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For some time now I have been trying to put my finger on why some folks get how to use social media to market themselves or their services and some completely miss the boat. I’ve been trying to identify exactly why one person drives me completely nuts, and another person’s message is welcome, and even met with a smile and desire to share their message. Then it hit me. Social graces. Good, old fashioned manners, courtesy, humor and genuine interest in others. You know, how people have been building relationships since, well, forever. “Social networking” is still just networking, period. Networking is still about people. Just talking to people and building relationships. Hopefully that relationship has value for both parties, whether it’s emotional value or monetary value, it doesn’t matter. You define that value.

So, let’s say you met me in real life. If every other thing out of your mouth was “Read my blog!”, “Buy my stuff!”, “I’m so great!”, “Have you heard how AWESOME my blog is?”, I would run away. Seriously. I might even have to resist the urge to smack you upside the head.

(Ok Sara, then tell us. Tell us how to market ourselves without being an obnoxious doucher.) Gladly.

Ask yourself a few questions:

Am I being myself? — Seriously. Be yourself. This, apparently, is easier said than done. Even the “social media experts” that preach the ever hyped “authentic/transparent” strategy don’t always practice what they preach. How do I know this? I’ve met plenty of them in real life that are quite different than they portray themselves on social networks. That doesn’t work. Why? Because the ultimate goal of networking is usually a real life conversion. If you aren’t really who you portray yourself to be online, you lose my trust.

Do I talk about myself/blog/business too much? — This is highly annoying in real life, and amplified on the web. If the majority of your activity on social networks is telling people about all the great stuff you are doing/have to offer/etc, you are probably coming off as narcissistic. Please stop. Thanks.

Am I courteous to others? — Are you prone to hijacking tweets? Do you take other people’s ideas from one forum and re-purpose as your own on another? Do you “borrow” other peoples snark/funny/content without giving credit? Well, that’s just douchey. (And also plagiarism, asshole.)

Am I the know-it-all? — Yes, yes, you may be a genius. You may have thought of everything before any of the rest of us. We know, you have an opinion on everything. Bless you. Here’s the thing. It’s ok to just shut up every once in awhile. If you did this at a cocktail party in real life, you wouldn’t get many future invitations. Dial it back, mmmkay?

You see, when people in my social network are helpful, courteous, knowledgeable and friendly, I WANT to hear about what they’ve got going on. I WANT to advocate on their behalf. Why? Just like in real life, I want to help my friends. In turn, those friends will want to help me. Together we will both grow our networks of friends, acquaintances, clients and so on.

Unless you are painfully socially awkward, you can do this. You have been building lasting relationships your whole life. Employ what you already know! You know how to NOT be a douchebag. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that your online relationships are any different. They require care and work and time to grow. Be yourself. Listen when other people are speaking. Remember it’s not always about you. If you wouldn’t do it in a real life conversation, don’t do it in an online conversation.

And keep your elbows off the table.

Later Gators.

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In my attempt to be honest about things that grind-my-gears on Twitter, I’m really getting under people’s skin. While I’m not SO much of a jack-ass (although I fully admit to being one) to say things just to get people riled up, I put my opinion out there to get other people thinking. I figure, this is what I think. I do not expect everyone to agree. I do not assume I am an authority on, well, anything. I am merely expressing an opinion, right or wrong. If everything I said was agreeable to every person, I’d be a total fraud. It’s not possible to make everyone happy or to make everyone see your point of view. I’m totally ok with that.

You may not always like what you get, but you know you’ll always get me.

Recently, I expressed my opinion on Twitter about whining (and keeping the small things in perspective). I had no individual person in mind. It was more of a thinking out loud type of rant. Twitter is, among other things, a place where people like to complain. A lot. Sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it’s thought provoking, and sometimes it just gets on my damn nerves. I used SEASONAL allergy symptoms as an example in my rant. I can’t even count how many times a day people tweet about their terrible runny nose, how itchy and puffy their eyes are, how very very miserable they are. I get it. It sucks. But, my point is…that’s LIFE. And if you live a life where what you have to complain about is a runny nose, your life is pretty damned easy. Really, the point is not about allergies or any one thing in particular at all. It is about PERSPECTIVE.

I have watched too many people suffer seriously debilitating illness, injury and loss, and do so with such grace and dignity, NOT to realize how precious this life is. And to be grateful for what I DO have, even if it’s not perfect. I mean, good lord, we ALL have stuff wrong with us. Some people have it harder than others, I’m not dismissing that. I’m just saying that each of has a choice to make. You can live your life as a victim, complaining about everything wrong in your life, or you can adjust your attitude, grab a dose of perspective and say, “Hey, maybe this sucks, but I’m grateful for this life. How can I work to improve this situation?”

