Saturday, June 26, 2010

Adding Friends in Social Media: A How-To

After my recent Twitter etiquette guide, the question came in: what about following people? How does one do that properly?

Well, I've talked about this on my podcast a bit, but let me explain my theories a bit further here. Mind you, they are only my theories. Everyone does Twitter the way it works best for them.

I really think it's different, depending on which form of social media you are using. For example, on Facebook, which I use mostly for friends and family and business colleagues, I don't just add people helter-skelter (1,268 friends). Remember, Facebook has a max cap of 5000 friends, but this includes friends AND things you are fans of. So if you have a lot of fan pages, those add into your 5000 total.

So on Facebook, I evaluate each new Friend Request carefully. Is this person friends with people I know? Someone I do business with? What are their interests? Similar to mine? Politics? Etc. What compels me to add this person? I can promise you that someone with no profile (barely a profile) and/or no picture in their avatar is someone I will Ignore. I've also taken to ignoring people from India and the Phillippines because for awhile, it seemed like the spammy stuff was coming from these kinds of profiles.

I take nearly the opposite approach on my MySpace profile (20,000+ friends). I pretty much add anyone that asks ( I don't add people who don't even take the time to put a picture in to represent themselves. Nor do I add obvious advertisements, instead marking them as Spam. I don't add people who look crazy or have violent avatars. Other than that, you're pretty much in with me, no matter who you are. That said, I would say that 90% of the people who request friendship are bands, asking me to listen to their music. I don't. I'll add them, but that's it.

Blocking is my friend. If bands take the proper approach and send their music to me through the MySpace email, wonderful. If they spam my comments with it (and people do this a lot when you have 20,000 friends), they get ONE chance to do that, and then I block them. I have more people on my block list on MySpace than many people have friends (2000+).

The dealbreakers for me in comments are: people who post self-playing music players, anything at all that looks like an ad, people who post every other day to your comments section (Happy Thursday!). Other than that, they can post as they like. If you check my comments section, there is some pretty trippy stuff. You should see the stuff I delete! Man!

But as a social media site, I spend the least amount of time on MySpace. I never check my mail there (since it is all bands). I never devote any serious time there anymore. It's been usurped by Facebook and Twitter.

Which brings us to Twitter. Twitter is somewhere in the middle. Initially, I added everyone (a MySpace approach), and quickly reached the (unmarked anywhere) limit of 2000 people followed ( If you follow 2000, you can't follow anymore. Period. That proved very counterproductive. Since I hadn't known this when I started, my only option was to start another Twitter account ( I wouldn't recommend this. I learned the hard way. It's much better to have one account and use it well.

So hopefully you can use my hard-learned advice in building your Twitter profile. 

For me, a good Twitter following list is well-crafted. Add people you know you want to follow (friends, family, colleagues). From that point, you want to build up a good strong list (at least 100 people, IMHO). On my Michebel account, I'm following 2,667 (I had over 3000 before they instituted the cap on followers.) On Michebella, I hover right around my max: 2,001. Can't add any past that.

Here's the situation with that. You can add up to 2000, basically, with no problems. You can add more when others start following you. For example, someone like Ashton Kutcher, who has 5,149,830 followers as I write this, COULD add that many that he is following. That would be a bit crazy, but would sure make for a lively Twitter stream.

Someone like Conan O'Brien, who famously is following ONE person, is an idiot who doesn't know how to use Twitter properly. No ONE person is fascinating enough that all you want to read is their Tweets. No one.

So you want a mix. What I look for in my stream is a combination of things I'm interested in (entertainment, music, comedy), people who are funny, people who are inspirational, political people, people up on current events, people who get Twitter.

Most of all, I think it's important that YOU not be bored with your Twitter stream. If you are sitting there, following only 10 of your closest friends and family, and no one's Tweeting anything, you're just staring at a blank screen, saying, I sure don't get this Twitter thing, you might wanna add some more folks.

Here's what I suggest. Take someone that you respect, whose Tweets are interesting/topical/funny to you, someone with a lot of friends, but someone who TWEETS. Don't use Oprah as an example. Love her, love her show, but she's terrible as a Twitter user. She still doesn't get it. Take, for example, someone who, when you look at their profile, you like or find funny or are interested in nearly every one of the things they Tweet. Use THAT person. Go to their list of people they are following, and cull from there.

