This is a guest post by Anne Chaconas
I'm pretty active on various social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Google+ and GoodReads (although Facebook and Pinterest definitely have the lion's share of my attention.) As part of this activity, I have befriended a number of authors on Facebook and “liked” a large number of author pages. For the most part, these new friends and acquaintances have been great. I've cyber-met a lot of awesome folks and have been privy to many interesting blog posts, pictures and books that I would very likely not have known about otherwise.
And then there was this one guy. That guy.
Oh, you know who I'm talking about. Your version of that guy might not be the same as my version of that guy, but we all know the type because we all, unfortunately, probably have at least one of these individuals on our various lists: That one person who never says anything, never comments on anything, never sets fingers to keyboard unless it's to relentlessly self-promote. And that guy‘s not a quiet, occasional presence, either (is he ever?).
“The cover of my book is truly spectacular–and the content is even better!” he'll exclaim at 12:45pm.
“My background qualifies me as an expert in my field,” he'll puff at 1:13pm, “which is why my book has positively affected so many people.”
“Check out this 5-star review on my book,” he'll say at 1:30pm.
“Have you purchased my book?” he'll ask at 1:52pm.
“This book will change your life,” he'll muse at 2:17pm, thoughtfully providing us with the link to his book's Amazon page.
It's time to get the hell outta Dodge, I'll think at 2:18pm, as I hustle on over to his Facebook page and click “unlike.” Ah, bliss. Suddenly, my feed is quieter. Cleaner. I no longer feel the need to punch something small and defenseless.
Honestly, I'm almost a little shocked that this guy has followers at all. Maybe he just has a really big family. Then again, the ability to uncheck the “Show in News Feed” option on a page is a very handy Facebook feature. I just didn't go that route since I didn't want to give him the satisfaction of having my “like” when I very decidedly didn't “like” him.
Social networking, guys and gals, is a science and an art. Not even Twitter with its 140-character “What are you doing? Is it mundane? We don't care! Tell us anyway!” vibe lends itself to this kind of unrelenting banging of the self-promotion hammer. No one is that awesome. And, certainly, no one wants to hear you talk, on loop, about how awesome you think you are.
I wish I knew this person well enough to take him by the virtual hand and make him see how he's actually hurting his brand. He's making himself odious. He's that kid at the front of the class who's always raising his hand to answer the question–except he's not even giving the right answer.
There are a few things that, I believe, everyone should keep in mind when they're interacting with others, whether online, offline, informally, or professionally:
1. Care about others. Sure, it's nice to have others care about you, but it's also nice to return the favor–and return it sincerely. If you put love out there, you'll get love back. Put nothing but promotional squawking, and all you'll get in return is meaningless white noise.
2. Make bonds. You don't have to become besties with everyone you meet online. But take the time to get to know a few people, learn some of their idiosyncrasies, and create a little tribe of like-minded folk. Social networking is a lot more fun when it's, you know, social.
3. Reply with thoughtful answers. Not everything has to tie back to you and your work. Sometimes, just listening to what someone has to say, or reading what someone has taken the time to type, and replying with a comment that indicates that you've given it more thought than simply “How can I make a buck out of this?” is all you need.
4. Don't make it all about you. It's not. In fact, it almost never is. At its core, life is about the relationships we have with others.
5. Add value by your presence. The more thoughtless, self-centered and self-serving your answers, the more devalued they become. The less value something has, the easier it is to ignore. Eventually, you'll just blend into the background, an annoying fruit fly that you only notice when you swat at it.
6. Shut up and listen. You might learn something when you stop being enamored with the sound of your own voice or the look of your own words. And, please, for the love of all that is good and holy, don't quote yourself.
Do I sound bitter? I'm not. Do I sound angry? Well, I was–a little. This guy took the time to go around liking and commenting on people's pages but didn't do it for the community experience at all. He only did it to see how quickly he could sell more books. And that, my friends, is no way to sell at all.
But at least he did remind me of what's important when relating to others: It's getting them to buy whatever it is I'm selling. Right?
About this post’s author:
Anne Chaconas was born in Central America and educated in the U.S. Northeast. She moved to the Deep South for love and currently lives on the East Coast (and misses winter terribly.) Her snarky husband, adorable daughter, three rambunctious cats, and two very adoring dogs keep her busy. Salve Regina, her debut novel, will be available this fall. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, GoodReads and Tumblr.