Personal Branding 101: Privacy and Porn

One of my favorite things to do on Twitter is see who other people are following.  It gives this wonderful sense of spying, like you’re seeing something you’re not supposed to be seeing.  It’s also a great way to see who other people consider important and find new people to follow.  

Unfortunately, for every gem you’ll find, you can also find a turd.  And every now and then, you’ll find an atomic bomb like I did.

I was browsing who a Twitter user followed the other night.  Everything starts normally, and I see a bunch of people we have in common and some celebrities. Then, I start noticing a number of strange profiles.  Their avatars are grainy and have pictures of increasingly scantily clad bodies.  My curiosity led me to a couple of profiles, where I realize that this person followed a significant number of pornographers.

I wouldn’t have cared at first, but this person named his/her account “MyName_JobTitle.” Really.  Name, job, and face all right there following a barely covered behind. Not only do I know what they like to read and who they like to talk to, but I also know how they like to get down and do the nasty.

Unless you are involved in the adult industry, and face it, if you’re reading this blog, you probably are not, there is no reason you should use a public account with your name, face, and personal info to connect with naughty pictures and materials.  You don’t need a social account to find porn online.  If you really want to let out your inner social media slut, make a separate account.  Don’t use your real name and photo, and have fun.  Don’t ruin your image and name by attaching your identity and work life.  If you have to ruin your professional life, at least do so in a way that has a good story.

I don’t really care who you follow online. I do care that you make yourself look the best you can online.  You don’t want your clients and friends to find out everything about you from your Twitter account.  You’re an adult, you should know better.  Start acting like one.

Why I don’t follow your brand on Twitter

I follow people on Twitter for because they either have information or entertain me.  Notice I said people.  Not brands.  Not companies.  People.

I firmly believe all social media is about connecting with people online.  The most massive social media networks, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, are all about connecting with other people.  Companies are secondary.  I like knowing that the avatar I’m communicating with is more than a mindless PR or marketing slave stuck behind a computer all day.

When I think of brands on Twitter, I want the same two things I want from people: information, entertainment and a connection with a person.  Your brand fails because either you’re inhuman, you’re not informing me, or not entertaining me, and I consider myself easily entertained.

If you’re going for the information route, put up something more than just your PR releases and photos.  I can easily see those on a bunch of other websites, and they’re more likely to grab my attention than a short tweet.  Show me a neat fact or photo I’m not going to see anywhere else.  Teach me something about your service I didn’t know.  Find links that will be relevant to people interested in your products.  If you really get into this, you’ll start bleeding into the category of entertainment.

Entertainment seems harder because you’ll need to bring a smile, but I’ve seen great people even make lightbulbs seem cool on Twitter.  If someone can make lighting awesome, you can do it too. Find cool ways people are using your product.  Show what life the fun side of life at your office. Show how your competitor’s product fails.

Most importantly, let me know there is a person behind the avatar.  I want to connect with the person behind the logo.  I don’t need to know their life story, but just the sparkling of a personality behind the corporate facade is enough to take your presence from ordinary to amazing.

Once you can do that, maybe then I’ll start following your company.  Until then, I’ll just talk about you with my real friends.

Death to the Fail Whale!

The fail whale is like my cat when she throws up on the carpet.  At first, I notice that my fuzzy carpet has been replaced with a cold and mushy puddle of vomit.  Then, I’ll usually notice the culprit being completely adorable over in the corner, pretending that it didn’t happen.

The absolutely wonderful graphic of the whale hides the fact that I can’t find the information I want and connect with the people I want to.  It’s a chilly puddle of puke, telling me to “Please wait a moment and try again.”  But what is a moment?  30 seconds?  5 minutes?  An hour?  Sure, I can go check the Twitter status page, but that isn’t made obvious from the Fail Whale, and even then it usually doesn’t give a clear idea of when the service will be back.

There is no reason we should still have a fail whale.  If Twitter wants to keep and attracting users, they need a stable platform.  People and Businesses need reliability.  People will migrate to other services if they aren’t guaranteed a reliable and consistent experience.

To contrast Twitter’s stability issues, I present Facebook. Facebook has 400 million users who upload text, photos, and videos, every minute of every day.  I can’t think of a moment when Facebook has gone down in the six years I’ve used it.  A Google search for “Facebook Down” brought one instance up, and the rest of the results were varied.  Meanwhile, searching “Twitter Down” brings up a host of utilities to see if Twitter is working at the moment.

I realize Twitter serves millions of people all around the globe for free, but we deserve a platform that doesn’t crap out and try cover it up with cuteness.

Stop Worrying and Shamelessly Promote Your Articles

I suck at writing headlines.  It takes me forever to summarize my posts in a few words.  The headlines I usually come up with have little or no SEO value.  My only redeeming factor is that the titles I do come up with are often funny and memorable.

With my weaknesses in mind, I began an experiment recently using The Anti-Social Media’s Twitter.  I’m sorry I didn’t tell you, but it was more fun scientific that way.  With that in mind, let’s break down this experiment 6th grade scientific method style.

Hypothesis:  I believe I am a crappy headline writer. I intend to prove this realization by posting the same article on Twitter twice in the same day with different headlines to see what gets more page views.

