Eight Things I'm Sick Of In Social Media

I love social media. I appreciate the way it's allowed me to stay close to family and friends, even though I live 2,200 miles from my hometown. I'm grateful for the constant flow of amusing, helpful and interesting information it provides. I am thankful for the many interesting people I've met and gotten to know via social media (including but not limited to  JeremiahSteveAnnaAmberDavidIanBenStefano, Brian and others).  I love the professional opportunities it has furnished to me, particularly my role here at Forrester. And I especially value the way social media is changing the world -- making it flatter and more transparent, challenging the ways we conduct business, elevating the importance of relationships and affinity and encouraging more listening and responsiveness.

But there are some things I'm sick of in social media. Do you share these dislikes? Any you'd care to add?

  • 8. Auto DMs: I've been down this road in past blog posts, so there's no need to revisit the topic, but the flood of self-serving, generic messages in my Twitter "inbox" gets in the way of personalized and valuable messages I receive. I hope more people will heed the results of our recent survey about Auto DMs.  
     
  • 7. Peer pressure: It's inevitable that digital social channels will suffer from the same problems as analog social channels, and peer pressure is one of those problems. It's uncomfortable to reject people who wish to connect, follow or friend; it's even worse to sever those ties once they're made. Last year I slimmed down my Facebook friends and was guilted into refriending a person who I've met only twice and have had no contact with in more than 12 months. (Of course, the fact I was guilted into refriending is more my problem than hers.) I did not participate in Jimmy Kimmel's National UnFriend Day, but I appreciate the serious sentiment underlying the humor: As Kimmel has said, friendship is sacred and Facebook can cheapen it (but only if we let it by friending hundreds of people with whom we have only passing familiarity.) 
     
  • 6. Narcissism: I've long disdained those doubters who dismiss social media as a haven for narcissists, but that doesn't mean narcissism isn't alive and well in social media. There are many different kinds of narcissists in social media: There are Snow White Narcissists who every day sing about the greatness of their lives, the brightness of their futures and their thankfulness for every sunrise, budding flower and drop of rain. There are Stuart Smalley Narcissists who obsessively announce how much others think of them by thanking every new follower or retweeter or announcing when they're added to Twitter lists. And then there are Sméagol/Gollum Narcissists whose bipolar status updates vary wildly -- one day it’s party pictures and tales of wonderful friends and places; the next day it’s how much they hate their jobs, the bus driver or their lives. By definition, all narcissists focus on themselves rather than others, which is what makes them so tiresome in social media.
     
  • 5. Check-ins: Someday, check-ins (from Facebook, foursquare, Gowalla and others) will be very valuable information that signal a person has true affinity and is an active customer of a business, but today the flood of one-off check-ins is nothing but meaningless noise in social channels. While marketers may want customers to blast messages to every friend each time they complete a purchase or visit a location, no one can possibly care when their friends are getting gas, grocery shopping or eating an ice cream cone. A single check-in is generally useless data but 20 check-ins demonstrate true affinity that one's friends may find helpful and worthwhile. The sooner Facebook and others can turn the stream of check-in data into affinity information, the better.
     
  • 4. Facebook haters: I get it: Facebook is big, has access to a lot of personal info and monetizes that data. Now get over it. We can hold Facebook responsible for ethical and legal behavior and appropriate transparency without bashing its existence and success. With Facebook accounting for one in four page views in the US and capturing more time than any other Web property (including Google, which encompasses that classic timesuck YouTube), the time has come to stop griping and start advising. Those concerned with privacy must start counseling people on how to protect themselves on Facebook rather than complaining about Facebook, and professionals in the social media or marketing field must engage on the platform adopted by 500 million users rather than hold it at arm’s length. 
     
  • 3. The search for easy social media answers: Social media is new, evolving and confusing, so it’s understandable that many people and businesses would struggle with its opportunities and challenges, but that should be no excuse for seeking easy answers. Nothing that matters to long-term success is ever easy, and there are (almost) no universal best practices that may be applied for every product in every category for every audience. Just as there is no single print strategy, television strategy or Web strategy that works in every instance, nor will there be a universal social media strategy.  From audience identification to goal setting to ROI measurement to execution, every organization’s social media strategies will be unique. By all means, learn from what competitors and others are doing, but recognize that true strategic benefits will only accrue to those who commit to differentiation through learning, experimenting and iterating.
     
