Okay, we all have websites, fan pages, twitter accounts, blogs, face-spaces, web-books, all that stuff… and we ALL want everyone else to see them, go to them, 'like' them, comment on them, etc. We all want to be 'friends' with our peers, other working professional, and our heroes in the industry. Even if we have never met them in person. There is a ton of this social networking and internet interactions going on right now. I find myself too often confronted by what I would consider social flubs that could easily be prevented. Basically, here are some things that really push my buttons online and if you do them with me you will find yourself 'unfriended' and/or blocked. Having talked with my friends and peers about this I know I am not alone in these feelings. While most of these things are Facebook oriented they are all a good rule of thumb when handling yourself online, especially with strangers, professionals, and people you would like to work with.
1. Remain Professional - Until you REALLY get to know the other person through repeated communications or through an extended working relationship maintain a professional attitude and communication style with people. You can not go wrong with this. It is very hard to over share or say the wrong thing when you approach all communications with a purely business or professional viewpoint. The person that just accepted your friend invite that you have never met, that lives on the other side of the world, is not your BFF (yet) so treat them with a high level of respect and courtesy. ESPECIALLY if you want to work with them. ESPECIALLY if they live in another country and may have different interpersonal customs or practices.
2. Ask First - You want to have an artist look at your work and hopefully give you a critique? You want them to answer a question about the industry, a client… or just about anything that will require time of the other person? You need to first introduce yourself and ask permission BEFORE just sending them a link or attachments of your work for them to look at. This, like so many other points I will cover can really be dealt with by asking yourself, "If some stranger on the internet did to me what I am about to do to someone else, how would I feel?" OR the good ole 'do onto others as you would have them do to you'. A simple introduction and then asking permission first goes a long way.
3. Anticipate NO - This goes back to point 2. We are all busy. We all have deadlines, family, work, stress, fun, hobbies, etc… and some stranger contacting us on the internet asking for part of our very limited spare time is going to end up on the bottom of the 'to do list'. You have to expect that in the end you will get more answers of no then yes. Or at least folks will just not get back to you or forget. I tell people all the time that I will try (and I mean it), but if they don't hear back from me in a month or so, just to send me a friendly reminder - I got busy and forgot. Get to know people, it is a whole lot easier to get someone to talk about your work once you are friends (real, not just on Facebook).
4. NO TAGS - DO NOT, and this is a biggie for me, DO NOT tag me in your post, your art, your ANYTHING on Facebook that you want me to look at or see if we are strangers and have never communicated before. You will be unfriended immediately. This hits points 1 and 2 dead on. For me this is extremely unprofessional and you did not ask first. Do I know you? Are we friends? Then I don't mind the tags too much. I know MANY other people who feel the same as I do on this and I know others who don't mind at all, but they are in the minority. You may be really proud of what you just finished and would really like to show it to me… that is what a personal message it for, that is what an email is for, that is what posting it on your own wall is for.
5. Do NOT Thread-jack - Want to get an artist to look at your work? Want people to 'like' your fan page? Want people to check out your updated website? The place to brings these things up in NOT in the comments of someone else's post or image. This has happen to me too many times and it has resulted in someone being unfriended immediately. This is inappropriate on every level. A personalized direct message or other form of direct communication is where this type of interactions needs to take place, PERIOD.
6. No Mass ANYTHING - This ties into points 1, 2 and 4. I have been guilty of the crime of mass emails to let people know something I worked on is out, but this was only people I knew AND this was before my blog, my twitter account, and my Facebook fan page. Do not tag everyone you know on Facebook on an image or post. Mass emails and tagging can really be annoying and are unwanted by many, weigh the pros and cons of doing very carefully. I will post stuff endlessly on my own twitter account and Facebook wall but it ends there. I do not invoke the tag or directly post to anyone else when it pertains to my web promotions. There is a fine line between promotion and harassing spam.
7. Invite ONCE - Oh boy, this is another big one for me. Everybody is making Facebook fan pages lately and everybody is sending me invites to 'like' them. Here is the truth of the matter, I barely can keep up with all of my friends pages. This means I can not 'like' and follow every page that I am invited to follow. Just not going to happen. There is no need to tell me about how I can 'like' a page and then hide it… it is my account and my choice on what to 'like'. Do not expect everyone to just like your page just because you sent them an invite. I have plenty of friends, ACTUAL friends, that don't 'like' my fan page, and that is fine! It is their choice. Here is how this goes horribly wrong… I received an invite to like a person's page 4-5 time IN ONE DAY. I had to send them a message insisting they stop. This type of behavior is inexcusable. I send out invites to like my fan page once a month and I try very hard not to invite anyone more then once.
8. Don't stalk - That artist you have never met that does the art you really like… yeah, don't be that person that 'likes' EVERY SINGLE THING they post or say online. You can feel that way, but you will get noticed and it gets creepy. Again, think about how it would feel if there was some person you never met 'liking' every single thing you posted on Facebook… creepy, right? Just dial it down a little, even though fan comes from fanatic it does not mean you need to stick to the original meaning. You are not going to get to be pals with someone by liking everything they say and do.
We all have to learn how to manage ourselves online and how best to conduct ourselves. I have made plenty of mistakes while online and I learned from them. We don't have to be perfect and everyone comes from a different place and has different expectations of their online interactions. Keeping a level of professionalism with the people you interact with as well as a healthy level of respect for everyone will go a long way. Of course, these are my opinions, take them for what they are worth...
That's all for another exciting Wednesday on the blog, see you back here on Friday! Until then...
For more samples of my work or to contact me regarding my availability head over to my website: www.christopherburdett.com