After three years on Twitter, here are my ‘Simple 4’ rules to live by
Originally published on: willpollock.com
Filed in: Social Media Story & Photos by Will Pollock
(ATLANTA :: 27 April 2011) - In celebration of hovering around 400 Twitter followers - clearly, some of the smartest folks on the web - I give you my “Simple Four” social-media tips and suggestions. Here we go:
1. Leave dirty laundry to the cleaners. Your best pal, your hairdresser, or perhaps an unlucky neighbor - those folks are the sympathetic ear you’re looking for. They could also be the object of your ire; don’t complain about someone or something unless you’re a) saying explicitly why it matters and b) following it with a solution. Any complaints about people in particular will feel to your readers as venting and sour grapes. Contribute to discourse and two-way discussion, because, in the end...
2. It ain’t about you. This web-advice gem came from a talk I heard from the incredible Peter Shankman, offered mostly to folks who get pissed off about something or someone, and take that complaint to Twitter or Facebook. “I deserved that promotion.” “I hate my sister.” “My colleague is a douchebag.” Or, a more specific Facebook post from a friend in response to a celebratory, pre-grilling food picture I loaded to Facebook: “That looks like dog food. Food pictures are my pet peeve!” I care about that, why? How about you be irritated in your quiet voice and let me, and the rest of us, celebrate a fun moment? (The turkey burgers were exceptional, btw.) Make your posts useful to your friends and followers, or run the risk of appearing self-aggrandizing.
The “offending” Facebook dinner preview Make your posts about your friends and followers - in this case, inspiration for cooking recipes - or run the risk of sounding vapid, self-obsessed and useless to the people who look to you for wisdom. 3. Don’t be a jerk. This is pretty straightforward: be respectful and always keep it classy. Here’s an example in support of this bullet, courtesy of the seemingly thin-skinned @Shoq on Twitter. After questioning his fiercely one-sided impugning of people who are concerned about Bradley Manning’s treatment - and after I joined with @a_picazo in asking him why - he Tweeted this: “.@wildcatatl (I’m now @bywillpollock) I think you might either be sleeping with @a_picazo, trying to, or alternatively, you're just fucking stupid.” He then blocked me from his stream. I honestly didn’t understand why this otherwise progressive voice was railing on people so hard, without proof or support of his skepticism, and I honestly wanted to know why. The lesson: engage in conversations and debates in a mature way and do not needlessly/mindlessly flame people. Especially folks who know how to post about it later. 4. Always, whenever possible, include links. Be kind, support your findings. Your followers want to learn more about your positions and opinions. Tweets are nominations, if you will, for the most compelling news items of the day. Go to Mashable for more on this topic. The immediate click-through rate isn’t staggering, but if someone is evaluating your Twitter stream to decide if they want to follow you, those links will stay there and quite likely help you later.
Folks on the Internet want engagement, not one-sided preaching or personal blather. Scale to and maintain the high road - in the end, you’ll be rewarded. :)
UPDATE: (Sept. 2012) A year has passed since this post and I’m now hovering at 600 followers - thank you all so much. As with all social media, though, it’s the engagement and interaction that matters. I will continue to follow the above tenets, and come up with some new tips soon… particularly after visiting ASJA 2012. The social-media engagement there was about as robust as I’ve ever seen.
UPDATE 2: (5 Oct. 2014) About to pass the 1,300 follower mark, and I’m again humbled. Grown organically, I might add, using the above tips as my foundation and building out from there. (Randy Ross has some great tips for building an audience—he’s taught me a great deal, too.) I’m always about engagement: when I see something I like, I always say something. I don’t care if you’re a celebrity or a schmo down the street—I’ll tell you when something inspires me, and you ought to do the same. I could have 100,000 new followers, a 3-book deal with Penguin and a first-look gig with Universal tomorrow, but I’d still operate the same way. I’ll always be wishing huge success for all of you and for me.