  • 2. Claims of social media backlash and fatigue: I’m hearing tales of people tired of social media who are pulling back or opting out completely, but those seem to be exactly that -- tales and not fact. For every rare individual who exits from social media, dozens more enter or deepen their engagement. While some complex social behaviors are stalling in the US, Forrester data demonstrates the number of people maintaining a profile in social networks continues to grow. Before you buy into any claims that some are tiring of social media, consider two things: The first is how inherently social humans are, and the second is how much social media has evolved and will continue to change. Just as the Internet of 2010 is a very different beast than the Internet of 2000, we can expect the same sort of evolution and growth in social media in the years to come. The social tools of 2015 will be easier, more personalized, more useful and more valuable, and people will not be less social in the future than they are today. Look for engagement to increase, not diminish, as tools improve.
     
  • 1. What's the next big thing? This is one of the most common questions I’ve been asked since joining Forrester a year ago. We all love new things and want to be on the cutting edge, but focusing on some hypothetical post-Facebook and -Twitter world gets in the way of attending to the very real things that must be done today. Obviously, there will be a “next big thing” -- perhaps it will be geolocation, mobile, cloud, the semantic Web, interactive TV, augmented reality, nanotechnology, serendipitous search, or some combination thereof -- but let’s walk before we run!  It does a company no good to speculate or bet on the “next big thing” when they haven’t yet cracked the code on listening to customers, responding, engaging and fostering advocacy in today’s most popular social channels. For the vast majority of organizations and people, the next big thing IS social media and will be for years to come.

Thank you for taking the time to read my list of gripes. Did you find them interesting and correct? Or am I guilty of the same narcissism that I complain of?

Comments

Who cares about the next big

Who cares about the next big thing? It will come when it comes and it will be embraced when it is embraced.

Stop worrying about the future.

Live in the present.

Words of wisdom

great words of wisdom, Ari!

Sounds so familiar and yet...

I'm probably doing all the things that are annoying you and annoying me too... but yet. I'm check-ing, searching for easy answers (some days) , get pressure for my peers...Yes, I do all of this - But 1 thing that I don't do is Auto DMs... Thank you for your great post - It made my day ! @delphrb

We're all guilty

I, too, am guilty of some of the things on that list! We can all be our worst enemies, sometime.

Thanks for the positive feedback!

Despite the fact that I

Despite the fact that I really enjoyed this post, I am personally very tired of blog posts that are "The Top 5 Ways to..." or "10 Things which....". Why? I feel like many of them are just regurgitated content that fills space and because those types of headlines drive traffic, people produce more and more of them. I don't know how to get around this. People are lemmings (myself included) and are more likely to read/share those types of posts... but they are rarely filled with deep thinking.

1 reason I like your comment

Rachel,

You are absolutely right--using a number in the title of a blog post is blatant manipulation. Alas, it's one that works. People read those blog posts more (and, if you look at magazine covers, the same thing holds true for print.)

So, how do we combat it?

Depends on the Audience

More often then not, I tend to just not participate in titling blog posts that way. I will occasionally because, like everyone else, I know it works but I tend to believe that the people I really have a shot at influencing are people who already know me and will read my posts if the topic is interesting to them. I'm not looking to find the larger 'Cosmo' audience - most of those people don't drive worthwhile activity for me anyway.

It gets back to what I have to sell which is my expertise. To provide people with great service, we have to be well matched so... if they find my too much to absorb, I'm probably not well suited to help them at the moment. But it's a balance - you need some general exposure to enable discovery by the narrower audience you hope to influence. I think this is where editors (gasp...) play a role but I'm not sure whether we've figured out a good business model for good editors.

Rachel

Good stuff

6,4,1 are my favorite.

I think if we were all a lot more miserly about saying anything with the words - I, me, myself - in our social media banter, the social web would be a much better place.

All it does is make the stream nosier and worse, clearly expose the persons insecurities.

Noise

Augie:

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. Best post of the day, so far.

In addition to those mentioned above, I am frustrated by the level of noise, and, dare I say it, spam in the social media world. Like any channel, I suppose, there is a tendency to jump on the latest add on, gadget or interesting new way to leverage that channel. In that way, social media is no different from other channels. But it feels to me that in some ways Social Media is suffering form an overabundance of noise and spam. Just a few quick examples:

1. Broadcasting status updates across multiple platforms is particularly noisy. Do you really think your status update applies equally to your Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin followers? If so, you're probably using those platforms incorrectly.

