Ten Social Media Commandments

I've been a social media user and professional for the last several years, have made many observations over the years, and seen many trends come and go. Based on my experiences, plus pulling out my hair over the things that just make me nuts about Facebook and Twitter, I've come up with these social media commandments.

1. Thou shalt not act all "healthier than thou" and post pictures of healthy food you're eating, or try to make us think that it's totally enjoyable. We all know that people who have switched to soy bacon from real bacon die a little with every piece they eat. So a status update that says "Totally loving my soy bacon. Nom nom nom!" is a lie, and an abomination in our eyes. So is the soy bacon. Also, don't say "nom nom nom" unless you're Cookie Monster.

Sub-Commandment 1a. If you have to tell people that your healthier substitute food is "just as good" as the original food, that's code for "I cry myself to sleep at night." I once saw someone post a photo of a watermelon "cake" — a large round piece of watermelon adorned with several kinds of fruit — with the caption, "Who needs cake?" My response: Everyone who isn't tricked into thinking that fruit is just as good as chocolate cake.

2. Thou shalt not post pictures of food in general. Chances are, I'm sitting in my office eating a Lonely Entrepreneurs Frozen Microwave Meal and feeling sorry for myself while you're posting photos of your double cheeseburger with a fried egg.

3. Thou shalt posting things other than motivational tweets to Twitter and Facebook all the time. They are boring and repetitive, and sometimes you contradict yourself from day to day. If they really worked, you would be so successful and busy, you wouldn't have time to post them, let alone use social media.

4. Thou shalt stop posting angry political rants from either side of the political spectrum. Chances are they came from a not-very-accurate source to begin with, but when you post nothing but that, it gets tiresome. Complex political viewpoints cannot and should not be summarized in a seven-word caption on a photo of an angry cat or Willie Wonka. I'd rather see photos of your health food.

5. Thou shalt check Snopes.com before you post anything about the government trying to take things from people, that they stopped putting In God We Trust on money, or that they're trying to sell Alabama to Mexico. (Seriously though, do you think they'd give us a good price for Alabama? I'm just asking for a friend.)

6. Thou shalt stop using photos of your children, or you as a child, or your pet in your avatar. I have no idea what you look like. I am pretty sure you're not a cute kitten, since they don't have thumbs, and cannot work a mobile phone. Also, thou shalt not use a photo of you at the beach at sunset, with the sun at your back, from 200 feet away. For all I know, that's a stick in the sand.

7. Thou shalt refrain from posting your Twitter conversations directly to Facebook. No one wants to see half of a conversation, such as you making lunch plans with your friends.

"Hey @edeckers, do you want to go to lunch today?"

"Where do you want to go?"

"No, I had that yesterday."

"That sounds good. What time do you want to meet?"

"Cool, see you then. #SoExcited!"

8. Thou shalt stop posting "selfies" of you making "duck lips" in the mirror. Selfies are photos of yourself. Duck lips are when you, well, make duck lips. If you do take a photo of yourself, please make eye contact with your reflection, rather than looking at your phone.

9. Thou shalt stop posting your exercise updates every morning at 6 am. I don't post updates of how long I'm sitting at my desk or on my couch. Mostly because they make me feel guilty and like I'm going to die at my desk one day, facedown in a Lonely Entrepreneur Frozen Salisbury Steak.

10. Thou shalt not post vague messages to people you don't address by name, like "I wish people who say they love you would quit stabbing you in the back and talking about you to their friends. Unfriending me and hoping I won't notice is the final straw." Everyone who sees it has no idea who you're talking to, and the person you're addressing won't see it in the first place.

The second edition of Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), and my other book, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing are both available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million, or for the Kindle or Nook.


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