Remember being a kid and your mom lecturing you about manners? My mom was the head of the Good Manners Gestapo. “Sit up straight.” “Chew with your mouth closed, please.” “Don’t slam the doors.” “Use those ab muscles when you sit down. No plopping!” “It’s, ‘Yes, ma’am.’” “Um, please?” “Thank you.” “You’re welcome.” “Can you go outside? I don’t know. Can you? Are you capable? Are your legs broken? It’s ‘May I please go outside.’“”She did what? She, who? The cow’s mother?”
“Did you ask them nicely?” “No, you need to pick up this mess before we leave.” “Hey, lower your voice. Not everyone wants to hear what you have to say.” “Turn down that music. Others have the right to peace and quiet.”
Where Mom left off, my Kindergarten teacher took up. “Stand in line.” “Wait your turn.” “Ask permission.” “Keep your hands to yourself.”
Starting to feel six years old yet?
Why is it we value manners so much?
Manners show others we value them, that we respect them. Manners pave the way for relationship. Manners show that we have empathy and consideration for others, that we listen and we care. It is pretty difficult to be self-centered and have good manners at the same time, so good manners are generally a sign of a kind person worthy of our company.
Marketing without Manners is Destructive
In all this huzz-buzz about marketing and promotion, I feel one of the key factors being lost is this idea of good manners. When we are rude, thoughtless and trample through someone’s digital world without any common consideration, there’s a good chance that people will not appreciate our presence. If people groan when they see us, odds are they won’t be rushing out to buy our book or tell others how awesome we are.
In a digital world of no faces, body language or boundaries, we need to be more mindful of manners than ever before.
Back to the Basics
To properly teach social media, I feel I must address common courtesy and etiquette. We’d like to believe this stuff is just common sense, but common sense isn’t ever common. We could have the best book in the history of the ABCs, but if people hate us because we are rude, then no promotion will help. Today, we will start with some Twitter etiquette.
I posit this thought. All we ever needed to know about social media success, we learned in Kindergarten.
RULE #1 Listening is as Important as Talking—We don’t need to tweet all the time, every hour to be heard.
A lot of social media experts are putting undue pressure on writers to be on social media every waking moment. Feeling stressed, many writers resort to automation (because all of us just LOVE talking to and hearing from bots). Relax. Hop on a couple times a day with the goal of three genuine interactions.
A little goes a long way and we remember real people. We ignore (then report and block) bots. We won’t buy books from spam bots, and we won’t send them money to get the rest of our inheritance from Ghana either.
News flash! Twitter is….global. If you can’t tweet when you are at work, don’t sweat it. Twitter doesn’t have visiting hours. No matter what hour of the day you hop on, I guarantee you people will be tweeting. I once had a bout of insomnia that earned me a heck of a following in the UK.
We have to be present to listen. Be real. Others will appreciate it.
RULE #2 You Will Be Graded on Attendance and Participation—NO AUTOMATION, PERIOD
Every time I tell people to not automate or program tweets I get argument. Feel free to automate but I will tell you two truths.
1) We are all ignoring you, and eventually we will report and block you and then we will just hate you.
We don’t pay attention to auto-tweets. Guess what? We don’t read the crap in our spam folders, either. And don’t try to make it look like you are tweeting for real. We are sharp. We spotted the guy in the HOV lane with a blow-up doll, too. We resented him for insulting our intelligence, and we will resent you, too.
2) Programmed tweets can get out of control and land you in hot water.
Recently on #MyWANA we had a link-spammer who would not stop spamming #MyWANA. I tweeted nicely and asked her to stop. So did at least a dozen other people. When nice didn’t work, we tried not-nice and tweeted “WHY ARE YOU SPAMMING #MyWANA? STOP!” I even blogged, then blogged AGAIN to make the mission and rules of #MyWANA clear and to gently discourage her behavior.
Still, she kept posting links…and more links…and, yes, even MORE links.
We finally blocked and reported her so much that Twitter shut down her account. What did she do? She opened a new one (or unlocked the reported account) and started link-spamming #MyWANA AGAIN, no matter how many times we told her that #MyWANA was for community.