2. Broadcasting updates related to your geo-location. I know it was cool at first, but its time this practice is stopped. Frankly, I don't care if you're at the drug store picking up cough drops. I REALLY don't. Please disable the ability for your check-ins to post to your social media channels. You're boring me to the point where my next move will be an unfollow. Frankly, Foursquare and Gowalla should consider disabling this functionality (or risk harming their brands).

3. My third issue is highly related to the two above and very specific - and its not quite to the level of concern as the other two, but it is rapidly becoming an issue for me. The more people that use paper.li and other "curation" type magazine services, the more it becomes just a new flavor of noise. Posting these updates does nothing to foster engagement. Its just another platform for you to distribute your content. I understand the need to find ways to soften the time commitment to living a full social media driven life, but these aren't it (IMHO).

4. Lastly, in my opinion, Follow Friday is broken. The initial objective of #ff was very noble and good intentioned. It was designed to help people find new and interesting people to follow and learn from. I'm afraid that it has become less and less useful because people just list a long list of their friends without any reason why those folks should be followed. I would like to see people treat #followfriday recommendations like a business referral. Give one or two recommendations with reasons WHY those people should be followed. What value are you receiving from following them? This one bugs me so much, I wrote a blog post about it a few weeks back. http://www.312digital.com/2010/11/17/3-reasons-follow-friday-is-broken/

Thanks again for the thoughful post. It made my day to know I'm not the only one who gets frustrated by these issues.

Sean McGinnis

FF broken

Sean, So true about the noise, how a lot of these automated updates and checkins just add to the clutter, but do little to spark conversation. I agree with you on #FF. I've moved mine to my blog so I can have room to explain WHY I am following and recommending people. Nice to see I'm not the only one.

great list, Sean

Thanks so much for the feedback and the additions.

I agree with you about #FF to a point. I think when people add WHY those people are recommended, it still work. And I've been tracking my new followers and have seen spikes on Fridays, so it seems #FF might be helping introduce new people.

Any additional thoughts on how to make it more worthwhile?

Ideas for improving #ff

Augie:

I love the idea behind #ff, and think with a few adjustments it would be great. I would make the following changes to make #ff work better for everyone involved:

1. Limit recommendations to 1 per post, and include a reason why you recommend your followers add that person. By limiting to one person per post, you're less likely to send out your entire friends list and focus down on people tha have added value to your life recently.

2. Mix it up week over week. Don't recommend the same person or set of people every Friday. It may endear you to your powerful friends, but it does little to enbdear you to me. And as your audience/connection you should be at least as worried about me as you are them.

3. Consider expanding beyond Twitter onto your blog. I'm interviewing my favorite people on my blog and then treating that as a "get to know my #ff recommendation" post each Friday. I have to give mad props to @ginidietrich for sparking this idea in my head. I love her blog at http://www.spinsucks.com where she has been writing a short blog post each Friday about her #ff friends. I found this incredibly valuable and decided to emulate it. While my blog is too new to really evaluate this as a method, I have every confidence this will work over the long haul for both me and the people I recommend.

4. Have a business referral mindset. I wouldn't hire a lawyer off a twitter list of 10 people without tons of further research. Why would I follow someone on twitter based off of that anemic information? This is the internet, not a phone book. If you tell me more about why you have found that person's tweets valuable, it might spark my interest.

This has been such a problem for me, that I am starting to dread Fridays. I'd hate for it to get to this point, but I'm very close to creating an unfollow policy for #ff abuse.

Sean McGinnis
http://www.312Digital.com

"It does a company no good to

"It does a company no good to speculate or bet on the “next big thing” when they haven’t yet cracked the code on listening to customers, responding, engaging and fostering advocacy in today’s most popular social channels" You could make it into a wall mounted inscription I think. or even just the first 2 "listening to customers, responding". Whichever the platform and methods to suit your business needs and budget, focusing on the above with genuine care (and a time/cost efficient commercial approach) will elevate you above you competitors and benefit to your bottom line for a long, long time. Then you can go spend time wondering what the next big thing will be. Who knows. Carpe Diem :)

What's next?

Introducing basic collaboration features like calendaring, file sharing and task management (a sort of a basic on-demand intranet for small companies) could be a prospective way of monetizing (or at least attracting more users) the social media capabilities. Mid-size, don't mention large organizations would never go for it but small companies up to 20-30 people could be considered a target audience.

