Friday, March 9, 2012

Aspiring Advice: Social Media Etiquette


More now than ever, I enjoy interacting with others. I may be shy in some ways and might be the quiet one in the group, but that doesn't mean I'm not listening or paying attention. With social media, we can stay in touch longer and more often regardless of where we are in the world.

Should we act any different online than in person?

While looking into the opinions of others, be it political issues or comic books, I am astounded by the rudeness, ad nauseum, and straight up hate that is posted. Who goes up to a complete stranger on the street and talks to them like this? Thing is, most of these comments are made by aliases. This allows people the luxury to spout out their opinion in the safe confines of their homes without compromising their personal identity.

By all means, we need opinions - some are downright funny, but the rude ones, I can't take seriously.

How does this apply to us writers?

A while back I posted about Your Name Is Your Brand. Once we've established our brand, it's our job to carry it and let it be seen. Plenty have gone the route of pen names, but many writers imagine their own names on their covers. This places us in a unique situation for our time - striving for proper etiquette on and offline.
The one thing I see most often in the blogosphere is differing opinions on various writing topics and all that that implies (which I wholeheartedly embrace). The great thing about people is that we don't all agree. This leaves room for discussion. How we disagree, however, makes all the difference.

If we want to commit career suicide, we must be jerks. We must claim to have all the right answers. We must prove how great our books are to someone who gives us a negative review. We must use our blogs to rant about someone that we disagree with. We must show how omnipotent we are when we leave comments. We must expose the evils of our ex-agent/publisher to all. Etc.

(For good's sake, please don't do any of the above)

Here's how I see it: when it comes to opinion, there is no right answer. We might disagree with someone, but if it works for them, why are we bent out of shape about it? Bruised ego? Something we hold true to our heart isn't validated? Sometimes it's best to let people stick with their guns, let them believe in what works for them, or even let them make mistakes. It may not work for us, but we might find their opinion suits us better later on - and visa versa!

In short, avoid saying or doing anything that will compromise our brand. Be nice and mean it. We leave footprints with every post, tweet, and comment. It takes only one to sabotage our brand forever.

And to a further extent, us as people.

This is not the rule, just my thoughts on the matter. My stance is, as writers, we ought to be what is best for our brand (us). That means relaxing a little and not taking the offensive. We could smile and be genuine about it. If we come across as abrasive, quick to be disagreeable, or not have an open mind, will we sell any books?

Have you received comments/reviews that rubbed you the wrong way? How have you dealt with them?

I'm David, and we're going to "borrow" something ...

44 comments:

  1. I definitely agree that differing opinions is what makes life interesting. Imagine if everyone had the same opinion?? That would be so boring!

    As for online personas, well I am basically myself online. Except with less swearing! Oh yes, in reality I love to use bad words. It's a stress reliever, I guess! But I tend to avoid them (mostly) in my blog posting/commenting. (I think)

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  2. Man Alive. Ditto times a hundred. This is not the venue for bad behavior. After receiving threats from a person, I shrugged and deleted the comments.

    I have opinions about agents, this business, politics, and the produce aisle at Wal-mart but slamming others with different views is CraZy in a social network.

    I enjoy debating and who knows, maybe someone could change my opinion with a good argument. But when the party calls me names, as far as I am concerned, I won.

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  3. Good old social media etiquette.

    This is one of those things where I say "If you don't have something nice to say you can still say it in a nice way." I tweaked the adage a bit because in all honesty, you're right. People have varying opinions, thoughts and processes that bump against each other. Disagreeing isn't always a bad thing. It's the sharing of opinions, discussions of stances and breaking things down that can sometimes open a door to options a person hadn't thought possible.

    And it doesn't have to be a contest to see who can sling the most acidic comment, line the comments with vitriol. And sadly, there are those who forget that when this is done, especially online, it's done on a much larger scale than just some side comment to a friend while out at lunch.

    I enjoyed this post a great deal. Thank you.

