Being a social media consumer

My Dad despises the word ‘consumer’ but he doesn’t read my blog, so I’ll use it anyway!

I’ve talked a bit in my Tech Tuesday posts about how to utilize social media (blogs, facebook, twitter etc) but today I want to look at things from the other side – the consumer’s side.

As we travel around the Internet, visiting blogs, twittering and being twittered at (or tweeting and being tweeted at) and reading people’s updates on facebook, it occurs to me that there is very little in the way of explanation of etiquette and what may or may not be required of us.

Today’s Tech Tuesday post is aimed at giving you, the user, a little bit of perspective and understanding of how to make this whole social media thing, well, social.

There are hundreds of social media sites but I am going to limit myself to 2 sites and a concept:

Site 1:


Facebook is great but it can get a little unwieldy. Here’s some tips on how to make it better for everyone.

  1. Friend recommendations: When someone you know joins facebook and becomes your friend, use the facility that facebook gives you to recommend people they may know. It can be hard finding your friends on facebook – have a heart, make it a little easier for new users!
  2. I like this: When someone writes something, either an update, a link, or a note – click the little blue word ‘Like’ underneath it. That way other people know that it’s worth reading, because they can see that people like what was said. It has the added bonus of letting the person who wrote it know that it they did a good job.
  3. Leave Comments: Leave comments, then leave comments on other people’s comments (this is going to be a recurring theme) Facebook is about community. Community is about conversation. Conversation is about more than one person saying things. You have the opportunity to get into conversations with many people about what your friends are saying and doing and those conversations can last for days or even weeks. Communication is GOOD!
  4. Please, please, please… if you have to take surveys and post ‘five things I’d take the the bathroom’, PLEASE only do a couple a day, or even better a couple a week. I have a friend who sat down and took surveys and quizzes and things of that nature constantly for an entire weekend. I almost blocked him by the end of it, I was so annoyed at all those posts on my wall!
  5. Get online regularly: You don’t have to be on every day, but every couple of days at least.. and when you say something which causes people to ask questions, PLEASE answer their questions! Oh yes, and when you say “I’m going to the hospital, it’s an emergency, I’ll update you later…” It’s important to update us later. If you don’t then we worry that you’re dead or something!

Site 2:


OK, so people write about twitter all the time, but here’s my take on how you should use it:

  1. Replies: If someone says something and you want to reply, click on the reply button so your reply is prefixed with that person’s name – that way we all know who you’re talking to.
  2. Direct Messages: if you want to send a message to someone and don’t want the rest of the world to see it, then start your message with a D and then the person’s name, without the @ sign. For instance, if you wanted to secretly send a message to me telling how awesome I am, the you’d type: D PeterPollock Dude, you’re awesome. Reading your blog and your tweets is pretty much the only reason I breath.
  3. Retweets: If you read a tweet that you like and you think other people should read, then retweet it. There’s a little retweet button you can push or you can just type RT then the person’s name and copy and paste the text in. Don’t forget to edit the text if necessary to make it 140 characters or less if necessary. The tweet really loses something if you cut the last few words off!
  4. Retweets part 2: Twitter is about community too – retweeting someones tweet is a great encouragement to them. It helps them know they are doing something right!
  5. Keep the tweets to a minimum: Less than 100 per day please. Preferably less than 25!
  6. We don’t need to know that you’re going to the bathroom: Twitter is not there to be a running commentary on your life. It’s there for you to give pertinent and relevant updates. Telling me you’re at the Yankees game is good. Telling me you’re walking from the parking lot to the stadium, now you’re standing in line, now you’re pulling your tickets out of your pocket, now you’re holding the tickets in your hand, now you’re walking into the stadium, now you’re walking through the stadium, now you’re climbing the stairs etc etc is NOT OK!
  7. Follow Friday: For those of you who don’t know what follow Friday is, it’s an opportunity to suggest to your Twitter followers other people that they might like to get to know. I regularly see people just giving lists of names and finishing them with #followfriday, then tweeting again with another list of names and so on and so on. DON”T DO THAT! Pick one or two people and tell us why we should follow them, then finish the tweet with #followfriday. For example: These two doctors saved my life through twitter this week @DrAwesome & @DrAmazing #followfriday. (Those names are made up by the way, I wasn’t really saved by two doctors on twitter this week!)
  8. is not the only fruit: You can also use twitter via text message to your phone, or via one of the great applications such as Tweetdeck, seesmic or peoplebrwsr. is actually not the best place to tweet from. Try one of the others and see how your twitter experience changes!

And finally…

The concept:


Blogs are a great concept, here’s how to read them:

  1. Read and comment: Yes, it’s that comment thing again. Please read the post and leave a comment to say you’ve been there. If the post is really bad then click away quickly but otherwise take a moment or two to comment. That post may have taken hours to write, the least you can do is comment “Thank you for posting this.”
  2. Get involved in the conversation: Return occasionally to read the other comments that people have left and then comment on their comments. The blogging concept is one of community and conversation as much as it is journaling. Get involved, be part of the community.
  3. Link: If you read something you like, share it with your friends by sending them a link through facebook, twitter, email, your own blog or something like that. That’s part of the community aspect, sharing what we find that’s good.
  4. Use sharing sites: Use what? You say. It’s simple. You read a blog post that you like, or an article or website or whatever it may be and you think to yourself “It would be selfish of me to keep this site to myself, I’ll share it with other people like me”. You then share a link to it on one of the fabulous sharing sites. and are my favorites (I use too but I’m a little more particular about what I submit there). All of these site will let you download a toolbar for your browser so you can easily submit the pages you visit. Many blog posts even have little icons at the bottom that you can click to share them on the various sites. These sites are very underused in my experience and, to me, are an essential part of the SOCIAL aspect of social media. If I find something really great, I want to share it with others – and so I do. From my personal experience, when someone shares one of my posts on Stumbleupon, 90-100 people will visit that post in the next couple of hours through the stumbleupon system. That’s a lot of people! I find some great stuff out there on the web and I’m glad that I can share it so easily with so many people.
  5. Use blogs as a jumping board: Blog comments are great places to find new blogs to read. Read the comments and when you find someone whose comment you like, click on their name. That should jump you to their blog or website, if they have one. I have met many great people this way (and a few weird ones).

As I mentioned at the beginning, there are many, many other sites you can use. Myspace, bebo, feedfrenzy and shoutlife to name but a few… Whatever it is you do in the realm of social media, I hope that this has been a helpful guide to getting a little more out of these sites and knowing a few of the rules.

Do you have any rules you’d like to add or questions you’d like to ask? If so… please comment below πŸ™‚