Great thoughts here

Augie,

And I agree wholeheartedly with many of them. I also second some of Sean's comments above.

I especially love your point about narcissism I am continually struck by the arrogance of people who either don't know what humility and graciousness are - or who choose to overlook the importance of them. When someone compliments them, they actually think that RTing that is appropriate, instead of simply saying "thank you for your kindness." When I see that - and it happens all the time and is done by some people who are very BIG in the space, I shake my head. And think what a sad, sorry person you are. And my opinion of them is forever impacted.

I also loved Sameer's comments about "I, me, myself" etc. and wholeheartedly agree. Focusing less on our amazing selves and more on what's going on, what our friends and connections are doing, talking about, writing about, sharing, etc., is really the beauty - and the power - of social mediums.

But I disagree with people who are offended by lists, paper.li and geolocation checkins. As a marketer, these things are important to pay attention to and I think that if noise bothers you, you should learn to filter it better. No one ever said that a person must SEE every tweet that runs through the stream, and filtering is just a necessary fact of life in the social media realm.

As a marketer who deals with many clients who are new to this space, they read, enjoy and USE information contained in blog posts that are lists and other informative and tutorial style pieces. I think those of use who have been here longer than others need to stop and remember that this is a new medium, and there are new adopters on a daily basis. And that everyone starts at the beginning, and has to learn what to do and how to act. And part of the responsibility that I believe falls to those of us with more experience and knowledge is to be understanding, to help shorten the learning curve when we can, and to remember that we all started at the beginning and that we all put our pants on one leg at a time.

I don't love paper.li, but when I make time to read them, I often find tons of valuable information to use either for my clients or to learn more about, blog about and/or just discuss with my peers. If it works for others, who am I to say it's a waste of time or a bad idea?

Foursquare, et al - they are an integral part of marketing moving forward, and it behooves not only marketers but also business owners to pay attention, learn as much as we can, and figure out how to integrate mobile and geo location into our strategies in the coming months and years. Noise? Sure is. But valuable marketing information as well. And if you don't care to see it, filter.

Okay, I've ranted long enough and I'm sure you get my drift. An excellent post and it's always nice when you can enjoy the comments as much as you enjoy the original post. That's the mark of a great blogger - getting people thinking and talking. Carry on!!

Shelly
@shellykramer
http://v3im.com

Thanks for the input, Shelly

Great dialog, Shelly.

As for filtering, I think we can expect Facebook, Twitter and others to help with better relevance tools in 2011. They NEED to do this to keep engagement high and to avoid burning out users with noise--but this is also bad news for marketers. All those loyalty/check-in tweets are exactly the noise that will get filtered out. Building affinity in social media is going to take more than linking a loyalty card to Twitter, IMO.

Appreciate the input!

Lists, Papers, Popups, more

@Rachel I hear you about lists and yet like you, I enjoyed this one. There's some meat on these bones, as you can tell from the comments. Sure they make for good headlines and easy posts, but list stories like this are worth the share. MMV.

@Shelly Agree on the "Me, Me, Me" singers, but afraid that's part of it. I don't mind it once in a while, but always singing one's own praises is not for me. Like Sean I'm not big on much of the random and checkin and automated noise; but like you I do find a FEW of the paper things interesting. That all depends on the curator, the tweeter I am following setting up a good paper, right?

@Augie I too have ranted against Auto-DMs in my blog, almost all Twitter automation in general, self-promoting popup ads, more. I'll add the "Social media has killed.." or the "death of.." posts which @kimmolinkama wrote about a few weeks ago.

Going back to your points about the evolving and changing nature of social media, I think that speaks to the fatigue. It is dynamic and fast-moving, so the rules of game are fluid; makes it harder and more work to keep up. I don't think it's going anywhere, I think the tools that will catch in the future will be the ones that 1) make it even easier, more convenient as sometimes we're a lazy species ;-) 2) make it simple and fun, as we're sometimes easily entertained and 3) make it really give something back to us, worth the time and effort. For my next trick I'll solve #3, make my millions. FWIW.

Making your millions

Davina, if you solve #3 you'll deserve your millions!

Thanks for the dialog.

Rock on. I especially agree

Rock on. I especially agree with your views on Facebook. So it has issues, what doesn't? Simply put, Facebook is where the people are. To not take advantage of it is to be missing out on a giant opportunity.

