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Top Ten “Social Media” Pet Peeves

This is going to be a bit controversial, but whatever… It’s Independence Day, and I’m going to exercise my right to free speech.

First, a rant: I think it’s lame how social media is being used as “business media” and “commercial media”. What part of SOCIAL did you not understand? Practically every business out there has a Twitter and Facebook now, and I can honestly say I hardly ever pay attention to either. The only acceptable form of business+social would be having a Twitter feed with nothing but important updates, or for quick, semi-live tech support. SmugMug does a great job of this. But that’s about as far as I’m willing to bend the definition of social media. Oppositely, an automated system that promotes your product or service on a routine schedule is social media spam. UN-FOLLOW.

Then there’s the slightly more innocent crowd, usually freelancers, who naively double-post stuff in order to try and increase traffic. Twittering 2-3 times to “promote” your latest blog post. Re-tweeting your business posts from your personal account. (Extra negative points if you do it so fast that stuff shows up back-to-back. At least WAIT a few hours, it will help your business get more exposure anyways.)

Anyways to all of you, I say this- Hey, I know you’re still getting the hang of this social media thing, and I understand that (unfortunately) these days our businesses’ survival is highly dependent on popularity, hype and “traffic” much more than a superior product. And hey, good customer service and a superior product can be what causes popularity / hype / traffic, too. (Think of a Venn diagram…) So I’m not blaming people for giving it a shot. I just hope that things mature soon. I don’t know what the future holds for social media, all I know is that right now I’m pretty turned off by it. It’s an information overload.

That’s another thing- information overload. Social media in it’s current form is waking up the cynic in a lot of us. Sure, we follow / friend our closest, REAL friends. That’s awesome, and when they post about a new camera they worked hard to earn, we’re happy for them. But for some weird reason, we ALSO follow 1,000 other people we hardly know. For those of us who are freelance professionals many of these people are “competition”. So you might have bumped into these people at a networking event, been friendly and collected / passed out business cards, etc. But now you have 1,000 random semi-strangers twittering about how they just blew $5,000 on a new camera system or computer, while you’re still using that obsolete stuff you bought in 2006 or 2007, …you get the point. Oh and another thing is, twittering about your latest exotic “destination” booking, or even a consultation. Like I said, this information is fine between true, close friends….but when you multiply that number 10x or 100x, it changes things.

I dunno, maybe it’s just me. Maybe if I were flush with digital toys and high-end clients, I could find it in myself to be happy for 1,000 other people who achieve the same. And maybe that whole last paragraph was a little too personal and I’m just letting my inner cynic come out to play. But maybe I’m not alone. Maybe “social competition overload” is a common side effect, in fact it could be even worse among others who more strongly value and pursue industry fame. All I pursue is financial stability (or what little is possible in this day and age) …and enough free time to be with my family, friends, and hobbies. You know how much email “rockstars” get? I’ve seen email and Facebook inboxes with HUNDREDS of un-read messages. I freak out when my inbox reaches 100, period; I can’t even imagine what I’d do if there were +100 messages that I hadn’t even read.

But I digress. My point is, this whole thing is clearly in an extremely infantile stage, and I’ve decided that, at least for my introverted personality, I need to throttle back. (BTW I’m in the market for a twitter app that lets you create a feed from a handful of BFF’s. I tried Tweet Deck but hated it.)

Don’t get me wrong, “social media” has had a positive influence too. If it weren’t for the internet I’d have almost no friends. But looking back, most all of the GOOD that I benefited came quite a few years ago, before the social media craze got really strong. Remember AIM, Xanga, etc…? Heck, remember ICQ? Those were the good ‘ol days. Back when we only interacted with a few dozen people online, back when we could blog about our personal life, even social / financial hardships, without it coming back around and ruining our business or getting us fired. Nowadays I feel like the majority of our internet presence is a hollow shell or at least a high-maintenance business storefront, more for the purpose of SEO traffic and hype-generation, than for communicating with our 20 closest online friends and chronicling our actual life. I feel like if I were to say “wow I had to bust my butt extra hard to pay rent last month!” …I would be flushing my business reputation down the drain. Maybe that’s just the nature of the beast when you own a small business, but I think it’s a shame. I suppose the obvious solution is to just create a private blog in a private community. What a novel idea…

