For those of us who do use Twitter, how many times have you heard that one? Somewhere along the way, it became the fashionable way to sidestep the real question, “If your customers are on Twitter, why aren’t you?” Now, if you aren’t in marketing, what you do with your time is purely up to you. If you think Twitter is a waste of time and want to avoid it, that’s fine. But when I hear marketers give me the old line about not caring about what people have for lunch, it irritates me, because I think it is just an excuse to stay in your comfort zone.
Now understand, I don’t for one minute deny that some people on Twitter “over-share”–honestly, unless you are in my family, I don’t care what you had for lunch either (and maybe not even if you are in my family). And, certainly some people spend way too much time on Twitter sharing things that I am not interested in–some share things that almost no one would be interested in. I bet I am guilty of it myself at times. But I fail to see what that had to do with Twitter.
Over-sharing is a frequent criticism of Twitter and other social media but I think it treats the medium as the message, which is natural because the medium is new. If people send you e-mails every day sharing the details of their lives, would you criticize the whole idea of using e-mail? What about if someone sent you a chatty postcard every day? Would you stop your mail delivery? No, you wouldn’t, because you are already convinced that those channels of communication are useful, so you would blame the annoying person for their behavior. This is the leap that you need to make with social media, too.
It’s definitely true that people in social media can be annoying, but that is because people everywhere are annoying. If you start using social media and you find yourself being annoyed, stop following those people and look for people that are sharing things you want to look at.
So, when I hear people complain about lunch details on Twitter, I tell them “I am really glad you voiced this because it is human nature for us to focus on something new as the cause of something we don’t like. Everyone does this–not just you.” When they do it at a conference or at a class I am teaching, I tell them, “It’s great that you voiced this in a class where everyone is supposed to drink the social media Kool-Aid. You are right that there is nothing about social media that eliminated annoying people, but if we want to unlock the power of social media for branding and marketing, then we need to get past the annoying people and treat them the same way they do when they annoy us everywhere else. ”
To me, that is the message. If someone annoys you, you don’t shut down the communication method, you avoid the person. When people latch onto annoying behavior to avoid a method of communication, I think it is just an excuse not to try something new, not to stretch, not to take a risk. Again, if you aren’t in marketing, that’s up to you. But if you are, I don’t think that you can avoid places where your customers congregate just because you find some of them annoying.
People are annoying–get over it. You probably annoy people, too. I know I do. In fact, I am probably annoying some of you now. Sorry.