12 Most Offensive Habits on Social Media

12 Most Offensive Habits on Social Media

Some say social media has no set rules, but it’s hardly a place where anything goes. Like cell phone use in public: most of us know we shouldn’t have a mobile device switched on at, say… a funeral (let alone use or answer it). And yet, it still happens.

Here is a very unscientific list of the dozen most obnoxious, cringe-worthy things that happen in the social media realm.

Snarky alert: strap yourselves in — the ride gets pretty bumpy from here…

1. Stealing

Students get kicked out of college for plagiarizing. Journalists get fired for doing it. Heck, even CEOs get bounced for pretending that something is theirs that ain’t. So why, oh why, is copying, lifting, misappropriating and other forms of stealing content rampant on the social web?

Some tips for doing it right: 12 Most Crucial Rules for Content Sharing

2. Curating without credit

This is actually called stealing. And yep, it’s bad. Check out “I’m as Mad as Hell and I’m Not Gonna Take This Anymore!” A Tale of Copyright Infringement by a friend who had this very thing happen last week.

3. “Borrowing”

Yep, this is stealing, too. Whether someone just “borrowed” a headline, a paragraph, an idea or a whole post…if they got the goods somewhere else, they’ve got to credit the brains behind the brilliance, for goodness sakes. Cheaters are so easily caught on the social web: ping backs, Topsy Alerts and other bloggers or followers will alert the person whose creative work was “borrowed.” And the “borrower” will very likely be shamed publicly. Not. Worth. It.

More here: Oops, You Did It Again.

4. One-way communication

No one person or brand is so important that they can truly dispense with following people back. When I see someone with tens of thousands of followers and they follow, say, less than 100 back, I pass. And many others do too. I don’t care how good they are — I don’t want it shoveled at me.

5. Forgetting your manners

“Please,” “thank you” and other forms of appreciation are not just a nice bonus in social media, they are essential to avoid appearing rude. No, it’s not necessary to show gratitude on every tweet. In fact, treacly Twitter feeds, syrupy with happy faces and thank you’s, become hard to take. But when people don’t thank others for sharing their stuff at least somewhat regularly — Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber, excepted — don’t expect the sharing to continue.

6. Ceaseless promotion

We get that people want some mileage for themselves, their company or clients through social media. Most of us do. But that doesn’t justify spewing a stream of mostly promotional tweets. It’s obnoxious. It’s boring. It’s arrogant. And it will cost followers. (The kind who weren’t bought, anyway.)

7. Sarcasm

Social media is generally not the place to be flippant or sarcastic. You risk offending people — especially if the relationship hasn’t also flourished offline. Why be on social media toting a big bag of nasty? Grumpy, mean people can spread that stuff to all of the unfortunate folks who have to deal with them in real life.

8. Spouting off about how easy social media is

Like get-rich schemes and weight-loss tales that involve dropping pounds by eating chocolate cake, people who sell a story about easy, effortless social media campaigns are doing just that: selling a story. Social media authenticity requires engagement. And engagement takes work. Period.

9. Claiming to be a social media guru, rock star or maven

Really, anyone who is calling themselves one of these three things is lying. Run, don’t walk, as far away from them as possible. They are trying to sell the modern equivalent of snake oil. And, likely, they are preaching that it’s easy (see #8). Or, that they need to “do” the social media for you for a large fee.

10. Considering social media a “task”

It’s not a task. It’s a process. It’s a conversation. It’s an outcome. And it’s a tool to use to meet goals for customer engagement and business development. Social media is not some kind of “set it and forget it” chore on a to-do list. It’s sales, business development, investor relations, media relations, donor and volunteer recruitment channels — and many other things. But it takes engagement, awareness, nimbleness and dedication.

11. Not sharing others’ material or posts

Social media karma is real. And it will smack those people who never share upside the head, hard. And they’ll deserve it.

12. Being a know-it-all

Being on the social web is nothing if not humbling. There is so much changing, so quickly, it’s impossible to know it all. Oh, some pretend to. The smart ones know when to admit what they don’t know. Not knowing is not a crime, but faking it is. Pros own up when they need a little tutorial in something social. Others will almost always oblige and help out. That’s the magic of social — as long as we admit when we need a hand.

So, how would I sum up these 12: “Don’t be a jerk!” Where have I missed the mark? What would you add? And how would you sum up the 12 most offensive habits?

Featured image courtesy of pa1nt licensed via Creative Commons.


Becky Gaylord

http://www.gaylordllc.com

Becky worked as a reporter for more than 15 years in Washington, D.C.; Sydney, Australia; and Cleveland, Ohio for major publications including the New York Times, Salon.com, Business Week, the Wall Street Journal, and was Associate Editor of the Plain Dealer's Editorial Page before she launched the consulting practice, Gaylord LLC. The company helps clients improve their external relations and communication and increase their influence and impact. Becky blogs about that (a few other things) at Framing What Works.

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70 comments
kennethcricket
kennethcricket

I feel sorry for anyone who would steal from you.

