The Internet is a wonderful if confusing world – and that’s why you sometimes need to be pointed in the right direction. Lucky for you, some of us spend far too much time online and logged in – and that wealth of experience translates into some social networking know-how. Consider Miss Netiquette (who you can reach at firstname.lastname@example.org) your guide to Web manners, and this week, she’s going to give you some tips on how you can promote yourself and your work online without driving everyone around you bananas.
Social media is one of the best ways you can get the word out about things you’re working on, whether you’re an artist, writer, DJ, yoga teacher, small business owner, or graphic designer. Anyone working in a profession that requires seeking out clients or an audience can get a huge boost from successful social media engagement. Even people who just want to make sure their birthday party gets a solid turnout can use Facebook, Twitter, and other sites to spread the word and get bodies in a building.
But you have to be careful. It’s really easy to alienate people instead of enticing them if you go overboard with the Facebook event invitations and the incessant tweeting about your upcoming show. The following questions highlight how difficult it is to be a non-obnoxious self-promoter.
Dear Miss Netiquette: I’m doing a half-marathon to raise money for MS. I have a donation page set up, but so far only my parents and girlfriend have donated. I really want to do right by my team, but I don’t know how to solicit donations in a respectful way online. Any tips?
Every Movember, I start to dread logging on Facebook because I get inundated with messages from well-intentioned, hirsute friends looking for fundraising help. It’s not that I don’t want to donate to a worthy charity, I just don’t even know how to begin choosing who I should donate to, and the whole thing stresses me out. So I think you’re wise to be hesitant about taking your fundraising efforts online.
That said, there’s nothing wrong with putting it out there. You should share a link to the site with a quick update explaining what you’re doing, and say that you’d love for people to donate. You’ll probably get at least one friend to contribute, and as long as you make sure to personally thank whoever donates and you limit your posts about the fundraising to once a week or less, I doubt you’ll annoy people. I would avoid sending a direct message out to individual friends, because it puts pressure on them and may make them feel uncomfortable.
Maybe you can get away with directly asking a few close friends, but it’s always nicer to do so in a way that lets them know that there is actually no pressure, and you’re not just saying that to appear nonchalant. You could also post updates (sparingly!) showing photos of sights you see on your training runs (you best be training for this). Showing updates that demonstrate the effort you’re putting into the run could spur your buds to donate without directly hounding them about it.
Dear Miss Netiquette: I’m a DJ and I just got a sweet Wednesday night gig, but part of the job is promoting the event. My bosses expect me to run the Facebook event invites and use whatever means necessary to fill the place. I don’t want to be that guy who invites everyone on his friend list, but I don’t know what else to do.
OK, if you send mass invites you’re going to piss people off, but if it’s part of your job, it’s hard to get around. Do not send the invite to everyone on your friend list. Although it will be tedious, go through and create a list of people who you think would be reasonably interested in attending (leave off people from different cities, people who you know wouldn’t like it) and save the list. Only invite people on the list, and if anyone messages you and says they don’t want to get the invites, take them off that list! If you see some of your Facebook friends showing up, message them and ask them if they’d invite people to the event that they think would like it. That way you can grow the invite roster organically.
Dear Miss Netiquette: My sister-in-law is a blogger and asked me to share some of her work on Twitter and Facebook. I’m actually not that into her writing but I’ve still shared a few of her articles just to be polite. Then she called me out on not sharing her stuff enough. And my wife got pissed at me when I said I didn’t want to turn into her sister’s spokesman. I don’t know how to get out of this situation.
Your sister-in-law and your wife are being wack and unreasonable. You should not be expected to promote anyone else’s work. I suggest being honest (to a point) and saying that you just don’t like posting links that frequently and you’re not going to do it. You don’t have to come out and say you’re not crazy about her writing, just say you don’t like being expected to do unpaid promotions for her writing.
Of course, if taking that route is going to create major tension, you might want to try to ameliorate your blogger-in-law and post another one of her stories, just to get her off your back. It depends on whether you value your principles or your peace more (and I wouldn’t blame you for choosing either one.) You could always set the privacy settings on the post so that only your sister-in-law and your wife can see it, thus tricking them into believing you’ve shared it with the world. Although, if they’re that mad about you not posting in the first place, I wouldn’t want to be in the area when they figured out how you rigged the settings. So you have a few options, though none super awesome.
Dear Miss Netiquette: Can I use #FollowFriday to encourage people to follow my other Twitter handle?
If you want to annoy all your followers, yes. Otherwise, no. Why do you have two Twitter handles? Are you Anthony Weiner?
Dear Miss Netiquette: I’m an aspiring model and I’ve been told that I should post lots of pictures of myself on Instagram and Facebook in order to get attention from modeling agents and scouts. Which website should I post my shots on? All of them?
I know I just ragged on someone for having two Twitter accounts but if you’re really serious about this, make a professional Facebook page, Twitter feed, and an Instagram account devoted just to professional-level shots, so your regular friends don’t have to get bombarded with these promotional posts. Then you should follow the accounts of modeling agencies and more established models. As you build your fan base, make sure to engage with people when they comment on your pictures. I’d also resist posting anything too racy; you don’t want to get typecast.