Method: I posted my articles to Twitter using the original headline in the morning around 9 am EST.  In the afternoon, I’d post under a different headline.  As a control, I’d reposted some articles using the original headline.

Results:  Results were varied. One post spread rapidly under the the different title.  Other posts stayed relatively the same as others.  All pages that were reposted to Twitter had more views than if they had only been posted once.

Conclusion:  I’m not sure if I proved I am a crappy headline writer from this experiment.  All of the posts that were reposted got more views, regardless of headline.  This increase may be a result of people not seeing the original posts in the morning, especially for my readers in different timezones than me.

Besides one post, different headlines didn’t seem to have a huge effect.  I’m just going to trust my instincts on this one for now and keep using my original titles.  Hopefully I’ll get better at titling as I keep writing more.

Overall though, posting just once didn’t seem to be enough, so clearly putting the same thing out there twice is worthwhile.  If that’s the case, how can I repost an article without alienating my followers.  The last thing I want to do is make my followers feel like I’m spreading the same content over and over.  Here are some ground rules I came up with.

  • Only promote and repost the article on the day that I published it.  If it doesn’t catch on today, it’s not going to catch on tomorrow.
  • Separate the new posts from the reposts with the tag “New Post!” in front.  This gives readers a visual cue as to what is new content.
  • If the readers and followers start complain incessantly, quit reposting.  You’ve got bigger fish to fry.

I want to know if you’ve experimented with reposting articles on Twitter.  Was it successful?  Was it sexy?  Was it a complete failure?  Let me know how your science project turns out.

Stop Linking All of your Social Accounts!

Would you give the exact same greeting to everyone you see in a day?  No, because that’s crazy.  You don’t want to be known as a weirdo, so you don’t say “Howdy partner!” to everyone you come across.  Unfortunately, when you start linking all of your accounts together, all of your followers and connections start looking at you like you rode so far into the sunset you fried your brain.

There was a time when I used to sync my tweets with my Facebook status.  It seemed logical because I was using Twitter as a method of updating my networks with snarky observations.  It was awesome.  My reach for each tweets was practically tripled because of my number of Facebook friends.

However, there came a point when my tweets were overwhelming my Facebook.  A lot of my Facebook friends didn’t care about the crap I retweeted.  They didn’t understand the awkward hashtags.  Worse, I had my blog posts linked to Facebook and my Twitter account, so Facebook would get hit with them twice.  Thank goodness LinkedIn statuses couldn’t be synced with tweets at that time, or I’d probably never have made a connection there.

It makes sense to want to link pages together.  It helps your connections find out everything you’re doing.  It makes it easy to publish stuff without thinking, “Did I forget to post there?”  However, there’s a point where if a person is connected to you in more than one instance, they are bombarded by your content.  People get enough content from everywhere else online, and they don’t want to be annoyed with ten instances of the same crappy article.

Another problem I run across is that these account are synced incorrectly, and I’ll see the same thing automatically reposted two or three times by the same person.  When it’s reached that level of meltdown, I don’t read your content and instead start thinking about ways to fix your accounts.

Consider your audiences.  Would you want the same people your connected with on LinkedIn reading everything you put on Facebook?  I sure as hell wouldn’t.  I don’t even connect this blog with my personal Facebook account because I don’t think my friends want to read this stuff daily.

If you have to integrate, do it so your audiences find relevant content.  Don’t just do it to make things easier.  You’re better than that, and your readers will appreciate you for it.

Even More Tweets I Hate

Some tweets make me want to claw my eyes out with a spork.  Even though I haven’t posted in a while about the tweets make me wish I had been born without the capacity for written language, I still see awful tweets.  Tweets that are boring.  Tweets that are unoriginal.  Tweets that make sense to no one, not even the original author.  Here are some awful tweets I’m seeing recently.

  1. Good Night - This tweet is a cornucopia of mixed messages.  One one hand, it says, “Readers, I’m still here!”  On the other hand, it says, “I am now sleeping, leave me alone.”  Your followers have common sense.  Not only will they realize you’re still alive if you don’t tweet for twelve hours, they will also leave you alone after midnight.  Unless they are psychopaths.
  2. The Photo Without Explanation -This is similar to the link with no explanation, but I can tell it’s a picture from the URL you posted. However, I worry about what I’m in for without an explanation.  It’s not hard to write “Cute Puppies!” or “This girl make you cry”  Just put something so I know I’m not looking at your butt.
  3. Anything about your iPad - I’m not jealous.  At least not yet.  But still, I don’t need to know how awesome it, how it’s cooler than a laptop, or how it saved a kitten from a fire.  Until you can justify talking about your iPad in terms of usefulness, please, keep your iPraise to your iSelf.
  4. Multi-Part Tweets - No matter how fast you write, someone in my stream will always interrupt your story.  ALWAYS.  I don’t care that you were kind and used a (1/2) and (2/2) to help me follow.  It still gets broken up.  It takes me much more time to read it than it should.  Twitter is all about concision.  If you need an example to learn how to tell a story quickly, check out Fireland.  If it can’t be told in one tweet, is it right for Twitter?
  5. Drunk Tweets - Do I need to say more?  If I do, you may have a problem.