And yes, it is more time-consuming, but I would suggest, especially initially, going through and reading, or at least glancing at, every profile of everyone you add. Look at that first page, and see if you are amused, then add them.

My former roommate was really struggling with Twitter, and she pretty much found everyone boring. I worry about her, and she's probably still not on Twitter. Twitter is an engagement medium, though. You give and others give back to you. If you're not interested in that, don't waste your time there.

But if you stay, you are looking for people you'd want to be friends with, hang out with, date, get to know socially, get a job from, just like in real life. If someone is a sports fanatic, and you loathe sports, you probably don't want them in your stream. No harm, no foul. It's your place, you craft it.

Personally, I banish Republicans and mommy bloggers from my stream. I'm sure they are wonderful people. I'm sure they have nice things to say, I just don't wanna hear "Joey just threw up" one more time. Some people take it very personally if you don't add them, or worse, unfollow them. Too bad.

It's your stream, you're reading it, it's gotta be vital to you. VITAL. And you're the one who makes it so. Today I rely on Twitter for my most current news, my sports scores, earthquake stats, news about celebrity deaths, all sorts of things I get there first before anywhere else.

I also make it a practice not to add companies that you know are going to spew ads at you, radio stations that just spew their playlist, things that in general are annoying. In fact, if you add someone that you think is fine, then they start spewing a bunch of crap, unfollow them. Without hesitation. Or if you read a bunch of Tweets from someone and they bore the crap out of you, unfollow them.

I cull my Twitter list now every day. Since I'm at my max of 2001, I add and delete people constantly, and keep a list of those I hear about that I want to follow, when I'm able to. It used to be proper Twitter etiquette that anyone who followed you, you could automatically follow, but that's fallen out of fashion (in my case, only because of the Twitter limits). There was talk of Twitter possibly adding a feature where you could automatically add those who followed you, but it hasn't happened so far.

People sometimes ask if it's difficult to read the stream of 2001 people. No, because not everyone's every Tweet shows up. I wish they had the Facebook feature where you could highlight those you REALLY want to read every Tweet from, and let others fall where they may.

I will say this, with 2001 people, there is always an interesting mix of stuff coming over Twitter. I have people on my list from all over the world, so my Twitter never sleeps (if you only add people in your area, your Twitter will be dead for eight hours a night). I personally think you need to be following at least 1000 people to have a good mix, but everyone's view on this is different.

Would I follow 25,000 people if I was able to? Certainly.

Also, if you are tired of culling through profiles one by one, and just want a bunch of suggestions of who to follow, try these things. 

1. Lists
Good Twitter users have developed lists for the people on their stream. This is really good for job hunters, as many people have lists about job possibilities. But while you are culling through people's profiles, if you see that they have lists, check them out. Add people from them that you find interesting. Especially if there are people who have the same interests you do.

2. Follow Fridays
You'll hear about this a lot. Here's what I know. People who participate in Follow Friday are good Twitterers, period. In short, it's people on Twitter recommending a group of people for others to follow. In my case, I recommend people who either have made that week fun for me, or people who I know always have good Tweets that I think others would benefit from. I don't do it every week anymore (depends how busy I am), but it's an important part of Twitter culture. Look to those who do it, and do it yourself. I also do a "Celeb Follow Friday" occasionally. (By and large, celebs on Twitter are a waste of time, but there are those worth following sometimes.)

The people who are good Twitterers are those who are active and engaged. Who thank you for RTing them, for FollowFridaying them, for responding. Good citizens, good netizens, people with good hearts. That's why I love Twitter. To find so many like that all over the world. You have 2000. Choose them wisely.


Friday, June 25, 2010

Miche's Twitter Etiquette Guide for Celebrities and Others

Many people offer their suggestions at how to do Twitter better, more effectively, in a way that's better for your "brand," whatever. Basically, I've shied away from such stuff. Everyone can do Twitter however works best for them. In general. But recently, I've come across several annoying things that I wanted to bring up so we all could be better Twitter citizens. So, forthwith, the Miche Etiquette for Twitter manifesto:

1. If it's automatic, don't do it.
Any application that "automatically" does anything related to Twitter, avoid like the plague. This includes, but is not limited to, apps that automatically spam people's inboxes, apps that automatically add new followers, and recently most heinous of all, the automatic posting of a new horoscope each day.

a. The horoscope item is particularly annoying because, first off, you may be a Capricorn. I'm not. Therefore, I don't give a crap what is happening with Capricorn today. (Assuming I even care about horoscopes at all.) You are automatically alienating 11/12ths of your audience.

b. If the app puts it in your Twitter stream for you, how do I know that it has any value for you anyway? You can't tell me that each and every day this app drops pearls of wisdom into your Twitter stream.

