Social Graces And The Micro-Blogger

Last week, a friend posted a reference on her Facebook page to  "Tweeting Too Hard" -- billed as "the place where self-important tweets get the attention they deserve." Go there, and you may recognize a few folks. Or, you may spot a few posts by a single familiar individual. It's quite the laugh:

"The people who say I'm arrogant and shallow don't see me when I'm at home with my wife. Did I mention that she's a former swimsuit model?"

"Based on the narrowness of the seat on this plane, I don't think Southwest Airlines supports people that workout their shoulders."

"I'm back! My mom-in-law passed on while we were away but I was able to work it into some of my seminars. People were moved."

Browsing this string of tweets,  I thought instantly of New York magazine's "Approval Matrix."   This playful, brutally specific grid plots culture and tastes according to where they fall on Highbrow/Lowbrow and Despicable/Brilliant hierarchies. Ad campaigns; fashion trends; cinematic debuts; trysts; quotations and stats sprinkle the grid, sometimes falling where you might expect -- sometimes not.  Your agreement with the plotting depends on your own taste. But you can feel the collective nods of social approval and disapproval, as you scan.



It's all too easy to critique one or another's style and use of social media -- and really, it's all just one big social marketing test for all of us. Still, tweets where social graces sometimes seem totally absent can make you ponder cultural standard and fine lines. 

The Role of Subjectivity in Marketing

While micro-blogging is hardly the only method in social and conversational marketing disciplines, it is one of the most prominent right now.  Because it's often implemented  by one individual, either armed with a plan or flying by the seat of his pants, personal style actually counts. People do get shunned out there.

Within marketing and media at-large, it's always been true that even as you focus on marketing principles or best practices, a single creative director's aesthetic, a client predisposition, or a teammate's subjective bias can flavor the work. And, if supremely errant or at odds with the market, this personalized factor may take the campaign offtrack.

Social and conversational marketing -- including microblogging --  are still finding their voice within the marketing mix. And the growing-up will go on for some time, as we refine through trial and error. But there is a whole new layer of subjectivity at play, above and beyond the subjective perils already possible within marketing and creative work. A lot of damage can be amassed to a brand over time; the idea of death by 1,000 cuts comes to mind.

In addition to having a plan, one's own socialization, social grace, decorum and conversational style actually matter a lot to being effective out there.

Assuming a reasonable check on one's ego -- enough to avoid the narcissistic haze reflected on "Tweeting Too Hard" -- for most of us, it's likely more a matter of remembering a few social rules of thumb. These are:

1. Watch your pronouns. Despite the personalization, there is not a lot of room for "I" in the Tweighborhood, if you are doing business.

2. Leave your hardcore at the door. If you are marketing, think not just of your marketing stance, but also of the audience. Adapt your tone and your references, so they won't glossed over as marketing speak.

3. Don't slur. Coherence matters. Tweets laden in hashtags and links with no recognizable conversational cues create a lot of social dissonance.

4. Spatting in mixed company falls flat. I often wonder about this one, when I see people duking it out in the sphere. Self-proclaimed social media celebs tend to think the rest of us care about these battles for their substance. However, they're actually damaging to one's creds and likely to undo the personal brand at hand.

Just because the platform is popular, simply using it like a madman doesn't render brand popularity. With no "Elements of Style" on microblogging in sight, it's up to us to begin with marketing principles and stay mindful of personal style all the while. Social graces have a real place in making sure the party rocks on and we all get home safe.

4 comments about "Social Graces And The Micro-Blogger ".
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  1. Jon-Mikel Bailey from Wood Street, Inc., July 20, 2009 at 1:16 p.m.

    Great tips and I love those examples. I think it is important to remember that micro-blogging is still a form of marketing and communication, so tweet appropriately!

  2. Shelly Kramer from V3 Integrated Marketing, July 20, 2009 at 2 p.m.

    Another excellent post, Kendall. People all too often barge into the social media sphere and act boorish. I liken appropriate behavior to how you would act at a cocktail party, much like you mention in your article. You would never dash up and instantly sell, or talk about yourself incessantly, or even attack someone else publicly, with or without provocation. But, for some, that behavior seems appropriate in the micro-blogging world. I'm with you - social niceties DO matter and that kind of behavior often results in the offender getting just what he or she deserves -- being tuned out. And, methinks that's a fitting punishment.

  3. Alissa Sheley from jones huyett Partners, July 20, 2009 at 2:54 p.m.

    Nice post. I think that a lot of beginners discredit the power of listening for a week or two before they jump in and start interacting. During that time, they'll be able to spot who's interacting in a beneficial way and who's just tooting their own horn.

  4. Dennis Ryan from Element 79, July 20, 2009 at 5:48 p.m.

    Really smart post and couldn't agree more about the public spatting--so off-putting.
    It is, after all, social first.

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