Telling others they’re doing it wrong must be the world’s oldest hobby. Bloggers have raised it to an art form, “Liked,” shared, and re-tweeted around the world a hundred times. I’m not about to quibble with Mitch Mitchell’s “9 Things People Do Wrong On Social Media” – I agree with most of them! – but I’m going to add that as #10.
Someone once said, “If a person is determined to go to Hell in a handbasket, the least you can do is help them pick out a nice handbasket.” Half the fun of blogging is trying things – you know, throwing posts and plug-ins up against the wall like spaghetti to see if they stick. Those 9 things may be Mitch’s pet peeves, but my #1 is cookie-cutter, bland, boring blogs that follow a “proven formula” for success. Half the time, I don’t think those bloggers would know what success looked like if it sneaked up and bit ’em on the behind.
For all the talk of “success” and what you must and must not do, there’s precious little talk about what “success” might look like or why most bloggers are just chasing their tails, posting posts that will never gain traction in the marketplace of ideas. Without that traction, there’s no building a sizable readership, and without a sizable readership, there’s probably just not that much happening on the business front. And if you’re chasing your tail but not much is happening, it can’t be that much fun – so there goes the last reasonable reason to be on social media in the first place. Fun.
Before you can do anything “right” on social media, you have to know why you’re there at all. A few reasons I can think of:
- All your family is there, and none of them even own a landline anymore. Half have “gone off the grid” and power their internet connection with solar panels or a tinfoil antenna hat. It’s the only way you’ll ever find out what your great-uncle Bob is up to, these days.
- Most of your friends are there. You can regale them with exciting tales of your trip to Aruba without ever having to go to Aruba – hell, you don’t even have to get dressed and leave the house. With enough imagination, originality, and storytelling prowess, you could travel around the world in 80 days – just have Amazon Prime Now deliver food to your doorstep, and you can hide out at home while being the envy of all your friends on Facebook.
- You heard that social media was a great way to make money in your sleep. Ever since being turned down for that six-month NASA sleep study, you’ve been looking for a way to supplement your meager income while (literally) dreaming of a better life.
- You have your very own products or services to sell.
- You like to write. You really just want to combine “journaling” with “exhibitionism” in a socially accepted medium.
- You’re just there for the popcorn and the peanut gallery (be sure to wash your eyes out with soap after reading the comments section of any major media outlet).
- You’re really into Candy Crush. Or Pinching Pirates. Or Slap the Nose on the Elephant. And it gives you a little passive-aggressive joy to pretend you don’t know your request for sugar-hammers, gold doubloons, peanuts, and thumbtacks is going out to all your friends who’ve threatened to unfriend anyone sending them game requests on Facebook. Because you know they’re secretly playing, too, and they’re still three levels behind you. They won’t dare unfriend you, lest you out them to all their friends who claim they’re not playing games.
- You like to write and you have a product to sell. (Shout out to all my author friends!)
- You want to tell everyone they’re doing it wrong.
If we listed all the ways people are “doing it wrong” on the Internet, we’d be here till 2028. By then, they’d have come up with a few more. “Right” is whatever works for you, but that depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. For example, if the goal is to dominate the no-niche niche and annoy Mitch, I’m crushin’ it right about now.
Pet peeves are like Tribbles: they’re trouble by the trillions. Petco doesn’t sell food for peeves, and you’ll find them slithering around the back of your closet with the moths, gnawing holes in your good wool suit. They’re hard to kill and thoroughly unlovable; you won’t find the ASPCA or PETA knocking down your door if you abandon your pet peeves along the road, and most people have enough of their own they’re not likely to fall for your peeves’ ugly mugs and take them home. They might hitch a ride on some unsuspecting stranger’s back, like a mangy monkey. If you let them breed, you’re probably stuck with them; like rabid chickens, you can drop them off in the next state, but they’ll always come home to roost. Best to starve them by crowding them out with gratitude and a spotlight on all the things you’re happy about.
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