Why didn’t she listen? Likely because she’d set up automation. Because she wasn’t present, she couldn’t see the fierce hatred we all had for her. Every time we saw her name, we saw red.
When I awoke yesterday to an entire column of tweets from this woman on #MyWANA, I took the fight to Facebook. This got her attention. She apologized and said she was only trying to help writers, that she had a good intentions, and I believe her but:
Good intentions + horrible manners = ticked off followers
While she claims she never automated, I don’t know if I quite buy that. If she was present on Twitter and watching the column she was
spamming using, she would have seen how she was being received.
***Twitter hint: If people are tweeting you telling you that you suck, that is NOT a good thing, so stop doing whatever you are doing that is ticking people off.
Automation can save time, and up your SEO, sure, sure, but it can also make a giant mess that taints your brand. In September’s issue of Fast Company Magazine , Baratunde Thurston, The Onion’s director of digital, talks about he almost ruined the company’s brand by using Tweetlater.
His iPhone short-circuited from all the hate mail.
RULE #3 Each of Us Gets One Turn—We only need one identity on Twitter…really.
Another reason the #MyWANA link-spammer ended up in hot water was that she not only insisted on posting link after link after link on #MyWANA with no conversation, but she had multiple identities doing the same thing. She not only had a twitter ID with her author name, she had one for her company (that offers services to writers).
Great, so not only was she a bot, she was a bot with multiple personalities.
***Twitter hint: Link-spamming with one personality is dumb. Link-spamming from multiple-personalities is borderline suicidal.
If our followers are greeting us with digital torches and pitchforks, that isn’t a good thing. Also, here is a definition of spam so there is no confusion.
Spam: Messages with no humanity or engagement.
It is called social media. Twitter is not our personal infomercial. People are on social media for community. If we are not talking to people and present, we are a bot.
If we are doing something that is offending people and they are trying to tell us, but we aren’t even there? THAT is spam, no matter how good our heart was for posting whatever we were posting.
RULE #4 Play Well with Others—Follow any #s we regularly use and pay attention to the Mentions column.
Let’s say I buy the story that the #MyWANA link-spammer didn’t automate. Okay. Well, then she clearly wasn’t watching the #MyWANA column that she so freely used or she would have seen her tweets clogging up the stream and would have seen the WANAs pleading with her to cease and desist. If she’d checked her @Mentions, she would have gotten the tweets calling her out, and would have seen the rising anger.
When I tweet links, I regularly use, #MyWANA, #amwriting and #pubtip, but guess what? I follow ALL of those hash tags. I watch the columns. I am very careful to not tweet too many links, and I am vigilant to make sure I don’t clog a #.
If I RT a link that uses #s, I change them so I don’t clog a hash tag. If I don’t change them, I at least remove them. I do all of this to make sure my social media behavior is not ruining the social media experience for others.
Remember that social media is a form of communication. Communication has three parts:
As the sender of a message, it is our responsibility to keep tabs on how and if our message is being received.
RULE #5 Remember the Golden Rule—Tweet Unto Others as You Would Have Them Tweet Unto You
Social media works best when we are all vigilant about the feelings of others. Do we want non-stop links blasted at us? No. So why would we think it’s a good plan to do it to others? Do we like direct mailings, junk mail, and flyers jammed under our windshield wipers? No. Then why are we blitzing people to buy our books?
Do we just looooove it when vacuum cleaner salespeople interrupt our family time at dinner trying to sell us something? No. Then why are we interrupting the social time of others to sell them stuff? Do we like friends or family who only talk to us when they want something? Do we like people who talk all the time, who never listen and never ask our opinion? No. Okay, then focus on relationships, on giving instead of taking.
Like I said, all we ever needed to learn about social media we learned in Kindergarten ;).
What are your thoughts? What unspoken social rules do you feel still exist on social media? What ways do you serve others? What suggestions would you offer to make social media more social? Was your mother part of the Good Manners Gestapo?
I LOVE hearing from you guys!
To prove it and show my love, for the month of August, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.
I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.
At the end of August I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!
I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.