Thanks, Debbie

I acttually expected more people to have criticisms of my Facebook point than any other, but you're the first to comment on it. Glad you agree!

This may fall under "Peer

This may fall under "Peer Pressure" to some degree, but I don't like the "you've got to do it" mentality for people on the different social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) There is power in being on these sites, but if you're really not social to begin with and have no plans to be online, don't clutter the landscape and get involved just because "you should be on __________".

Great addition

Jason,

Your point probably does fall under "peer pressure," but it's a great addition nonetheless. Thanks for adding to the dialog!

Social media are intrusive,

Social media are intrusive, and disruptive, but there is no point being against Facebook or twitter. The best advice is to work along those giants, and get recognition.
I implemented on my website the twitter, Facebook, and RSS feed, and it does help a lot in terms of traffic: check it out:
www.comment-economiser.fr

thanks for your advice especially on check ins, it's really helpful.

Lawrence

I've got a couple to add: 1.

I've got a couple to add:
1. social media bigots who don't deign to educate anymore because social media is so "2009". (no I don't put you in this category at all)

Seriously, I work with a lot of small and mid-sized businesses who encounter the supercilious attitude of the social media cognoscenti at every turn and are embarrassed to even ask good questions online.

2. People who say social media is new.
Social media is not new. We've been doing this for a very long time. The tools are new, the "techniques" are new, but seriously building relevant relationships isn't a new concept. Blogging, forums, chat and online conversation go back more than a few years, "social media" is just the new name for it.

Bravo Janet. I'm with you on

Bravo Janet. I'm with you on the snottiness factor.

I do disagree with you on social media not being new. While there are many people to whom this not new, there is a HUGE world of people for whom it is. And those people are typically my clients. Blogs, forums, chat rooms, IM is as alien to a whole world of people as shortwave radios and CB radios and the the like are to others.

Communicating isn't new. We've been doing that for a long time, in a myriad of different ways. But communicating online, for business and networking purposes is for many many many many people, brand, spanking new. And helping people to understand that and integrate it into their other marketing efforts effectively is often what I do for a living. Trust me, my clients feel as if all of this is very, very new. And that they need all the help and understanding they can get.

Lovely to "see" you here, my friend!

Shelly
@shellykramer

I gotta hold my ground there

I gotta hold my ground there Shelly. "New" is not the same thing as "new to me". I ran an online community for the arts in 1994, and blogged in 1995. Don't even get me started on the older forms of online discussion. None of this is new. It's just finally beginning to leak into the mainstream. That said, I do understand when people tell me it's new to them and I get the most excruciatingly basic questions when I first start working with them.

That's a great opportunity to share a little history and put it all in perspective. It's sort of grounding really to know it's not a flash in the pan but an established way of communicating that they're just now learning. Oh, and the tools have evolved to allow mainstream users where in the past it just wasn't feasible.

Glad to see you too BTW ( :

Love #2

I love #2. Thanks for adding it. In fact, that very point is part of many presentations that I give. If we stopped calling social media "new," then maybe others would stop thinking of it as something so risky that it has to be taken slowly.

Great addition!

Relevancy

At times the firehose of social data feels like we are all sharing the same email inbox.

What is the layer above the existing social software landscape that will give us the necessary relevancy and filtering of this firehose of data?

The most annoying thing for me is this needed convergence of relevancy. If I look at the social dashboard in 10 years I hope there will be a better filtering and layers on top of what we have now so that I have organization across platforms and services to be able to easily see and provide "status: what I'm doing" via any media (text, video, picture, file), "location: where I'm at" and more. So there is a clearer organization and relevancy to the data in what I provide and how people can follow and interact.

I do see Facebook and others starting to try and solve this as well as other services but still seems so far removed and infant from where we should be.

And screw the iPad, I want a Wall-E. When will that be available??? ;)

Wall-E

You want a garbage scooping and compacting robot? :)

I expect we will see improved relevancy tools from LinkedIn (Signal), Twitter, Facebook and Google in 2011. I don't think it will take 10 years to get to better filtering tools in social media!

Regarding Automatic Social Media

I recently wrote about the "evils" of automatic DMs on my own blog (though I won't spam you with a link). I run into them a lot at my "day job" and they drive me absolutely bonkers. Automating anything in social media is dangerous territory, because you quickly strip it of its value. Pretty soon you become just one of a horde of people automatically posting messages back and forth which none of you read. I recognize how important regular updates are in the online social world, but I'd rather post less often with more value than constantly blathering more noise into the void.

