One thing you get a lot of in the online world is advice. Whether it’s rife with buzz words or filled to the brim with wisdom for the ages, advice seems to be everywhere. In every bloggy nook, in every Twitter cranny, there you will find more advice just waiting for you to uncover it and take it to heart.
There’s a little problem though. A lot of the people offering this advice don’t seem to follow their own advice very often. When you think about engagement, this is a significant problem. Not following your advice can make you look like a hypocrite. It can make people think “do as you say, not as you do” when you pop into a chat. None of these things are good.
There are four bits of advice in particular that are handed out again and again and yet repeatedly violated in the online world, at least from where I’m sitting.
1. Use your best manners online: Maybe I’m just hyper-sensitive, but it seems like a lot of the people who are most eager to point out bad manners in others exhibit many of the same traits themselves. Have you noticed that? If you are going to critique how other people are acting online, you need to be 200% sure that you aren’t also an offender. That means straying away from snark, fights, cheap shots, and other sundry sordid activities.
2. Avoid self-promotion: Oh man. In all of the time that I studied Social Media before I jumped in, this was the #1 piece of advice. Don’t sell. Don’t over-promote yourself. If you do want to promote yourself, make sure you promote other people more. It feels like a lot of the blogs I read and tweets I see these days are nothing but self-promotion, though. So…what happened here? Did people suddenly change their mind and decide, “Oh yeah, I want to be hit by sales calls wherever I go online”? Did it suddenly become acceptable to sell sell sell? I missed the memo!
3. Always Be Transparent: I know, a lot of people have said they are deathly sick of the word transparency, and I have to say that for awhile there, transparency seemed to be the thing everyone aspired to. Nothing is to be hidden, right? The problem is that a lot of people who espouse these ideas are also the ones who use other peoples’ ideas carte blanche. I happen to know this for a fact because, well, some of *my* ideas have been used repeatedly without credit. Which is cool, but if you’re gonna do stuff like that, don’t also say that you’re a proponent of transparency. Because really….you’re not.
4. Give to get: This one really breaks my heart, because when I first started blogging and tweeting, I thought a lot of people were on board with this concept. It certainly was discussed a lot. It seems, though, that the translation of this idea has evolved a bit. Now, instead of “giving to get” over a broad range of people, individuals are giving to a select few and still receiving from a large spectrum of followers, fans, and readers. This gives the impression that you are giving, but really you are just clique building, right? To me, giving to get means spreading the wealth as much as possible, kind of like Robin Hood. Did I get that wrong?
The sad thing is that these 4 recommendations can really improve your online engagement if you live by them. If you just talk about these types of things though, if you just mouth the words, they really lose their meaning. If you talk the talk and don’t walk the walk, it can backfire on you in significant and perhaps unexpected ways down the road.
What do you think? Are you seeing this trend or am I just imagining it?
This is post #76 in the Engagement Series. Thank you for reading!
Image by Erik Hutters. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/erix