*disclaimer* – Strongish language. Not for children or the easily-offended.
*disclaimer* – At the risk of being called sexist, the feminine term for "douchebag" is "douchebaguette." Apply as necessary.
Unless you've been living under a rock, you already know that social media is an important tool that can help your small business grow. However, what's worse than not using social media is being that person/business who is annoying everyone with spam, inappropriate comments, or just useless tripe. These five jerks are exactly how not to do social media — they shouldn't be your role models.
So who are the worst online douchebags?
1) Mr. Inane Banter/Name Dropper
Usually found on Twitter/Facebook — but increasingly found on LinkedIn as people push their status updates and link them all together (not always the best idea). He is often prone to using elementary school text-isms such as LOL and WTF.
News flash: no one cares what you had for lunch. Or "Happy Friday everyone." Or that you love your new exercise balance board. Or even that you have an important meeting with Mr. XÂ – unless it's contextual. (These were all real updates pulled from my feed today.)
Alternative: You can get away with this if you are hilarious or actually have something interesting to share. Example: "Great business meeting with Richard Branson. Strangely, he emanates an odor of raw cabbage."
2) Ms. Retweet/Flooder
No added content or commentary. She just sits there relaying other people's finds and articles all day long. While not particularly harmful, she doesn't exactly set herself apart as anything other than a lemming, much less a thought leader. One variation of this is the keyword bot (a favorite tool of scummy affiliate marketers), which automatically retweets anything mentioning a designated group of words. Automation is a powerful tool, not to be used carelessly. Don't be an automaton.
Alternative: Express your independent opinion when sharing! Why is it a good/bad article? Why should other people read it? Example: "This will make you weep, laugh, then weep again. RT @theoatmeal http://theoatmeal.com/comics/shopping_cart"
3) Mr. Foursquare
Everyone knows him, but that's not necessarily a good thing. He's the “Mayor” of 7-11, the local pub, Abercrombie + Fitch, the library, even that public washroom that never has soap.
Seriously – mayor? How pompous is that? Unless you actually spend countless hours fundraising, working the phones, and mobilizing your electoral base, ease up with the titles and the check-ins. There's no value here and you’re only diluting your credibility as a serious brand (or personality or whatever it is you call yourself).
Alternative: Get a life.
4) Captain Cryptic
This person tries so hard to shorten their words that they lose all meaning – or they sound like an 11-year old girl. They are also big fans of appending #hashtags to everything, in the hopes that some random searcher out there among the vast interwebz will stumble across them and rejoice in the glory that is their Tweet.
Example: "Hey U ppl: Does ne1 have a connection to a hi $$ CEO in the tech sector I can intrvw? Need 3+ srces for a story #tech #webmedia #FB"
If you're going to push content like this, you might as well make "K THX BAI" your permanent email signature.
Alternative: Use a free solution such as Twitlonger — which allows you to easily express your statement in full.
As in, Me Me Me Me Me. I tag or mention YOU in all of MY Facebook posts, photos, status updates, promotions, and irrelevant Twitter updates in the hopes that you will see how interesting and amazing my life/business/products are. Maybe someone has a Google Alert, or a keen interest in you, sees that you are tagged – and then click through to my page! I also tend to have private conversations that are meaningless to other people in public, clogging their feeds with worthless nonsense. Don't be me.
Alternative: Consider what you can do for others.
All in all, you can avoid becoming an intrusive and aggravating online personality very easily: simply minimize annoyance and provide value. If it is something you wouldn't care to hear from someone else, do not share it on Twitter or Facebook. It's the old G.I.G.O. rule (Garbage In Garbage Out) — junk begets more junk, so let's try and keep our feeds clean, interesting and worthwhile to read.
Who are some of the biggest douchebags you know in social media? (Real names excluded of course!)
Patrick Lok is Town Crier at CityMax.com, an easy website builder company that has helped 572,000+ small businesses owners grow online. Read more about Patrick here.