This is your chance to vent.  Let me know what you’re seeing out there that gets under your skin.

Lost, TV, and Social Media

I had too many friends tweeting and Facebooking and blogging about the series finale of Lost last night.  I don’t think there could ever be any better publicity.  Every time there was a new episode, a new twist, any character development, or even if the wind blew in a scene, people wrote about it.  Hell, the people who had never seen an episode wrote asking what all the fuss was about.

I’ve never seen Lost, but I felt I needed to watch part of the finale to try and get in on the fuss. Was I missing some cultural event, like the finale of M.A.S.H or Seinfeld?  I didn’t understand any of it, but now I feel like I can at least relate to my friends in some twisted way.

It’s also a strange way of relating to people.  Instead of watching shows because I enjoy them, I caved to online peer pressure.  I didn’t gain anything for it, but I’m sure ABC appreciated me boosting their ratings, and their advertising revenues.

TV has changed significantly in recent years, but live and one time events have become bigger, especially as people write about them online.  It’s a strange way of being social in watching TV.  Instead of inviting friends over to have party, we can just sit at home and write out our commentary.  No one is interrupted; no dialogue is missed.

I don’t know how much it makes the viewing experience that much more enjoyable for Lost fans or for any program.  It seems distracting to me, something that would pull me out of the moment in viewing the show.  Instead of absorbing all the audio and visual details, we split attention with the commentary on our computer.  Perhaps that’s fine for an awards show, like the Oscars, where you don’t need to see every moment, but I’d still rather have my friends nearby.

Do you tweet as you watch TV?  Is it fun, annoying, or distracting?  I want to know what’s going on.

And no, please don’t try to explain Lost to me.  I’ve given up on that years ago.

What Drives You Nuts?

I’ve been spending this week playing catch up with Social Media news, but most people are still talking about Facebook privacy.  I’m sick of Facebook.  There’s only so much I can cover in terms of Facebook before I start going in circles.

I want to know what’s driving you all nuts right now on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, wherever.  What are you all seeing that makes the internet a worse place to be? What’s going to hell?  Let me know.

Refriending and the Awkward World of Frenemies

I’m a big advocate of unfollowing people and unfriending them online.  I can’t keep up with everything.  I’ve made bad decisions of who I let in my online life.  So every now and then, I go and purge some people who I don’t communicate with, or just have no desire to keep up with anymore.

However, these purges lead to the awkward act of being refriended.

There’s nothing more awkward than someone adding you as a friend again, when you know you purposely removed them.  You don’t want to say “You suck at Facebook, stay out of mine.” At the same time however, you don’t want to let them know you have open contempt for them.

I usually hit the ignore button.  If I’ve removed you once, I did it for a decent enough reason.  On the other hand, I’ve known friends who will lie and say they never got the request.  Or, every now and then I’ve seen people sit on requests for ages so they don’t have to deal with them.

The world of online frenemies is complex and tricky.  With so much information online, it’s important to let in people whom we trust and who won’t screw us over.  Still, being friended again is still the most awkward part of my anti-social media job.

What should we be talking about?

I see the same conversations over and over in the social media blogs I read.  It’s boring, it’s redundant, and it just proves no one actually reads what people put online.

Here’s what the social media savvy are talking about:

  • Personal Branding
  • Employment Branding
  • Facebook Privacy
  • Geolocation
  • ROI
  • Social Graphing
  • The iPad

There’s enough being said about personal branding to kill anyone.  Employers can figure out how they brand themselves online without having all of us tell them how to do it.  I’m over Facebook. Geolocation bores me.  If you can’t figure out how to measure ROI for your social media, you shouldn’t use social media for business.  I’m over websites trying to figure out what I want before I know what I want.  I’m sick of the iPad.

    Here’s what I think we should be talking about:

    • Online Identity
    • Anonymity vs Real Identity
    • Social Media Investment
    • Social Media Responsibility

    Let me break down what I mean by these:  With online identity, I mean the concept of who people are online and all the information associated with the name.  There is no way to control all of the information about you online, so you have little control over what identity there is online.  It’s all a crap shoot to control the top and seemingly most relevant answers

    This ties into the second point, Anonymity vs Real Identity.  As Facebook and LinkedIn add more and more users, we are slowly ditching the screen names we made up online for our real names.  While this is great for some people, I think there is a benefit to having a screen name only a select few people know.  Also, as much as we hate trolls, there are a lot of good reasons for someone to need to say something anonymously or direct certain comments about them elsewhere.

    One thing I worry about often is what I am investing in social media.  We slowly lose the human connection to one another between apps and blogs and tweets.  What do I lose sitting in front of a computer all day when I could be with my friends?  Have you ever seen a movie with a positive view of the future where everything was so connected and always on?

    Finally, I think a lot of what I worry about boils down to who is responsible for what.  Am I in charge of my tweets in five years or is Twitter?  When I post pictures on Facebook, who’s in control of those?  What information is kosher for marketers glean off of any network?  None of this is crystal clear for users, and it needs to be.

    What do you think we need to talk about?