. Haters. Pompous asses. By now, many of you have experienced those people who think hiding behind a computer screen – and often, near anonymity – gives them the right to throw all manners to the wind.

Whether a blog post comment that personally insults the writer’s mother or a hand grenade thrown via a sharp Tweet, many people have chosen the bring the worst of themselves online. This is not only annoying to others, it can impact your brand in a negative way. But there’s also lesser known offences about how to network and connect which I’m sure you’ve seen.

What gives?

My theory: Many people are bringing their real-life social skill baggage online.

There is no excuse to bring bad behavior online with you. If you suck at relationships in real life, chances are you’ll suck at them online as well. The medium can’t correct for human flaws around self-awareness, egotism, stubbornness, or civility, no matter how much people might think it does.

Some etiquette blunders I’ve seen:

  1. The Assumptive Connection: Sending a LinkedIn or Facebook connection request to someone you’ve never met or have no connection to – and not explaining in the note why you’re connecting or what the value of that connection might be. If I was sitting alone in a restaurant, would you just walk in, sit down next to me and not even introduce yourself if I had no idea who you were? Of course not. Just because you can click a button doesn’t mean you should. If you want to connect, use the Personalized Note space to say how you found me, why we should connect and how we can help each other. There’s a reason this field exists. Note: this is not an issue if you’ve obviously worked at the same company, met the person live/by phone or have done business with them. This is mostly for those who choose to randomly connect via Group Connections.
  2. The Fan Page Hijack: I’ve been a victim of this myself. One of your fans gets a little overzealous with their message and decides to use your business page as a forum to broadcast it to the world. I’m not talking about legitimate wall posts fans may post  – on my Fan Page, for example, I love if people promote their businesses or projects to each other on my Wall and I highly encourage it. I’m talking about someone who starts shouting their cause or message through the Comments. Not only does it derail the curated conversation you’re trying to have, but it doesn’t add any value to the community. If you disagree with a point being made by the page owner, that is one thing. But to craft 3 consecutive comments with links and aggressive opinions that go off on a tangent, that is entirely another. Be civil, people, and remember it’s a community page. PS : I must admit to being a little pro/con on this one, as I’m aware that some folks use this as a forum to get larger companies to listen or to protest, as in the recent Chick-fil-A controversy. I guess I’d argue it depends on the issue and the size of the company. Arguing with a Fan Page owner who supports a certain charity, for instance, is probably the best case of overstepping the bounds.
  3. The Over-Poster: I’m not sure if people realize this or not, but when you post 6 or 7 Facebook or Twitter posts in a row, you affect your friends and followers by “hogging” their mobile stream on a smart phone. One person I know, for example, had really interesting posts, but it got to the point where she’d crowd out all the updates from my other friends on my phone. It’s good to post valuable content – but not 9 or 10 times in a row. That’s just annoyng. There are scheduling tools like Tweetdeck and Hootsuite you can use – and even Facebook allows you to schedule posts on Fan Pages now. Use the tools. Just because it’s easier for you to write all your posts at the same time each day, doesn’t mean it’s easier for your audience to consume them all at the same time. Besides, studies show Fan pages lose subscribers and people lose FB friends if you post too often.

 What social media practices bug you the most? What bad behavior have you seen to add to this list? Please share in the Comments below!

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