So now this top ten list is going to seem pretty tame after such a rant, but that’s fine. Some things just drive me nuts, and maybe others can relate… So here’s a list of the top 10 things that I just can’t stand about social media…


10.) Commenting “Wow that picture is awesome, what camera do you have?!”
Thankfully I don’t get this type of comment much at all, (maybe my photos aren’t awesome!) …but I know it’s still pretty common, so PLEASE heed this public service announcement: THE CAMERA IS REALLY NOT THAT IMPORTANT! If you want to sound intelligent, then ask me what lens, focal length, or aperture I used for an image. Heck I’ll even forgive you if you ask me whether I shot RAW or JPG. If you want serious help mastering your camera, or deciding which lens or body to buy, I’d love to help. The camera body you buy IS important depending on what you shoot. But PLEASE just don’t put “awesome photo” and “what camera do you have” in the same sentence.


9.) Having a “pricing” page on your website and then telling people to contact you about pricing…
Lemme ‘splennit it to ya, Lucy. If you want people to contact you about pricing, that’s called a CONTACT page. Not a pricing page. It’s cool if you want to deter or “de-program” price shoppers, but “click here for pricing, …haha made you look, no prices here, better call me up!” is borderline bait+switch… Personally, I went the opposite route- I call it my “contact” page, but I also list a couple starting prices.


8.) Emailing your entire address book whenever you blog. (Let alone, forwarding chain mail… UGH!)
This one is a little bit oldschool, but some people are still spammin’ like it’s 2001. It’s called RSS, people. Google “Google Reader”. Or heck, use Twitter to tell people when you blog. Bottom line- If I want to know what you have to say, I’ll follow you one way or another. Heck, it’s cool if you have an opt-in email feedburner thing; people can CHOOSE whether or not they want you to email them. But my inbox is so full, I probably delete your email without even looking at it, if I didn’t ASK to be emailed in the first place…


7.) Tagging ALL your friends in a random photo on Facebook, just to get them to look at it.
Okay, so you want me to check out your photo.  That’s fine.  But if I’m not in it, please don’t tag me in it.


6.) Sending a friend request without a message, when I have absolutely no idea who you are.
I’d probably love to meet you!  But if I have no idea who you are, AND ESPECIALLY if I don’t even know who our friends in common are, …then we’re not really friends. INTRODUCE YOURSELF! Everyone, please start attaching a quick one-liner message when adding friends. Please?


5.) Spelling “your” instead of “you’re” and thinking it’s acceptable.
I’m sorry, I know that grammar nazis should ALSO be on this list of internet annoyances, but a couple things about grammar just REALLY irk me. Hey, we all make spelling errors. We type fast, and as long as people can understand what you’re saying, being OCD about perfect spelling is a waste of time. But constantly saying “Your my best friend!” is like nails on a chalk board. I don’t expect you to know EVERY last obscure grammar rule, like when to correctly use “who” and “whom”, (dang I never get that) …but could you at LEAST stop saying “their” and “your” when you’re trying to say “they’re” and “you’re”?


4.) Twittering “goodnight, twitter” and nothing else…
Actually on second thought, thanks for letting the world know you’re asleep now. I hope that someone who knows where you live goes over and TP’s your house to high heaven and puts snails all over your car.


3.A) Auto-DM-ing “thanks for following me!”
It’s not personal nor impressive, if it’s automated and instantaneous. Thanks for wasting 30 seconds of my day.


3.B) Auto-Tweeting ANYTHING, or pushing / shilling business in general…
Major negative points, in my book. I already mentioned this- It’s called social media, not business media. Not “shill your product automatically every 12 hours” media…


2.) SEO-ing the crap out of your ORANGE COUNTY WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER blog.
If your Orange County Wedding Photography blog is Orange County Wedding Photographer so totally Orange County Wedding Photos optimized for SEO Orange County Weddings that I can’t Orange County Wedding Pictures even read Southern California Wedding Photography let alone enjoy Flowers by local florist the blog entry, …I’ll Learn How to Take Better Pictures in 5 minutes probably unscubscribe from your Awesome Wedding Planner blog… ;-)