As a side note, I also totally agree with you about check-in noise. I like your idea of posting affiliation information, rather than every single check-in. Wonder if anyone will pick that up?

Anyway, thank you for the list. Maybe if auto-DMs and the like are decried often enough, they will eventually fade away.

Sharing a relevant link is never spam!

Roxanne,

Please feel free to share your blog link here. I never consider relevant links and info to be spam!

As a way to combat the auto DMs, I've been responding back with a DM of my own:

Pls stop sending auto DMs. They are unwelcome, decrease followers & increase spam reports. Survey: http://ow.ly/3hvTO

I've gotten some interesting replies. No one's been angry. Some have claimed their DM was not auto (even though it appeared to be so, which is a different conversation.) And two people have thanked me and said they'll stop sending them!

Whew!

A whirlwind tour of those small frustrations that make social media like any other industry or professional space, imperfect.

The one I may be partially, though by no means fully guilty of, is Facebook hating. I think a platform of this popularity should have scaled a lot better than it has, in terms of UI, things like opting-out, and yes, privacy concerns. I also haven't seen a place for it in my personal life. At the same time, as a social media professional, to ignore or keep it at arms length would be a dereliction of duty. I go where the people are.

Cheers

I agree about constant

I agree about constant check-ins, they become clutter in the stream. However, there are some good ways to use Foursquare/Gowalla/etc along with social media. You can choose which check-ins go to Twitter and Facebook, I disable most but do cross-post check-ins when I'm either meeting a lot of people from those sites or want people to join me. As a musician who also plans other events, this can be a very handy last-minute reminder for attendees and I have often found myself deciding to go to an event I was considering blowing off just because a certain contact has checked in, making it worth my effort.

I do complain about Facebook, mostly due to the new habit people have of sending timely information or invitations only to it, which I tend to get well after they are sent, often after the event they are for. If something is silly, sure, post it on Facebook. If you want a response right away there are far better ways to reach me. Most of all, please don't send me anything via Facebook that you wouldn't want the whole word to read and realize that some of us check the site rarely. It's best not to assume people will catch every post or message so anything critical should still be conveyed via phone or email. It's an adjunct tool, not a total replacement. Even with a relatively low number of Facebook friends my stream just moves too fast, I would get nothing done if I tried to catch it all!

There are just too many places to check for information today and another big problem with posting events only to Facebook is a lot of people actually aren't on it, despite the big numbers it gets. Socially, most of my friends do not use it and I respect that. Even worse, a lot of companies are posting invitations non-publicly, so there is no way to see the event details without joining Facebook. This is a great way to turn off potential guests and, therefore, potential clients. Put it on your own website, into local event calendars, whatever works for you and can be seen by anyone interested.

I thoroughly agree with the person who said Follow Friday is broken. It's pointless to list everyone you follow, I assume you think everyone you're following is worth it to you, but what I need to know is why they should be worth following to me. I do about 2-4 recommendations a month at most, usually each with their own tweet about why. Without that I completely tune out each Follow Friday tweet, much like listening to an uncle tell the same story for the 400th time. Recommending the same people every Friday makes the whole exercise even more of a joke. There are certain people I've come close to unfollowing over the whole practice and there are weeks I don't even bother checking Twitter on a Friday.

That defeats the whole purpose, doesn't it?

Overwhelmed with data and too little relevant information

Great post Augie - thanks.

I can't help agreeing with many of the comments above. I don't know about you but there are days when the volume of data flowing through the social channels + email is simply overwhelming. It all takes up precious time and is increasingly distracting. My Twitter feed is bulked out by links but very few are relevant, and even fewer give enough info to figure out if I should even check the link. I guess it’s time to do some serious Twitter house cleaning – but that too takes time. Thankfully I trimmed down my Facebook friends to people I consider friends and removed all the corporate feeds so now it has more relevance. But to me the ultimate goal is to have a relevance filter that is self-learning; a filter that pushes things to the top that are likely to be of interest to me today, based on what I'm working on or engaged in, and the people I regularly engage with (plus a select group of close friends and family). I guess Google is on the path to this with Gmail but we need it to work across all forms of media. Whoever manages to filter the overwhelming amount of data in our social feeds and turn it into information will make a fortune. After all, time is the most precious resource of all - whoever figures out how to make social technologies more time efficient will have a huge customer base.