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    1. *cheering* You said it much better than I did!!*waves*

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  4. I've seem the comments fighting between authors or agents and reviewers. While entertaining, to say the least, I choose not to participate in such discussions.

    If I receive a not so pleasant comment or review, I'll remain silent. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion and I respect that.

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  5. Well said!!! I'm amazed at some of the vile stuff people will post or comment. There are jerks out there. And if they are authors, they will struggle.
    Who I am in person is who I am online. Wouldn't know how to be anything else.

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  6. So far I have not encountered any rude or harsh comments. But I have seen a few harsh reviews that are downright vindictive. I refuse to be a part of any such offensive behaviour.

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  7. I'm definitely of the "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all" mentality. It's just not worth it to engage in an internet battle with people. And like you say, it's potentially damaging to your brand. With this in mind, I recently decided that I'd only review (recommend?) books that I love and not bother mentioning the others. This is all in an effort to not tear down others' books even in small ways. I like to think I'm the same person online as I am in real life, and in real life I am not a mean person :)

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  8. My favorite part of this post:

    "Be nice and mean it."

    :)

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    1. Just want to ditto this. Projecting a professional image is essential, but it is even more important to be sincere.

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  9. It's always refreshing to hear a voice of reason cry out from cyberspace. When it comes to my communication (online or otherwise) common decency has nothing to do with my brand; it has to do with me. And that's even more important. Wonderful post!

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  10. I'm the same online as in person, except my shyness comes out more when I'm in person. :) I can't imagine saying something mean about anyone. Whether it be online or in person. I just can't bring myself to do it. Even if I totally disagree with someone, I can't be mean. I love how you said "Be nice and mean it." Great advice and something to live by. :)

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  11. This was the worst post I've ever read. Seriously, what's wrong with you? I love it when people are rude to me and bash everything I do and say. The best part of this post was when I stopped reading.

    Okay, you know I'm kidding right? Where's the sarcastic emoticon???

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  12. Luckily I have not had any nasty comments on my blog for which I am very grateful ! As for me, I'm the same on-line, only edited :)

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  13. i try to be helpful and positive. i feel bad when anything i say is taken the wrong way. i never intend negative to anyone, but i cant help it if i am misinterpreted...i dont want to offend anyone, but some people are easily rubbed the wrong way.

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  14. So far as online demeanor vs. in person, I'm far more able to be calmly articulate and cheery in my discourse. In person, I fumble a bit more, speech wise, and can be a bit impatient and thorny. I'm a writer, not a public speaker!

    Part of being a writer, though, can be holding forth as though you know the answers. It's a form of confidence, I guess. It can be a form of survival!

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  15. Being a writer, is how you should present yourself in person AND the web. I agree that I'm astonished of the hatred that goes in people's comments and responses online. I think it's a lack of respect and tact to be honest.

    Luckily, there are people who can respect another. That's life I suppose.

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  16. I probably offend all the time! I am such a B-Word!

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  17. Life would be pretty boring if we all agreed with each other, and like you say it leaves room for discussion. Some people are just mean. I'm lucky to not have come across any of these people yet, but if I did I would just ignore them and use my energy for worthy peeps :)

    Universal Gibberish

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  18. I completely agree. I'm a big fan of the whole "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all" school. Differing opinions can easily be expressed in polite terms--so long as a person if creative enough to manage it!

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  19. Excellent post David, and so true. Meradeth summed it up nicely too. :-)

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  20. I ran into this once when one commenter hurt another commenter's feelings. Now I use comment moderation. If the comment is unkind to someone else, I don't publish it.

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  21. Great post. And so many awesome points brought to the table. I really don't have anything to add (either from being brain dead or you just covered it all) I agree with you whole-heartedly. :D

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  22. So agree we have to be careful what we say and how we say it. Never know what a comment that's rude could start. I'm lucky that I haven't really gotten a rude comment yet.

    Have a great weekend!

