I love Twitter and Facebook. Chatting random crap with strangers all over the world, sharing whatever nonsense happens to be in my head at any given moment, and staying in touch with real-world friends in as many ways as possible were always going to get my vote.
But there are times when Twitter and Facebook – or rather, the people using them – really annoy me.
I can’t claim to speak for all users of Twitter and Facebook, obviously. But I think I’m fairly average, so chances are, if these bad habits that certain Twitter and Facebook users have fallen into get up my nose, they’ll get up the noses of other people too.
This post isn’t a guide to using Facebook for business, or the seven sins of Twitter marketing; it’s an idiot’s guide to royally p***ing me off, and other average Joes (or average Debses) like me.
1. Excessive affiliate links
I know you’re using Twitter as a business tool. That’s cool – so am I (though you’d never guess it sometimes, the amount of pointless crap I spout). And I know you’ll want to slip in an affiliate link sometimes, and make a few bob from people clicking it. That’s also cool; we all have bills to pay. I understand.
But DO NOT bombard my Twitter timeline, or my Facebook feed, with non-stop affiliate ads. If you do, I’ll unfollow you. I may even block you. If I’m really annoyed, I’ll even report you.
Listen carefully: I. Do. Not. Like. Spam.
Worth noting: If you follow me, I won’t automatically follow you back. I will visit your profile, see what you’ve posted recently, and if it’s all affiliate ads… that’s the one and only time I’ll see them, ‘cos I sure as hell won’t be following you back.
Tip: Say something interesting/funny/useful 95% of the time, and I’ll forgive you the odd affiliate link. If it’s a good one, I may even click it. I may even make a purchase.
2. Me, me, me (you, you, you)
Don’t get me wrong; I love knowing what people are doing. Random status updates can be very entertaining. The more random, the better (there are some wonderfully random ones in my Twitter favourites – they still tickle me).
But please don’t talk about yourself in glowing terms, non-stop. I’ll make my own mind up as to how wonderful you are, thank you very much. It’s nice that you’ve won awards for your sausages. Really, it is. I’m pleased for you. But could you talk about something else occasionally please?
Here’s an example of the sort of “me, me, me” posts that make me grind my teeth:
- Mentioning your award winning sausages at every opportunity. Examples: “…because people love my award-winning sausages (available at www.awardwinningsausages.com) so much…” or “ah yes, the same thing happened to me when I created my first award winning sausage (available at www.awardwinningsausages.com)”. Your bio already says that you create award winning sausages, and it shows your website address. You don’t need to go on about them.
- The vast majority of your posts are news about your business. If I’m following you, it’s probably because I want to know what your latest news is. But not all the time. And not the same link to the same news, over and over again. Intersperse news posts with fun stuff you’ve found, or conversations with other users (even me – I don’t bite!) and you’ll keep my attention for much longer.
- Excessive dull status updates/posts. For example: “Just popping down the shop for some sausages. BRB.” or “Eating a sausage sandwich.” Yes, I know it says “what are you doing?” – but that’s not an invitation to share the most boring details of your life. Don’t take it literally.
- Too much info. Unless I know you very well, I don’t want to know about your piles or your sex life. And even then, it’s debatable. Save ultra-personal stuff for your personal profile and your real-life friends. I’m a big advocate of giving business social media accounts a good strong dose of personality – it’s a great way to promote your brand and engage with your customers – but there is a line. Don’t cross it.
3. “Inspirational” quotes
This one irritates me so much, I could scream.
I hate ‘inspirational’ quotes at the best of times. Just because they inspire you, doesn’t mean they’ll inspire me too.
But there are some Twitter members who post nothing but ‘inspirational’ quotes. All. Day. Long. Aaaaarrrrrgggghhhh!
You know the quotes I’m talking about. They’re lines from scripture, or from philosophers, or ‘great’ marketers, or business giants, or ‘gurus’ of any sort. I’m sure Confucius was a jolly nice chap, with an interesting view of the world. But if I wanted to know his philosophy on successful sausage making, I would use Google to search for it. I don’t need you ramming Confucius, or Gandhi, or Kennedy, or Branson, down my throat 24/7, thank you very much.
As far as I’m concerned, there is only one ‘inspirational’ quote that anybody needs in their life:
“Wherever you go, that’s where you are.” – Mike Brady, the Brady Bunch Movie, 1995
4. If it can be automated, automate it
I can’t emphasise this enough: I only want to engage with human beings. Don’t auto-Tweet stuff at me; I’m not interested. If I decide to follow you, don’t “reward” me with an auto-DM thanking me for following you and reminding me of your website address. If I mention that I had sausages for tea, don’t auto-Tweet me your latest sausage wholesale prices. Don’t automatically follow me just because I mentioned sausages once, two months ago; it doesn’t mean that I want to hear about your sausages every time I’m online.
There are some fantastic Twitter tools which do some really clever and useful stuff. I use a couple myself. But please: don’t over-use them. Learn to balance automation with being human, and you’ll have a much better chance of keeping my attention.
5. DM spam
As far as I’m concerned, me following your business on Twitter is a special privilege. Don’t abuse it by sending me DM spam. If you do, I’ll probably un-follow you. And possibly have a good moan about it, publicly, if you’re a repeat offender.
Direct messages on Twitter, and inbox messages on Facebook, are for sending me things that can’t be shared publicly, as far as I’m concerned. Email addresses, phone numbers, juicy gossip about some rotten cow I used to work with, that sort of thing. There’s nothing private about your spam. If you want to advertise something, do it – but not in my inbox. That’s an invasion of my privacy, and it annoys the hell out of me.
How to get it right
Again, I can’t speak for anybody else, but if it’s my attention on Twitter or Facebook you want (and God knows why you do, but it’s nice to feel wanted, so thank you) there are a few very simple ways to not only get it, but keep it.
- If you can get me to engage with you, the person, you’re well on the way to getting me to engage with your brand. I want to know you’re human, you have a sense of humour, and are paying attention to me as much as I am to you. Having said that…
- …know how to string a sentence together without excessive misspellings. If your writing skills are really that bad, get someone literate to manage the account for you instead (hint, hint). Yes, I want to know you’re human. But that doesn’t include writing like you only picked up a crayon for the first time two days ago.
- Talk about your news, share your latest blog post, or tell me about your new product, by all means. But no more than 20% of the time. Otherwise it gets really tedious. Share some fun stuff sometimes too. Or tell me about something mad that happened on the way to work. Or join my discussion about sausages that look like Barbara Windsor. Engage me!
If there’s a point to this story, other than highlighting what a grumpy, self-important nit I can be at times, it’s this: Auto-tweet your spam, your affiliate links and your ‘inspirational’ quotes all day long, if you want. Talk about how wonderful you are, and tell us about your bloody fabulous sausages until the cows (or pigs) come home. But try to remember that people who use social media for business are still, on the whole, people.
And if they’re anything like average old me, they’re un-following you as we speak.