And I find auto DM’s intrusive too – any auto DM with a link is an automatic unfollow in my book!

Cutting through clutter

Thanks to everyone who commented here. A common theme is that social media is getting cluttered, and I agree. (Nate Elliott, my peer at Forrester, has a report on the clutter of social media: http://blogs.forrester.com/nate_elliott/10-10-05-identifying_and_defeati...).

First of all, tools will improve. Twitter, Facebook and others know that keeping engagement high is essential for growth and financial health. Look for improvements in filtering tools in 2011.

Of course, if you struggle with clutter today, there are some things that can help (other than unfriending or unfollowing people.) Twitter lists are a very powerful tool (particularly when combined with a Twitter aggregator such as Hootsuite or Tweetdeck.)

I'd also recommend sites like paper.li (without all those annoying auto-posts ever day) and my personal favorite, http://TwitterTim.es. Both do a great job of pulling out the most relevant and interesting content from your Twitter stream. (LinkedIn also has a new tool coming in 2011 called Signal that helps to filter the most relevant news and information from Twitter and LinkedIn streams.)

Hope that helps. And thanks again for the terrific dialog in the comments of this blog post!

BLOCK Automated DMers

PLEASE OH PLEASE EVERYONE! Block and report the folks who use automated DMs or @replies. These people are spammers! Report them as such to get them off the service.

Stop Auto DMs

Thanks, Maria. No question about it--people hate them!

Rather than unfollowing and blocking, I'm taking a new approach to Auto DMs. I respond back with the following:

Pls stop sending auto DMs. They are unwelcome, decrease followers & increase spam reports. Survey: http://bit.ly/StopAutoDMs

I expected angry responses, but so far I've gotten nothing but thanks. Okay, most people ignore my DM, but the people who do respond seem appreciative of the advice and link!

So many good comments, had to come back

@Sean like the FF fixes. I get how people use it en masse, but just not my style. I do something similar to Gini, usually limit it to five and blog about it. One challenge I have that is a challenge, finding a worthy follow outside PR and social media, some really different people.

@Janet The new vs. old debate go on for sure, but I lean towards “it’s a new, umbrella term for ...” and just move on. I remember the AOL chat rooms, still visit variety of on message boards and forums on occasion mostly, for fun or tech fixes like the Apple discussions. I am “new” to these networking tools for business, for marketing, for PR but I am not sure how much it matters. It’s changing all the time and I’m learning it quickly, shaping my approach as I go.

@CraftLess You’ve hit on my issues with Facebook: not everyone uses it the same way. I don’t use it for business, for marketing or networking; it’s my personal, fun space that I rarely visit. Even things like LinkedIn and Twitter are adjunct tools, which is why you can’t limit yourself to one platform or just social media.

@Nigel @Maria Like you I hate the auto-DMs, links to e-crap. Waste.

@Augie I think you’re right.. the technology and tools that will stick around in the future will be the ones that help us filter the clutter, get more back while spending less time with the tools. I know I need to update my Tweetdeck and know I won’t always catch it all, yet I’m still impressed by how much good stuff is out there. I wish I had the time for all the good blogs, articles and Tweets. That’s the real tool, the Time Saver app.. another $$$ idea. ;-)

Again, thanks Davina

Davina,

Thanks for the continued dialog. Interesting observations on all the comments thus far!

Death, Vagueness, and Hyperbole

related to your #2 and #3 -- especially in the form of " is dead" as in "blog comments are dead". (this blog post proves otherwise.) or any of the new X is dead memes. I get annoyed when someone equates "I'm too bored to talk about X" with therefore "X is dead".

Also annoying, the use of vague categorical terms when speaking of something very specific and differentiated (e.g. "Social Medial" means... sales?, marketing?, entertainment?, news? public sentiment analysis?, sharing posts on Facebook?, using YouTube for Education?, and many very different things etc.). Related: the use of the wrong terms that take buzzwords and use them to mean old things: e.g. Cloud Computing = putting up a website that does something. Buzzword bingo.

And then the revolutionary way that we'll ALL be using some new social way of travel, shopping, listening to music, etc. All of us? maybe we forget that millions of people out there still have VCRs (and they still flash 12:00). instead of all, I want to know "who" the masses, the tech-elite? high-school dropouts? and "why now?"

