One of the more common topics out in the Blogosphere and in the world of Social Media can be summed up in one word – favors. On the one hand you have people who are asking for favors and rationalizing why they should be allowed to ask for favors. On the other side are people who feel like they are asked constantly for favors with no respect or civility.
From where I sit, everybody involved in this argument makes some good points, but I think frustration clouds over better judgment in these kinds of scenarios, so often we see posts or tweets that go a little beyond, “Here’s what I think.” I thought I would take a stab at kind of presenting both sides of the argument here in a pretty rational way, and then you can see if that helps you sort this issue out a bit.
You are asking people to ask you for favors
Here is a sad reality for those of you who feel like you are perpetually inundated with favor-askers.
You’re asking for it.
Now before you shake your head vigorously and deny this, let me tell you that I have solid evidence that this is true. See, one day, I was lucky enough to get a post published on a pretty well-known site. Not five minutes after the post went live, I got a direct message from someone asking me if I could tweet out their post. A bit later in the day, another person asked if we could talk on the phone about their blog in general. This taught me an important lesson. When you go out there in the online world offering advice at no charge, and you start becoming successful at it, people will increase the times they ask you for advice and/or help.
You know this, but you may have forgotten due to the volume of favor requests you’re getting.
The truth may be bitter to swallow, but you need to remember these things:
• If you are posting advice on your site for free, there is no reason why people should feel hesitant about asking you for more advice for free
• If you are openly doing a lot of favors for people, like tweeting out their posts, there is no reason why other people should feel hesitant about asking you to do the same for them
• If your site says something like, “How can I help you?” people will answer that question.
I’m not saying this is right or wrong, good or bad. I’m just saying this is the nature of the beast we’ve created in the online world. People don’t know the different pricing structures you have in your head. They don’t really know that offering this type of advice is much more time-consuming than offering that type of advice. They don’t know that you tweeted out that person’s post because you know that person is going through a hard time and needs a bit of a lift. They don’t know unless you tell them.
And by telling them, I don’t mean writing a post about how much people suck.
You favor-askers aren’t off the hook, though
I get a fair amount of asks during the course of a work week. Sometimes folks will send me a DM asking me to “look at” their post. Sometimes someone will CC me as they tweet out their post. Sometimes someone will ask if I can take a look at their site or at their this or that to offer my advice. Sometimes people just plain ask me for my advice or thoughts on things.
I figured out pretty quickly in my Social Media career that these are all compliments. If people don’t perceive that you’re doing well, they’re not going to want to associate their work with you. However, there are some things favor-askers have done with me, and I’m sure to others, that really need to stop. For example:
• If you barely talk to me and only send me DMs about your posts, that’s going to start wearing on me a bit. At least pretend that we’re friends before you ask me for a favor a day!
• When I do a favor for you, say thank you. I’m happy to help you out but I’ll be happier to repeat my action if you indicate some level of appreciation.
• Don’t be passive aggressive. Be honest. You don’t want me to “look” at your post, you want me to promote it for you. In fact, I would almost prefer if you would say, “Please leave a comment on this post” or “Please tweet this out for me if you like it” so that I know what you are really looking for. If you really want me to just look at your post, please disregard 🙂
• When I do a favor for you, take a little break before asking for the next one. There have been a couple of times where someone has asked me a favor, I’ve done it, and I’ve sent them a message saying, “OK, done.” Their response was something like, “Great! Now can you do this?” That is a sure way to tick people off.
• Make sure you return the favor. It doesn’t have to be robotic and it should be genuine, but if you are asking someone for a lot of favors, you want to try to make sure you are doing favors for them. If you can’t find a reason to help them out, you should probably not ask them to do anything for you.
I think there is a lot of misunderstanding and miscommunication when it comes to online favors. I think on both sides, resentment builds up slowly but surely, and then one lucky person bears the brunt of all of that anger via a tweet or a post (something along the lines of “I’m calling BS on…”).
Try to make sure you are respectful of each other. That’s really all it comes down to. Respect, thought, civility, and some basic manners.
This is post #73 in The Engagement Series. Thank you for reading!
image Credit: http://www.sxc.hu/profile/pidsmannen