photo by Robert Couse-Baker

photo by Robert Couse-Baker

Twitter’s in the news again. The bloodlust of the Social Media mob hasn’t been sated by the ritual sacrifice of AA Gill and Jan Moir, and they’ve moved on to targeting regular users who dare to speak against our celebrity overlords.

Funnily enough, those paid to disseminate information and opinion have leapt on the “Social Media Bad” bandwagon. Newspaper columnists have been quick to condemn social media as an unruly gang of ravening nutters just waiting to whip out the pitchforks.

Now users of social media sites know that the above isn’t true, but what is the problem with Twitter, Facebook and their ilk? Simple.

You’re doing it wrong.

The above may seem like a sweeping statement, but the more social media comes into the mainstream, the more the original reasons we signed up become lost – or at least significantly diluted. Social media is a tool. A means, not an end. Something we use to pursue our own agendas, network with people and achieve goals.

Social Networking is About Networking

Just who is in your list? If you’re using social media to network, you’ll be following friends, people in your niche and leaders in the fields you’re interested in. If it looks like you’re following the rabble-rousers and watching the trending topics closely so you can be the first in your clique to lead the daily hate – you could just be doing it wrong.

It’s a fair comment that you can judge a person by the company he or she keeps, and on social media that rings doubly true. If your feeds are full of scattergun @attacks and “Friend #77 has joined ‘Kill, Maim, Destroy!’”, you might need to rethink your networking policy.

Pursue Your Agenda

As discussed above, you shouldn’t just be following the crowd. Ask yourself – why are you using different social media sites?

The three main sites I use are Facebook, Twitter and Sphinn. Facebook is used exclusively to talk with people I have met before, friends and old schoolmates. Sphinn is used to give me an insight into the latest SEO developments. Twitter I use to promote my blog, network with other SEOs and copywriters, and chat to people with shared interests.

The networks I’ve cultivated on each of those sites reflect my goals. If you’re doing it wrong, your social media networks will be a patchwork of celebrities, spambots and random people that stood shoulder to shoulder with you the last time you decided Two Legs Bad, Four Legs Good.

Set your goals – whether it’s to learn, share ideas or just natter, and manage your lists accordingly. And finally, remember the most important point of all…

Social Media is a Tool – Not a Time Sink

@TurnerInk: How about ensuring SM doesn’t become a time sucker.

The above is the best advice I’ve ever received from my social media network.

If you’re spending all day hammering refresh on six different sites, or juggling four or five clients and applications, you’re doing it wrong. Social media is a means – not an end, and you should keep your goals in sight at all times.

The next time you log into Twitter, if you find yourself digging round for the dirt on the last big Twit-fight, or your Facebook time is spent spewing vitriol  on one of your thousand “I HATE (X)!!” groups, you’re probably doing it wrong. You need to take a step back and see social media for what it is.

A tool that lets you connect with people to further your own goals, learn some new information, and make some helpful contacts. Not an instant, just-add-righteous-indignation hate mob generator.

Agree? Disagree? Don’t start a Facebook fan page or a Twitter hate mob. Just leave a comment below and share your thoughts with the group. And give this post a quick Sphinn too.


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