Read the Article Before Commenting on Social Media
aka, how not to look like a total fool. See, here’s what happens: we, the good people of social media, work diligently to write a post or article about social issues like sexual abuse, rape, or mental health — or maybe it’s about cookies or velvet dog paintings … whatever. Then, we share a tweet or share with a title and a link to said article. Sometimes, the tweet or share asks a question. Now, savvy followers know that the link is there to you know, click.
Once one clicks, violá! Like magic, an article appears. Isn’t tech amazing? Then the reader can read the article, form an opinion, and we can discuss, have polite (one hopes) discourse, and conversation moves forward. I know, I live in an ideal world of unicorns and rainbows.
Not so savvy readers will, however, comment on an article they have not read, chests puffed out with life vests afloat in their own Lake of Opinion that likely has nothing to do even remotely about the article you have written, purely for the sake of making their opinion known, even if it has nothing to do with anything.
Maybe they are the ones living with the unicorns after all…
This upsets the writer of said article, for good reason; however, it also affects the reader’s own credibility. Addressing the person who doesn’t click on the article:
Do you want to be seen by your own followers as the person who doesn’t know how to click on a link? Who isn’t, for whatever reason, able to perform the due diligence of reading an article before commenting? If your goal is to create a credible following (as writers, isn’t this our goal?), then BE credible.
Read Social Media Bios
How hard is it? Really.
When people ask what I do (I find this especially the case on Twitter), I’m always a little bit amazed. All social media channels have bios! You have one, I have one, we all have one — so read it first before asking someone. This is really lazy, my friends. It takes thirty seconds to check someone’s bio, and maybe another thirty to read a few of their tweets. If you’re not on Twitter, cool. Read their Facebook bio, go to their blog/website and read their about page, or Google them! Do a bit of homework if you really want to find out about someone before approaching them.
Why? A few reasons: we are busy people. Why should I take the time to tell you what I do when I’ve already posted clearly what I do? I even have a link on my bio to my website and blog. You can read about me ad nauseam if you really want to, in many, many places. I’ve made it easy and convenient. We are adults here — it’s not my job to hold your hand and click the little mousey for you. I know that sounds harsh, but it’s true. Laziness is antithetical to working hard and working smart.
You got yourself this far. You can get yourself a little farther. Release that entitlement chip from your shoulder — let that damn birdie fly away.
Google That Sh*t
So many writers ask me and others questions they can easily Google: what’s a Twitter list? What’s a hashtag? What’s KDP Select? How do I get my Facebook page verified? How do I self-publish? Some people have even gone so far as to scold me for not explaining in great detail all these items to them, or even providing free services for them. Um….
I understand fully that a lot of these topics are confusing. They were foreign concepts for me, too, at first. It took me a lot of time and research to understand them myself. You know how I learned? I Googled them! I read articles, watched videos, took webinars. I did the work. The easy way out is to ask a question of someone and hope they have the right answer? Good luck with that.
The other option, beside Google, is to go into the Help section of whatever social media channel you have questions about and find your answer there or, hire a consultant (like me) to go into depth so you really understand how to use those channels.
Tip: Tired of lazy authors asking you questions they can look up themselves? Send them here:
Stop With The Excuses
How many times have you heard (or said yourself), “I didn’t know?” in response to a gaffe? Yes, that’s how we learn and we all make mistakes, but that is a lazy excuse and it can be a costly one. I’m not saying you need to know everything; I’m saying figure out what your strengths are, and focus there.Be honest about what you don’t know or else you are setting yourself up for failure, getting into situations where you’ll be called out for screwing up.
For example, there’s really zero reason for you to be downloading photos from Google at this point, when there are so many amazing royalty-free sites like Unsplash and Pixabay with gorgeous photos for you to use on your blog posts — bloggers have been sued for thousands of dollars for using photos they pulled off Google and their defense is, “I didn’t know.”
Too bad that doesn’t hold up in court.
If you didn’t know, now you do. Here’s a great article with twenty-seven royalty-free photo sites! (Source: VerveUK)
“I didn’t know,” works for my kids because they don’t know a lot of things. They are children, and they don’t have the experiences adults do. I certainly don’t know everything regarding the online world — if you asked me to design a book cover, you’d get stick people. If you asked me to SEO a website, you’d be sorry. I don’t do those things.
I know what I don’t know. It’s okay to not know everything! Be honest, always.
Always Give Attribution on Social Media and in Blog Posts
A friend is fighting an endless battle now with a large company who keeps stealing her images — she’s a brilliant writer and creates gorgeous visual quotes that she has tag-lined and watermarked. They go out of their way to illegally remove her identifying information and claim it as their own.
Who does that? The skeevy people of this world. Don’t do that.
Everything is searchable on Google, including text, photos, and images. Even if you delete something once you’ve posted it, it can be subpoenaed. The best option: be a stand-up person, and always give credit where credit is due! If you’ve found a great quote, give the author’s name. If you’ve found a great photo, share the photog’s name (unless otherwise stated), and site. If you’re quoting from proof sources in your blog post, name the source and link to it — I often ask permission of the site first.
Check policies of the sites you write for. When I share the articles I write on The Huffington Post, I always write in the blog post intro, ‘this article first appeared on The Huffington Post and is used by permission,’ as is their policy. Every site is different, so check first and if not stated, ask.
If you share someone’s article on social media, look up their Twitter handle and shout them out. They’ll appreciate being ‘tagged’ — you can do the same on Facebook, Google+, Instagram, and Pinterest, also. Social media is ALL about building relationships, and this a cool way to do that.
There is no easy button, and procrastination and entitlement get you nowhere. Do the work. People like people who work, and they’ll respect you more for it.