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Social Sense and Sensibility – New Video Series on Forbes

Submitted by on August 26, 2009 – 9:36 amNo Comment

This is a new video series that I have begun with Forbes.  I have long wanted a larger forum to discuss the issue of social media etiquette.  While the term “etiquette” often conjures an image of how to behave like an 19th century Englishman at the table, proper etiquette is a critical component of being successful on the social web.

Why?  Because like any social system, the web is held together by an unwritten set of norms that govern behavior.   Blogs, social networks, Twitter etc. have behavioral norms that a company trespasses at its peril (think of Walmart’s fake blog or all the consternation over astroturfing using these tools).

I will be answering questions submitted directly to Forbes (@forbestech) or me via twitter (@jmichele), this blog, or email (josh at jmicheleross.com)

For those that prefer text – here is the basic copy outline:
Q.
How are companies balancing the urge to tweet purely revenue-focused information with useful content that won’t make them a buck?
A.
The question puts up what I think is a false dichotomy; an opposition between revenue generating activities and “useful” activities that “won’t make a buck”.
Newsflash: If you aren’t “useful” to your community in social media – you don’t stand a chance of generating revenue. Tools like Twitter belong in a bigger category called “Social” technologies for a reason – They aren’t called “business” technologies. They are first and foremost “social” – and social tools follow social rules. The great thing is – we all already know these rules. Everyone knows how to be social – how to make and maintain relationships in the real world by being sincere and engaging in the normal give and take. To find balance in your Twitter activities just think of using it “socially”.
Here is what I mean. Think about Twitter like a party where your friends Dylan and Jen invite you over for what you think is a social gathering – let’s say a wine and cheese party – or a beer and Cheetos party if you prefer. Once all the guests arrive Dylan and Jen lock the front door and dive into a seriously heavy AMWAY pitch. Why you need it, why it’s good for you, why you really shouldn’t leave the party without buying in… If you are like me you would be indignant. This isn’t what you came to their house for! They aren’t “friends” at all – and this wasn’t a social gathering – it was a sales job! Jen and Dylan suck!!

Well – Twitter is like a wine and cheese party. If all you are talking to your guests about is your own money-making schemes – well then you wouldn’t have many friends then would you? Everyone will leave your Twitter Party. If however, during the course of a lovely evening at Jen and Dylan’s – Dylan turns to you and tells you about an amazing deal on Tupperware – you are going to listen.

Let the balance that you have as a well-rounded human being be your guide. If you are using Twitter in a social way – it means that you are finding interesting tidbits and passing them along for the good of the community – You are following others and passing along the information they have that is useful. If you have promotions you want to include for your users – Tweet it up… But remember, people join social networks not for your benefit but for their own…. Provide immediate value to the user first – you will be amazed what you can build once you do.
Start following @dell – or @peets_tweets they both do a good job of balancing promotions while also providing valuable information to their followers. Follow their lead.

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