Be your own hero. Don’t live your life as a victim. If you are lacking perspective, just open your eyes. The world is full of true suffering: genocide, crimes against humanity, poverty, famine, incurable and vicious diseases, the list goes on. If you feel your “First World problems” are too much to bear, volunteer to help someone out who has it worse than you do. Maybe that will help you get off the complain-train and live your life with gratitude and generosity.

And before anyone jumps down my throat about how I don’t understand, blah blah blah… Stop for a moment and think before you type. Just because someone chooses not to complain about their own life, doesn’t mean they haven’t been in your shoes, or worse.

Perspective.

I love Twitter. I really do. But if you tweet on the regular, you cannot escape the gigantic amount of bullshit floating around the twitter-webs. There are many kinds. Luckily, I have found a number of tweeps that are pretty down-to-Earth, no bullshit kind of people. I like them. A lot.

So why are some people so bullshitty? They are afraid of losing friends, losing potential business, losing *GASP* followers. Every single social media expert on the planet has warned them about “damaging their personal brand”. So, they are told to keep it nice, and polite, and well, kind of boring. I’m guilty of it too. I routinely ignore things that I might otherwise respond to because I hesitate for a second and think, “Is that going to be hurtful? Will they read too much into it? Will they be terribly offended?” Then I usually just leave it be.

Even “THAT GUY”. You all known him (or her). Yeah, I have even ignored THAT GUY when what I really wanted to say was, “You irritate every single person on Twitter. Are you okay with that, or do you want to dial it back some?” We all have a THAT GUY in our streams.

NOTE:

If you don’t have a THAT GUY in your stream, it may be you. You’re welcome.

*sigh*

Twitter is one of the very first places I go for feedback, recommendations, fast, real, information. If everyone is just being nice, where does that get me? I will love you MORE for being real! Be funny! Be angry! Be YOU! (Just don’t be douche-y.)

So, in honor of the real, genuine, AWESOME conversations happening all over the interwebs, I will be taking a shotgun to my personal brand once a week.

For one night a week, Monday night to be exact, I will provide honest, uncensored “no bullshit” feedback on a particular topic. Maybe I’ll pick it. Maybe I’ll let someone else pick it. I don’t know. Whatever I feel like. I get to make the rules.

This isn’t to say that I won’t offer up my opinions, unsolicited or otherwise, during the week. This will be more direct question/answer forum.

So there it is, no bullshit.

Oh, and thanks to @TheGlenn and @TeeCycleTim. This is 100% all your fault. 😉

I like to buy things from IKEA because their selection is typically affordable and generally fits in my smallish type of home. I hate to buy things from IKEA because I typically hate being around a thousand people that generally get on my f#%king nerves. Jennie and I did the IKEA run today and I was reminded of how much I really hate people. I just do. Don’t get me wrong, I love many people (individually), but I also hate many people (all together in a big f#%king idiot mob). Okay, sorry, I’m not myself right now. I just spent way too much time inching my way through three floors of Scandinavian particle board. Oh, and about 73 thousand other people. Alright, it’s really not “people” I hate, it’s the crowds I hate. So in all fairness, I am sorry “Mrs. Man Hands” for not helping you at the self-checkout. (okay, but with those mitts, you should have been golden.) I apologize, “Skinny Girl who bumped into my sister and didn’t say she was sorry”, for shooting you that rude glance/eye roll. (Hey, I get cranky when I haven’t eaten too – and I figure you’re probably still going on the Diet Coke and half of a crouton you decided not to purge on Thursday.) Forgive me, “Ladies with matching black velour track suits” for not answering your question about which line to stand in for the manager’s lunch special. (I realize you may have just overshot Great America and didn’t expect to be making such complex lunching decisions.) And finally, “Woman with lots of money and no brains who brought your 2 week old (if that) newborn to IKEA” – I’m actually not sorry for quietly ridiculing your poor judgment in bringing a tiny newborn to a place like IKEA, but I am sorry that your kid’s brand-spankin-new immune system had to be exposed to 73 thousand germs. I am also sorry that every time I saw you, that poor, tiny baby was crying. Yeah, I’m pretty sure I do actually hate you… I’m not usually this surly, which brings me to the other thing I wanted to talk about. After the birth of each of my girls I was (am currently being) overtaken by a severe case of “post-partum can’t f#%king stop swearing syndrome”. I can’t stop it. I manage to censor myself around Gracie, but dammit, I’m out of control. I’ve tried to substitute, but sometimes you just have to say it. Out loud. With feeling. You might even need to yell it. It just, well, fuck, you know what I mean.

© Sara 2006

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