Friday, May 3, 2013

Social Media Pet Peeves

The Brian Lehrer Show asked What are your biggest social media pet peeves?

Here are a few of my twitter pet peeves and recommendations, followed by their favorite responses:

When it comes to social media pet peeves, spamming has to rank pretty high up there. While some unsolicited emails from strangers are clearly spam, it is not always clear when something crosses the line from "I think you'll appreciate this" to actual spam. Similarly on social media, where most content is not sent to specific individuals, but is broadcast to people who often view their social feeds sporadically, and friends or followers might easily miss something you posted, is it realistic to only post content once? When does re-posting cross the line from a friendly "ICYMI" (in case you missed it) to spamming peoples' feed? Sometimes it can be very subjective. According to "Spam is flooding the Internet with many copies of the same message, in an attempt to force the message on people who would not otherwise choose to receive it."

I'd like to focus here on a particular type of spam which involves @replies and @mentions on twitter. As per Twitter's Help Center a @reply is any update posted by clicking the Reply button on a Tweet, and a @mention is any Twitter update that contains "@username" anywhere in the body of the Tweet. (Yes, this means that @replies are also considered mentions.) Any Tweet that begins with @username will only appear in the timelines of mutual followers. Any Tweet that does not begin with @username, will be broadcast in the timelines of all the sender's followers. By default a @reply will begin with the recipient's @username, but characters can be appended in front in order to broadcast it to the timelines of all the sender's followers.

This can be used in many ways, some for good, and others for evil (spamming is evil right?). When tweeting a @mention to all your followers, consider why you're doing it that way as opposed to starting the tweet with @username. If you value your followers, be considerate of them.

Broadcasting @mention to all your followers makes sense if you're referencing a tweep to your followers.

Broadcasting @mention to all your followers makes sense if you're making an old style retweet. There are good reasons to make an old style retweet, including:
• If you want to modify the original tweet. Note that in this case it is proper form to replace the RT with an MT.
• If you want to append something to the original tweet. Note that in this case it is proper form to append before the RT/MT.
• If you want tweeps in the original tweet, other than the tweeter to know that you're retweeting.
• If you want to socialize a conversation thread to your followers, then you can paste the old style RT/MT into a reply, which I highly recommend.
• You want your followers who may have blocked your retweets to see this tweet.

Instead of spamming all your followers (as shown
above) send thanks directly (as show below).

If you're broadcasting @mentions to all your followers solely for some perceived benefit of the tweep being mentioned then you're probably spamming the rest of your followers. Why you would do that? Do you think the tweep you're mentioning gains anything more than if you had started the tweet with @username?

The most common reasons I see this include:
• Thanking tweeps for following you.
• Thanking tweeps for mentioning or retweeting you.
• Retweeting personal praise or endorsements. Note that these are already your followers, which mean they already think you're worth following and have very likely seen whatever it was that was retweeted.
• Sending a #FF (Follow Friday). This is a relic from the days when people didn't know who to follow. These days people don't need to be told who to follow and sending out #FF tweets without any context is usually pretty useless. If you really want to endorse a tweep, than give an individualized endorsement including some context as to why they should be followed, or better yet, retweet them, or make your twitter conversations with them public.

Things to note:
• Visiting another user's profile page on Twitter will not display Tweets that mention them. However, you can search for all Tweets mentioning their username in the search box. Search for "@username" to view results.
• People will only see others' @replies in their home timeline if they are following both the sender and recipient of the @reply.
• People will see any mentions posted by someone they follow (all mentions are treated like regular Tweets).
• People with protected Tweets can only send @replies to their approved followers.
• If someone sends you an @reply and you are not following the user, the reply will not appear on your Tweets timeline. Instead, the reply will appear in your Mentions tab.

Here's the complete episode:

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