Yeah, yeah. Social media is a godsend. It's the best thing. You gotta be on it, right? Well, sort of. If you're just annoying others or being transparently manipulative and desperate, you're wasting your time and everyone else's blips of time. You might sleep slightly better at night thinking you're "making a real impact" on Facebook or LinkedIn or Twitter, but social media isn't about gut feelings. Its success or failures can be measured in clear-cut metrics.
The New York Times has a list of six ways you're probably doing exactly that on social media, and part of why I love this list is because it starts off explaining how most people are misusing HARO. HARO stands for "help a reporter out," and it's not the reporters who are misusing it, its' the people responding to the reporter's requests.
Basically, folks like me can use it to solicit comments, information or find sources for stories. It's pretty cool.
What's not cool is when entrepreneurs, publicists or whomever answer it to shove their own agenda down writer's throats. To prove I'm not a cranky guy who's inventing this phenomenon, here's what the NY Times says:
"Do your homework on the kinds of stories a blogger or reporter covers. If you send a pitch and are told that you’ve got the wrong person, please take note for future pitches. And if you send a pitch and are told that the reporter just isn’t interested, don’t send a second e-mail pleading your case."
Thank you. So much. Really. If you're using social media to "plead your case" to writers, you're communicating a few things about your business:
1. You're in the dark about how to secure coverage.
2. I said it before, but you're desperate, too, which is even worse.
Neither of these things convey confidence in your brand or that anyone else should be interested. And with social media, if we don't like what you're broadcasting, we don't even need to spin the dial to hear something else. It comes to us.
The NY Times also explores the flimsiness of people flat-out asking strangers for recommendations on LinkedIn, with the asterisk that they'll write a recommendation in return.
This is a total waste of time for many obvious reasons. The biggest is that it's a weak connection being forged. And it's also completely transparent. And it happens more often than you think, and it's reasons like these and many more that are why I employ one very simple rule for social media: I don't want to connect with you unless I know who you are.
Yeah, very strict. I know.
Anyway. Read over the full list of these astonishing real-life things people cluelessly attempt to get noticed on social media.
David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as an interviewer-writer for Adult Swim, he's also a comedy-writing instructor for Second City. He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. When not playing video games for work he's thinking of dashing out to Chicago Diner, Pizano's, or Yummy Yummy. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.