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  23. Great post, and I totally agree. I know of a site or two that has had its comment section taken over by trolls, which scares polite people away. I think professionalism isn't just a goal for bloggers who comment, it's also for bloggers who moderate conversations on their own site. A favorite blogger of mine actually wrote a post when her commenters started getting out of hand, saying she could take it when they were angry with her but couldn't allow them to start ripping on each other. Best of all, she made it funny.

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  24. Awesome post, David. I think where some trip up is confusing social networking with personal opinion. I've always felt that if a person is willing to use their real name in public, their brand name, they ought to know better than to besmirch it with their own words. A company does not go out of its way to take out an ad in the New York Times telling its customers how bad their product is. Then why should some bloggers do the same. But not so much using ads as much as using their words on their blog. It doesn't makes sense to me and you've posted about it in such an eloquent manner!

    BTW, love your new profile pic!

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  25. I totally agree with this post. No one needs to try and hurt anyone else, even if they do disagree. It's my policy to never post a comment that could be taken the wrong way. Thankfully no one has ever left me a bad comment.

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  26. Great post. I've had plenty of people who've disagreed with me but done so respectfully and you know what, that was fine! I'm always amazed at how quickly people turn to being unkind. It seems to be even more true when they feel like they have some sort of 'justification' for doing so. We shouldn't be rude, even when someone else has been. Thanks for the reminder!

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  27. Personally, I think your thoughts should be the rule. I can't believe how rude people can be on the internet, and it's even scarier to think they are possibly that rude in real life!

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  28. I think of some of the things I see on Facebook as well. Do you really want to be known as the author that a bunch of people unfriended because of their strongly stated political beliefs or constant need to argue with people?
    People don't all have to agree but I also don't feel that I have to tell everyone that I disagree with my feelings on the topic. Sometimes you just thank them for sharing.

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  29. Wise words, my man, wise words.

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  30. I concur! Excellent post.
    Have a great weekend, David!

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  31. With the increase in online communications it is also important to remember to keep your commitments. I think it seems more loose because it isn't face to face but if you say you are going to do something,do it. Nice post. New follower from Laura's interview.

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  32. There are lots of good things about the internet, but a lot of people (too many) seem to let loose their rude sides at any opportunity.

    Great post addressing it. :)

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  33. Yes, I agree! The old saying "Don't leave behind burning bridges!" comes to mind!

    David, I have just tagged you in a game of Lucky Se7en from the Campaign! Find out the details in my latest post!

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  34. So far no negativity. I get few comments, in fact and all are good people who leave nice comments (you know who you are!)

    One thing about Blogger you do have the option of deleting, or not allowing a comment to go live, if you so wish.

    I see that all of you are in the same frame of mind. This is a good group of writers, and I'm happy to be part of it (how's that for positive reinforcement?)

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  35. I agree completely with your view. One thing the internet has done is allow people to talk negatively to others without consequences. If you passed someone on the street and said half the things you see posted online, you would get beat down.

    I love that we can all disagree about the way things are done and most the time both parties are right. Things can get accomplished a lot of different ways and disagreement can sometimes inspire creativity.

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  36. I receive oddball comments from time to time and ignore them. I don;t leave hostile comments. If anything I just move on to something else.

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  37. Hey Dave,

    Thanks for entering my horribly bad photo caption "contest," you are a good sport:)

    Re. your post... I agree with you... there's no need for the vitriol, but people think it's easy... however, what goes around can (and will) bite you in the butt at a later date.

    And anyway, aren't we mostly all writers here... we should know better... when one is raised (such as recent launches from Jessica Therrien and Alex J. Cavanaugh) then we are all raised.)

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  38. I agree that your name is your Brand. There is whole book about this, Brand You by Tom Peters. Therefore, creating a positive online image is good netiquette because no one wants a bad name or a bad brand.

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  39. I completely agree! As writers, we definitely have to be more careful of what we say online. Agents, publishers and editors are everywhere! Great post! :)

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  40. Very wise words of advice. I wholeheartedly agree.

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