BeckyGaylord
BeckyGaylord

@amzam @MissMagner Thanks for Twarin' ; )

LeftBrainDigit
LeftBrainDigit

@PublicityGuru Great article! This should be mandatory reading when signing up for a social media account! Thanks!

thestandouters
thestandouters

@publicityguru Great article. Thanks for sending.

jnjrichardson
jnjrichardson

@PublicityGuru If I never again hear "rock star" to describe anyone other than an actual rock star (paging Mick Jagger), it'll be too soon!

OkanaganLaddie
OkanaganLaddie

@RussellVJWard @expataussieinnj #4, #6 & #11 have always been the tough hurdle for many to come to terms with in the social media circles!!!

Becky Gaylord
Becky Gaylord

Kim, you're totally right. It all depends on how well you know the person. As a general guideline, it's safest to steer clear. But not when you know the recipient will get it, and likely dish some right back! 

Kim Phillips
Kim Phillips

I wouldn't rule out sarcasm. It can be funny (if people get it). It's used just as often as a put-down, which can come across as really harsh online, where facial expression and tone of voice aren't factors; it can be like a knife. I've found that the folks who need to be carved out of the herd don't usually get the sarcasm anyway. Best saved for friends who really know your intent.

Barnfudge
Barnfudge

If social media isn't a "task", then how come one of your other "goon babble" postings is about "12 Most Crucial Social Media Tasks to Do "by  Becky Gaylord.

Kinda didn't research this on out before you copy & pasted it from another website, eh?

- Barnfudge

http://barnfudemagazine.blogspot.ca/

dbvickery
dbvickery

Wait...I CAN"T DROP POUNDS BY EATING CHOCOLATE CAKE?!? Man, I need to get my money back, I thought that snake-oil, chocolate cake mix salesman was legit!

Great points throughout, Becky. Not sharing can be an interesting topic. I definitely like the reciprocity, but you never want to be "guilting" someone into reciprocity. I also struggle sometimes with sharing sponsored posts...and I will not share politically/ideologically/theologically polarizing posts. I prefer sharing content that is educational, news-worthy or that presents both sides of a respectful debate.

fondalo
fondalo

@cornandcotton Thanx for sharing Stephanie!

fondalo
fondalo

@afairlyme TY Susan!

fondalo
fondalo

@pavelnovel Thanx man!

AmyMccTobin
AmyMccTobin

I'm with you on all of them but #7 - I can't help myself.  But only with my Soc Med "Friends."

Wingate_Sulphur
Wingate_Sulphur

@sbhsbh Good Morning Steven, thanks for the RT :) Happy Monday!!!

3li55Om
3li55Om

@Drkhenaizan ممكن اترجمهم لنا

BeckyGaylord
BeckyGaylord

@sybille_smile Thanks for sharing, Sybille!

RaimundBreitfeld
RaimundBreitfeld

Thank you very much for sharing this! Being polite should be a must.

Kalamity Kelli
Kalamity Kelli

Thank you so much for posting this.  It means a lot to me today especially.

tamcdonald
tamcdonald

@rynomite We were discussing humor on #mediachat last night. Sarcasm is often difficult to achieve on Twitter was the consensus.

wordwhacker
wordwhacker

Nice list Becky. Funny how people who are self promoters don't even realize it! About following back- some people do really nicely with following back almost everyone. But unless they keep good Twitter lists, they're going to find it hard to know what's going on in their streams. I know many people who follow back 100k, but they don't engage with them - so what is the meaning of the follow back? I prefer a engagement to a follow back.

BruceSallan
BruceSallan

Great list, Becky...for me, sarcasm is my biggest obstacle 'cause I'm naturally so very sarcastic. Same thing with anything the least bit off-color or potentially offensive. I do put my foot in it way too much! Thx for the reminders, doll...I mean Ms. Gaylord!

DixieLil
DixieLil

@BeckyGaylord Yes, I know the pain of content stolen  Had a 12most post re-formatted, edited and thrown up on G+ w/a comment at the end: "Original post at, etc.. with link"  No permission was asked, no credit given at top of post.  Infuriated me and when I called him out, the guy was surprised that I wasn't grateful that he "shared" my content to his multitude of G+ followers!

DrMichelleMazur
DrMichelleMazur

@cojourneo Thank you for the RT (being polite on social media always a good thing!)

JCAdler
JCAdler

@MENGonline Thanks for the RTs

susansilver
susansilver

I disagree somewhat with #4. I don't use follower/following ratios to determine who to follow. I look at how frequently they reply. Are they merely sending links or do they have friends that they talk to? To me that shows that if I send a tweet most likely this person will respond. 

Michelle_Mazur
Michelle_Mazur

I am so glad to know that I am NOT the only one who won't follow people who have a horrendous following to follower ratio. Why would I want to follow someone who wouldn't want to at least try to create a relationship with me? Or if I tweet to them - they won't respond. It's just bad manners. There is still etiquette to think about on the Interwebs! 

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