Social Networkers Need Some Table Manners!

No TrespassingAs users of social media, we’ve all been the targets of online marketers and spammers and webcam girls. Of course, social media is still fairly new, and the boundaries are continually being tried and tested, not to mention pushed. We’ve all made mistakes and, we hope, learned from them. This isn’t the first time I’ve addressed this issue (see Tweet Tweet Tweet: Will Someone Please Shoot That Effing Bird?). However, there really needs to be some form of established etiquette – because the methods being employed to get one’s message across are getting out of hand.

Now I’m not exactly a novice on this subject. In fact, I’ve even given talks about the use of social media (see Social Media For Creative Artists). Although I’m going to focus on those in the writing and book business, I’m sure we can find parallels in other fields. As everyone knows, I’m a big user of Facebook. I’ve worked very hard to establish myself on the site and build up a fan and friends base. I always try to be respectful of others and respectful of the space of others. Meaning: I do not post my “advertising” on people’s personal profiles or personal fan pages. By advertising, I mean self-promotional content.

This is the kind of thing you often see manifesting itself in sneaky posts on your wall – you know, the ones that say “nice to meet you,” but a “nice to meet you” that happens to include a very handy link to a website or the jacket of a book. Add to this the practice of tagging someone in order to get your content onto their page. Further add to this a reply tweet that uses your Twitter name to spread someone else’s message. And these are just the subtle methods.

More blatant forms of such promotional trespass consist of folk posting content designed to draw attention to themselves and their product without even attempting to disguise what they’re doing with a personal message, plastering these website links and book jackets, not to mention book trailers and book events right smack dab onto your wall like a giant neon sign. Perhaps they justify this activity by saying so-and-so is a Facebook friend (and possibly a fellow writer), so I guess that means I can be a squatter in his or her house.


I mean, it’s bad enough when this happens on your personal profile, but you won’t believe the number of times I’ve had to remove the advertising of various individuals from my fan pages. I mean, I’ll have a fan page for a book of mine (for instance In Sleeping Beauty’s Bed), and these cheeky buggers will post a book jacket and link to THEIR book on MY book’s fan page. Excuse me, but this is really taking the piss!

Now I’m all for self-promotion as everyone knows, only this is not the way to go about it. I realise things are tough out there, and I know it’s likewise tough to make a buck, but for pity’s sake, use some common sense. If you’re posting to a fan page or group page or even a personal page that indicates it accepts and welcomes these kinds of posts, then fine. But to randomly post on personal profiles, groups and fan pages that are clearly NOT an interactive billboard asking for your advertising (and you can see no evidence to indicate that it is), well, that’s just plain tacky and rude. In fact, it’s SPAM.

Of course you can always remove these posts, and I do it all the time. However, there’s only so much I’ll tolerate when it keeps continuing, especially from the same individuals. Allowing yourself to be a graffitied wall to benefit and promote someone else’s agenda is not going to make them like you. (They don’t like you – they’re using you!) Rather than outright removing said person from my friends list, I try to give them a chance to mend their ways by making my displeasure known via a polite note requesting they cease and desist. You’d think this forthright and civil approach would work and therefore generate an embarrassed apology, right? Well, think again.

A recent SPAM-fest I was made the victim of came from some supposed “book reviewer” who listed quite an impressive CV of where he’d reviewed books. I received a Facebook friend request from said person, and I thought, well sure, of course I’d like him as a friend – until I started to get daily posts on my wall of his various book reviews, none of which were even of my books! Now excuse me, but what in hell is that about? Did my Facebook profile suddenly turn into Publisher’s Weekly? Needless to say, I sent him a polite note requesting he kindly refrain from said behaviour. And get this: he actually un-friended me as if I’d done something wrong!

Awhile back I had another bizarre run-in with some Norman Bates of a poet I’d never heard of. This individual’s personal information was vague to say the least, unless you count the hazy photos of her that looked as if they’d been taken when Nixon was president. It seemed she was hiding behind some paid membership website – and she was continually posting on my Facebook profile and various fan pages advertising said website. When I asked her to stop spamming me, I got a nasty message, followed by some extremely nasty, erroneous, and downright libelous comments she attempted to publish on my website. Had they not been so pathetically inspired by professional and personal jealousy I’d have reported her to my web-host (and my lawyer).