What I love about Social Media -- that it's socially acceptable to complain about it a lot.

Socially acceptable to complain about social media a lot

Your comment made me laugh. I agree with your thoughts. There's too much "... is dead" out there.

And your comment about "the masses" is interesting. Marketers are used to "mass" media, so there is a focus on what is or is not mass in social media. It's important to focus on a specific marketing and objective, because "mass" may mean different things. Despite that, it's safe to say (for example) that Facebook is mass and Foursquare is not (yet).

Thanks for the comments!

Auto-DMs: Social Media Spam

Augie,
Great list. I completely agree with you re: auto DMs. A DM is a valuable opportunity to communicate with someone who has chosen to follow you about something important. More likely than not, auto-DMs lead me to auto-unfollow.

Kasey

Narcissists and Comments (or lack there of)

Thank you Augie for a well thought out post.

You made a great list, but one thing I would add as my pet peeve with social media...there are too many bloggers and not enough people commenting and taking part in a conversation. Many times I think the reason people feel there is a narcissist problem in social media is because more people are looking to start blogs than there are making comments on other established blogs.

This same mentality comes to Twitter in the form of people who post where they went and what they ate for lunch, but they never take the time to comment on tweets from people they follow.

But I think the worst offenders are the "social media experts" that tweet non-stop about how the social web is about taking part in conversations, but if you respond to their tweet, they don't interact.

These are the early days of social media as you say...and there is still a lot to be learned. I too think it is a revolution that will continue to expand and evolve. So my hope is that soon, people spend less time talking about themselves and their theories and instead will stop to read and ponder what someone else said...and use that as an opportunity to share and communicate.

The worst offenders are the "social media experts"

I happen to represent that comment! :)

You offer some insightful thoughts, and I'm the first to admit I'm too much a broadcaster and not enough of an engager. Time is tight and I tend to put my focus on my Twitter interactions and blog rather than in visiting others.

I'll take your input to heart and try to carve out more time to take part in the conversations!

Thanks for the input.

You are not alone

I'm glad you took that the right way. It was, of course, not directed towards you...as I just found your blog the other day. It actually has grown out of frustration from general tendencies I have seen on the social web.

I actually found you because I was trying to take my own advice and seek out voices to read and get to know...and maybe interact.

I'll be adding you to my Google Reader and will look forward to interacting more in the future.

PS - Would love it if you added Discus or LiveFyre commenting systems to your site so I could sign in with my Facebook or Twitter account.

Thanks

No worried--I didn't perceive it was directed at me at all. I just felt guilty reading it!

Great suggestions for the blog. I'll pass them along. Thanks!

Peer Pressure & B2B?

Great points. And really interesting comment on peer pressure. If my goal with my social media presence was to connect with friends and family then there are probably alot of people I should unfriend. But when you use social media in a B2B marketing arena -- isn't more better? Or is the suggestion that Facebook shouldn't be a tool in B2B social marketing?

Facebook is for intimate relationships

I've done some blog posts in the past about how Facebook views itself as a place for your real-world personal relationships. (For example, check out: http://blogs.forrester.com/augie_ray/10-10-31-facebook_is_for_real_frien...). Of course, that doesn't mean you cannot use Facebook for something other than its intended, but that does mean you're running some risks when using it for B2B marketing. Do you want your business contacts to see your son's and daughter's picture? Or to see the comments posted by your neice to your wall? Or to know when you check into MacDonalds?

Me feeling is that there are better venues for B2B marketing (such as LinkedIn, industry forums, private communities, Twitter, etc.) I'm not suggesting there is NO good B2B marketing on Facebook, just that with each new product Facebook offers (such as messaging, places, groups, etc.) it becomes more apparent the platform is intended for intimate personal relationships and now more distant professional ones.

Thanks!

Thanks for the link to the earlier post. I've struggled with Facebook for these reasons. Very helpful.

Dbags

I have not (luckily) run into too many of the folks you're mentioning. I had a run in about 18 months ago with two people who came to my blog to crticize me for discussing social media strategy when I "only" had 2,000 followers. They, of course, had almost nothing helpful or insightful to say on Twitter but had amassed 10,000 followers using some automated application. It got under my skin for about 8 seconds, but in the end those sorts of folks get discovered pretty quickly, I think. Business value isn't driven by someone who clicks a button but by someone who provides analysis and solutions--and that take can't be faked!