It almost feels like five is too low a limit, but there you go; I’m sticking with it. Without further ado, five things people tend to say about Twitter, Facebook and other social media networks (no point in mentioning them by name, as they’ll all be gone in a year or two) that I wish they wouldn’t.
1. It’s a waste of time. Whether you’re an author, an SEO consultant, or a person who just likes to tweet about their day-to-day existence, social media is not a waste of time. If you’re getting something out of it, it’s not wasting your time, is it? Connecting with people, sharing ideas, learning about the world, following the news – yes, clearly this is all pointless. C’mon!
2. Team follow back! I don’t know who invented this bizarre trend of following someone to gain a single follower back, but let me smash through your preconceptions of how amazing that is, and explain something to you: a non-celebrity with 50,000 followers, and 50,000 friends, is not good at social media. A non-celebrity with 50,000 followers and a hundred friends definitely is. Why? Because lots of people follow that person because they are interesting, or funny, or both, or other cool things. They follow a few people, because to follow 50,000 people means your feed will be utter garbage.
3. Twitter analytics are informative when it comes to potential sales. No, they’re not. Tweeting to your 100,000 followers about a new laptop doesn’t mean you’ll have sold a hundred thousand laptops by the time you leave work. It means that most of the people following you will see it (some don’t check all the tweets gone past in the time since they last checked, some follow too many to keep up with). Social media works similarly to any other kind of advertising. You could have a tweet on the TV screen, half-time at the World Cup. Doesn’t mean everyone watching it thinking “right, off to the shops”.
4. It is only for self-promotion. You know what happens if fifty people shout their thoughts into a room with earplugs in? No one actually hears anyone else, and everybody leaves the room none the wiser. This is what happens when people assume that Twitter is a DIY RSS feed. Talk to people. Respond to people. Don’t plug your stuff all day long – it’s monotonous and makes you look incredibly self-centred. This goes for businesses, too.
5. Automation is fine. No, it’s not. Seeing a clearly automated tweet on my feed, whether it’s from some site charting what game someone’s playing to an announcement by FourSquare that someone’s out of their house (nice job – burglars will be pleased to hear that) drives me up the wall. It’s one thing to have it link to a blog post, and sometimes that … on the end of an automated blog announcement can be intriguing, as I recently found out. But can the rest of it. It makes you sound generic and thoughtless.
That’s just five – I’m glad I didn’t title this list “five things I wish people would stop saying on Twitter”, as five thousand would not be a long-enough list.