Then just the other day an author posted her book release event on my profile wall, likewise tagging me for the event, following it up by posting her book trailer. Since when did Mitzi Szereto become Barnes & Noble? Hey, I have my own books to sell! Rather than send a message, I removed her from my friends list. I’m not going to be nice with second chances anymore, especially when I end up being disrespected for it. Yes, I’m interested in seeing what others are doing, but I’d prefer not to have it forced on me via a space which is supposed to be for my use and under my control, especially when I can easily find out what’s happening in my newsfeed and by visiting friends’ profiles and pages! I post many things, a lot of which are not self-promotion (I’m big on animal welfare groups such as StopCrush.Org and Charlie to the Rescue), so I find it annoying to get a post that’s not only irrelevant to me, but serves no purpose other than to get a free ride off my hard graft. I don’t much care for freeloaders, nor do I know anyone who does.

So if you want to mark your territory, use your OWN personal profiles and pages to get your message out rather than trespassing on those of others – or else ask permission before you post or tag as a method of self-promotion. It’s called “having good manners!” 😀

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11 Responses to “Social Networkers Need Some Table Manners!”

  1. willie watson Says:

    It’s easy to defriend.

  2. mitzi Says:

    Indeed, and I do. But they may use my fan pages as well, which means I need to ferret them out and remove them from there! Oh, the joys of social networking!

  3. mark Says:

    The golden rule works in cyber space too! Right on Mitzi! Now, please link to my book’s website…lol!

  4. mitzi Says:

    LOL! You’ve already got your weblink included here! What more do you want – blood? xx

  5. Morgan Mandel Says:

    I know exactly what you mean. I’ve been tagged by people as part of huge collages of friends, also tagged by someone when it was her photo. Then I had to go through the trouble of untagging myself and unfriending these people. What’s annoying is their tagged photos show up then on the top of my page and crowd out mine. It’s annoying to have to go through the trouble of getting rid of their photos.

    It is also irritating to get friend thank yous, that say, “You may also wish to check out my new release, etc, etc.”

    Morgan Mandel

  6. Joanna D'Angelo Says:

    Terrific post! I completely agree with you on all points – it is so annoying to me when people do that – because I never do and I wish people would be more respectful of other people’s spaces. And get with the program – if you want to promote yourself you have to engage with others – not spam them. 😉


  7. Sharon Bidwell Says:

    You go, girl! That’s telling ’em. You’ve said what so many of us are thinking. I don’t mind if I’ve known someone for some time and they ask me, but this is the main reason I have most everything I can on moderation.

  8. Dellani Oakes Says:

    Well said, Mitzi! Wonder where people lost their manners, self-respect and the respect for others? Dellani

  9. Barbara Custer Says:

    I didn’t know that you could untag someone. I must confess that I know some things, but I wouldn’t call myself computer savvy. Someone once told me that it’s okay to promote one’s wares (books, etc) on Facebook as along as I’m posting other things – in other words not to barrage people with the images.

    I don’t think people lost their self respect or manners necessarily; it may be that they don’t know better. I know someone who was posting “buy my book” sharings a lot on facebook because he thought it was the thing to do, and Facebook called him on spamming. It would be great if this sort of thing could be taught at a workshop.
    Barbara (aka Popple)

  10. Lise Leveillee Says:

    Very well written, Mitzi. I’ve had a few myself from the minute they join my friends list on FB who have done self-promoting.

    Myself I would never do that though I might on my own profile tell friends my book is soon going to be published.

    It’s sad but with the Internet being a big part of our lives now, many people have forgotten their manners. You even see it in the way they will respond to you.

  11. Brent Allard Says:

    Great post and right on the mark. I love to self promote and so via my own wall and pages, based on the idea that forcing you to look at my stuff by plastering it all over your page without your consent will not cause a reaction of kindness. However, I see people pulling this very thing all the time, and it does not make me feel kindly disposed when it’s done to me on my FB or other pages. What really gets me is that 90% of these folks are posting links for things which I cannot believe are interesting to anyone except the extremely gullible perhaps. “Make money, get this, get that.” Right, you’re clearly successful at it as your idiotic marketing campaign suggests. Whatever you’re selling, assuming I want it, I’d rather buy from someone who has a clue. Repeated warnings have so far been inneffective as these people do not read the content surrounding what they see as the home of their post. Do your homework then market. Starting a conversation with me may even get me to tell you at some point, “Post an ad, go for it.” (although likely not if it’s the same stupid stuff I’m thinking about.) But no, just post blindly in hopes that the few who don’t delete you have a friend or two who may be fooled by your all capped common spam.

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