Steve Fenton

5 annoying social media techniques

I am now a proud member of just one social network… which is mostly meeting people in my local coffee chop. These annoying social media techniques were contributing factors when I retired all my social network accounts. Let’s have a look at the anti-social-media methods.

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We have all seen this one. Someone wants a bit of validation so they post the enigmatic “I really can’t believe this has happened”. This statement, empty of any context or meaning, is a way for the poster to feel popular as everyone gathers round to enquire about what happened and then share their sympathy, because it would feel awkward not to respond when they are told the boring details.

If you find yourself posting the mysterious-fishing-for-compliments message, it is time to start loving yourself a bit more so your friends don’t have to be the sole source of validation in your life.

Popularity Contest

This takes many forms and is an absolute classic for corporate accounts. The game is to get people to respond to you or share your message by making them think they are getting the best of you. A classic example is “I bet you can’t think of a band that doesn’t have the letter ‘B’ in their name! Try it – it is actually quite hard”. The knee-jerk reaction to this is, “no it isn’t hard at all” and you can easily think of an example to prove the point. So you post your evidence about how wrong they are, and they look really popular because of all the people who fell for this desperate trick. They didn’t even have the honest decency to give something away to the people who share or reply (which is still a sad popularity trick, but at least doesn’t pretend not to be).

We will probably never change the people who use these tricks, but we can change how we respond. In fact, by not responding at all.

Batteries Not Included

Most social networks let you attach images and videos to your posts. If they allow this, then just flipping-well use the feature. It can be a drag waiting for the image to load on its own, without having to open another website, download all their banners, logos, scripts, stylesheets and (finally) the image you wanted to share. If your photo-ruining application doesn’t plop the image straight into the post, there are others that will.

The same goes for setting up automatic sharing rules that re-post your comments to other networks. A Twitter uses does not want to create a Facebook account just to view your post, a Facebook user doesn’t want to create a LinkedIn account just to see your picture and nobody wants to download the Quora app.

If you really want to share with people on a social network. Do it on their terms, not on your own. It really shows you care.

Disrespecting Threads

Posts, tweets and comments are usually threaded like a conversation. If two people were talking about the weather and you interrupted to say “have you seen this picture of my cat”, people would think you were quite rude. Same goes on social networks. If people are talking about something and you have an unrelated cat picture to share, start your own thread instead of stomping all over an existing thread.

The same goes for dropping in on a serious discussion to make an asinine humorous contribution. Respect the tone of the thread and don’t undermine an important discussion by pointing out someone used the word “member”, LULZ.

Social networks are still just conversations, so all the same rules apply.


You created a blog post that you think is your greatest achievement. You share it on the social media and get a good response. Then you start to worry. What if people on the other side of Earth didn’t read it. Then you re-post it later to allow far-flung followers to get your link. If it stops here, fair enough. However, if you get really paranoid – it gets annoying. What if people were on holiday? I’d better post it again in a week. What if people read it and then forgot about it? I’d better post it again a couple of days later. What if I have new followers who missed my big moment?

The question you forgot to ask is this. What if people actually read all of your posts – won’t you really annoy the crap out of them? Better not post the exact same message every day.


Social networks aren’t a popularity contest. If you get one genuine meaningful response to a message, that is better than 50 responses that you trick out of unsuspecting morons. Social media also isn’t a great way of feeling good about yourself – except maybe in a really empty, hollow and short-term way. If you are a company, use your social media accounts to have conversations with customers rather than trying to create the next viral message – you are jumping the drumming-gorilla.

Not everyone feels the same way about these rules as I do – but maybe enough do that you’ll think twice before tempting us to delete you from our feeds!

Written by Steve Fenton on