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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Is Your Friend Out of Control?
Stage a Twittervention

Posted By on Thu, May 26, 2011 at 9:00 AM


Dear Anna,

I have a friend who, after recently taking a job as a digital marketer, has deigned himself to be the end-all, be-all source of tech and advertising news on Twitter. My friends and I, who have significantly more experience in digital marketing, find ourselves inundated by inflated, pseudo-jargony, swagger-laden tweets about the latest marketing trends a week after they happen, usually with a link to a Gawker article splicing a trillion different articles together. We'd simply unfollow him, but he's our friend and we know for a fact he's making himself look like a fool in the public arena that is Twitter. How do we tell him to stop sounding like such a douche and get him on the right track?

~I Hate My Friends

It seems that the only criteria to label oneself a social media expert (or guru or webtrepreneur) is to have an Internet connection and be born after 1980. It's easy to Mean Girl these people -- I admit I often recoil when I see descriptors like "ninja" in someone's Twitter bio -- but that will do decidedly little to change anyone's bad habits. The easiest, and most passive-aggressive solution, is to hide your friend's tweets. This option exists in most applications for Twitter. In TweetDeck, you can do it by going to the Settings menu and choosing Global Filter, then type in the name of the person who you want to STFU. You can also hide tweets containing certain words, like "ninja" or "brand evangelist," or from certain sources such as Facebook.

That said, most common-sense etiquette works with our real life relationships and interactions as well as on the Internet, whether it's confronting your boss, or kindly telling your Aunt to stop spamming you. Here are a few tips for helping you constructively Twittercise, rather than simply ranting or ignoring them entirely.

I'm Okay, You're Okay

Not to sound like a free clinic pamphlet, but as with all criticism, it helps to lead with the positive. There has to be something redeeming about your friend's stream. Maybe he's a baller at live-tweeting Food Network shows, or his delightful links to dancing meerkats make you forget the vague dissatisfaction of your life for three minutes. Whatever his strengths may be, emphasize them first, and of course, be sincere.

Be Fact-full and Tactful 

When it comes to social media, which for all intents and purposes is a new concept that is always evolving, it's easy to mistake opinion with fact. Avoid personal slights or attacks about the websites he uses to find and share information. Use stats when possible if you want to make a point about respected and respectable resources, as opposed to merely what you personally prefer.

Pay It Forward

And I don't mean Re-tweeting. Share the tools and tips you've learned in the years you've done digital marketing, the payoffs and the pitfalls. Most people are receptive to learning or discovering new skillz, especially if it'll help them avoid looking foolish later. Don't lecture them though, or present your idea as the One True Way of Experiencing Everything. Keep it friendly and casual. For instance: "Did you see this amazing resource on gerbils? It was voted 'least solipsistic' of all breaking rodent news in Wired magazine recently. I thought it'd be helpful for you to use when promoting your rodent trivia cause."

For other tips on how to not be an asshole on Twitter, read this. Good luck!

Social media mistress Anna Pulley likes to give advice about how to play well with others on the internets. If you have a question about etiquette involving technology, shoot her a question at

Follow us on Twitter: @annapulley and @ExhibitionistSF or Facebook

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Anna Pulley


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