I’m sorry, but “Los Angeles Wedding Photographer – Jack and Jill” is not an acceptable blog post title. On the one hand, I already know what you do for a living, and where. On the other hand, I have no idea who Jack and Jill are. Here’s an idea- why not title your blog post something like “new wedding photo from venue XYZ”? Or, use other factors such as your lighting style, the theme of the photo shoot, or just your style of photography in general. It’s SO much more descriptive, more likely to get clicked on by regular readers, and still pretty SEO-friendly…


1.) Fighting in public (especially in a professional industry)
Hey, I love a good debate.  If you can refrain from calling me names, I’ll talk Nikon VS Canon with you for an hour straight.  It’s a fun discussion!  I also love to have a cup of coffee and chat about “the state of the industry”… But the moment you close your mind and/or hide behind an anonymous screen name and start spouting misinformation or even libel, …I can’t help but wonder if you’re 14 years old. And hey if you are that’s cool, nobody is expecting you to be full of sage wisdom just yet. I’m 26 and I still say some pretty stupid things. But at least I’m ready to take back what I say if proven wrong. If you’re 34 or 45+ and you bicker anonymously in a way that makes me wonder if you’re 14, you’ve got serious maturity issues. And you get a big fat un-follow, un-subscribe, un-friend, whatever…

There are plenty of grown adults out there who act like this. Whatever their reasons, it’s pretty pathetic and childish.  Do you fanboys truly believe it matters whether you shoot Canon or Nikon, RAW or JPG, or uses a Mac / PC? (And do you think you can get them to switch brands by telling them they’re stupid for buying Canon / Nikon in the first place?) …Or do you haters actually think that you’ll create real change by being inflammatory? You say “the industry” is broken and needs a revolution, but when your actions look a lot like the public crucifixion, that’s a pretty good sign that you need to think twice. I am NOT saying your victims are saints, in fact I freely admit that the freelance photography industry could definitely use some change… But you’re jut not gonna have a positive influence on people by being negative and offensive. Usually the people who listen to a closed-minded, immature whiner are NOT in a position to incite the change you seek. They’re just closet cynics who now follow and idolize YOU instead of someone else. (Read “The Mirror Effect” by Dr. Drew from Loveline) …Congratulations, you’ve become your own little hater rockstar.

They best way to positively affect someone, or an entire industry, is by being open-minded, logical, and positive whenever possible. For now, you should probably get off your computer, go out for a walk, and take some personal photos.  Trust me- I have my own pessimistic, condescending streak, everybody does. Nikon rules, be a man and learn to shoot RAW, OSX FTW, etc. …But I only have so much emotional energy per day, and I’d rather spend it on the people I love, people who will love me back and who will be happy when I succeed, or be supportive when I’m in a rough patch. Why spend your energy on anything else? It’s just the internet.

Take care,
=Matt=

by Matthew Saville

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July 4, 2010 - 2:28 PM Bliss Goodloe - Loving these! Not only because I have some of them as my peeves too, but because I want to refrain some doing some of the others so I don't annoy people! :)

July 4, 2010 - 4:04 PM Courtney - A lot here I agree with! I always laugh when I see "What camera do you have?" because that's all it takes, folks! I personally hate when photogs don't at least post a starting package price, and I'm willing to bet potential clients are turned away, as well. And please, if you're going to be out there, make the effort to be grammatically correct :)

July 4, 2010 - 9:58 PM Sara Bliss - Thanks Matt! You totally made my day and made me laugh thinking of times I had seen the same things and they drove me nuts. In fact, my husband and I were just talking yesterday about the your, you're thing.

July 5, 2010 - 1:09 AM Matthew Saville - Hey Sara, thanks for commenting! Glad I'm not entirely alone here...

July 6, 2010 - 8:00 PM Jon Yoder - So is the title of this post a ploy to make people read it more? ;) I enjoyed the rant, and share many of the same pet peeves / concerns for the state of social media. Thanks!

July 6, 2010 - 8:23 PM Matthew Saville - Yeah Jon, I hate it when people blog tons of "top ten ways to..." just because it's got SEO value. Bah. ;-) =Matt=

July 7, 2010 - 10:24 PM William - Amen to #6!

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