Social Media Etiquette – When It’s OK to Join a Conversation
This post stems from something that happened to me while I was conversing on Twitter this morning.
Former colleague and friend of mine, Ginny Skalski, and I were holding a conversation about the theme of her company’s holiday party this year. Specifically, we were half-joking, half-serious about how she should get ready for that party. At one point she joked about going to the gym so she could look just as good as a celebrity looked in character for a particular film that ties into the party theme. It was a fun, light-hearted conversation between two people.
Then, out of the blue another Tweeter (@BeachVitality) whom neither of us know personally (at least I’m making that assumption on Ginny’s end) nor follow (again I’m making another assumption here) joined the conversation Tweeting a simple –
Commit to be fit.
and included a link.
My first reaction was “Huh? Where did that come from?” So, I clicked on their profile to see who they were & take a gander at their Twitter timeline. Sure enough, “Commit to be fit” is their mantra. They seem to use that phrase often. Their bio states that they wish to enlighten the public about fitness and nutrition.
I responded with a simple –
Um…@BeachVitality while I understand ur mission, I’m sorry but it wasn’t appropriate 4 U to join a convo btwn 2 ppl u don’t know. Thanks.
Perhaps my response was a bit harsh but with 140 characters in which to write, it was the best I could come up with to try and get my point across.
While I understand their mission…and I applaud it…in this case, the way in which they went about implementing it by joining a conversation in that manner wasn’t appropriate. (I’d say “…joining a conversation that was obviously between two people who know each other personally” but I can’t because despite programs that would show that it is [i.e. Hootsuite], perhaps they couldn’t see the full conversation as they were utilizing Twitter on the web or some other program.)
My response spurred another response with a Tweeter I actually do follow and whom I fully enjoy the information he shares on the medium. It was that conversation that further spawned this post.
In short, I basically told him that had Beach Vitality come at me with a response similar to this –
Hey @soandso (with “So and So” being Ginny) & @LisaSullivan saw you talking about looking good for the holiday party, we have ideas to get fit.
Then, their reaching out would’ve been OK because that’s exactly what they would’ve been doing – reaching out with a suggestion rather than budding in on a conversation. I might have even responded with a cutesy little response that said something to the effect of “Thanks for the inspiration!”
With all that said, this brings me to my point. There is a time, a place, and a means in which to engage with your fellow Tweeters. If you’re going to use Twitter effectively, even with a purpose such as Beach Vitality’s, understand how best to communicate across the platform and use proper etiquette.
I liken what Beach Vitality did to the person at a party that over hears a conversation going on between two or more people and that suddenly butts in to the conversation without so much as an “excuse me”.
As I stated above, had the Tweeter stepped back for a moment, researched why they felt the need to respond to an on-going conversation, they might have been able to formulate a better approach that would ultimately accomplish their mission.
If as I engage on Twitter I feel I have something to add to an on-going conversation, I’ll take a look at the dialogue first. Since I mostly use Hootsuite, it’s easy to “see the conversation”. However, if I happen to be using the official Twitter site or Twitter for the iPhone or another program that doesn’t have that capability, I then click on the Twitter handle of each person in the conversation to see their timeline. I then formulate my addition to the conversation based on that research…or I find that my contribution would be a moot point, has already been said, or is totally off kilter to the conversation at hand and as such, I don’t contribute anything. It only takes a minute (or less) to do that research.
The lesson –
when using a social media platform, be sure you are doing what you can to engage in it effectively so that you truly are sharing in the medium and not just promoting your services, products, or mission.
One final thought, sometimes I think we get so comfortable in social media that we forget while we may be talking to actual friends online, the rest of the world is not our friend…and the rest of the world tends to forget that. The point being – organizations, companies, businesses, brands, even individual people, need to remember they are each also communicating with human beings, and not just some avatar on the web.
Your thoughts? Would love to hear ’em. Perhaps I’ll use your comments in a future post.