Let's revisit.

Twitter, when used properly and to best effect, is like when you have something that you just can't wait to tell your best friend, neighbor, sister, significant other. Some witticism or life event or fascinating link. It is REALLY only these things that people want shared. Something that, at minimum, is of value to you.

Now, if you want to get your inbox spammed with your Capricorn horoscope, knock yourself out. But why should I, or anyone else be subjected to it? It's just rude and insensitive, and I will unfollow you for it.

2. Celebrities, get a grip.

Celebrities, God's gift to the world, after all, think we revolve around them, hang on their every word, and breathlessly await each bit of info and concert posting. Well, in short, we don't.

a. Keep your concert calendar to your fan pages, please. Those who really do seek out this information, will seek it there. Twitter is your connection to the world, and the world's connection to you. AS A PERSON. Not as a celebrity.

b. Think again of "info I just have to share with my best friend, etc." Would you breathlessly tell your best friend that you're playing in Tahoe on July 28? And here's where you can buy tickets? Probably not if you want to keep that friend. Think of Twitter as one big friend. PLEASE.

c. Twitter is not the place to try out your latest bits, Conan O'Brien. Comics who don't talk in real words, just drop jokes in their Twitter stream are also unfollowed by me. If I want to see your comedy, I'll just watch you on... wherever it is you are now.

d. You wanna see how real celebrities act on Twitter, don't look to Ashton Kutcher. Check out Rainn Wilson, Alyssa Milano, people who are truly giving back. That's how you do it.

e. Don't use your Twitter stream to answer fan questions. This is also what a website is for. I do understand that those of you (Conan O'Brien) who are only following, oh, say ONE person, think that the stream is your list of responses from fans, um, it's NOT. Try following more people and find out what the Twitter stream really is. All this You, You, You stuff may be how traditional media works. It is definitively not how Twitter works.

f. Maybe there should be a rule that Celebrities Have to do a Follow Friday at least once before they can post anything. That would be useful.

3. Be positive, be uplifting, be helpful.

a. People want to be lifted up by the power of Twitter. They don't want to hear your bitching about your husband, your coworker, your boss. Negativity is on the fast track to an unfollow, trust me. I'm not saying that everyone can be cheery all the time, but really people don't wanna read a bitch session. I recently had someone that I value on my Twitter stream go off because a food truck kept pinging him with messages that he found to be inane. So he let loose about TEN Tweets about how rude and disrespectful this truck was to him. And when people tried to call him on it, his answer was, "if you don't want to hear me bitch, unfollow me." I was way ahead of him, but he got his wish. And I kept the offending truck ON my Twitter stream.

In short, personal vendettas of any kind belong in an email, or a DM. Don't let this loose on the rest of us. Being angry in public only makes you look bad, and this is as true on Twitter as anywhere else.

b. I don't wanna hear how your husband is sleeping around and with whom. These are private conversations. (Remember those?) Remember, anything you post on Twitter can be seen by ANYONE. And remains, long after you're done with it.

c. Helpful, kind words go a long way on Twitter as in life. Use them.

4. Selling still doesn't work for me on Twitter.

a. More and more, especially in the mornings, I see people trying to sell or market this or that: seminars, websites, classes, products. They almost always rate an unfollow from me. Mind you, an occasional website or blog mention is fine. If I look at your profile, and it's all selling, or even 3/4s selling, it's an unfollow.

b. Twitter is a people place. Chat, conversation, getting to know one another. If you wouldn't rush home to tell your sister: Buy this DVD from me!, don't do it in your stream either.

5. If someone bugs you, UNFOLLOW.

a. I regularly purge my Twitter stream of people who've committed any of the above egregious crimes. Life's too short to have angry people venting, or self-important celebs preening, or marketers selling their crap at you.

b. A good part of really enjoying Twitter is getting people on your stream that you truly want to hear from. For some people, this means only following 10 people. For me, it means having a lot, but purging frequently (daily).

c. Whatever you do, ENJOY. Twitter is a blissful experience to me. I don't know how I lived without it.


Saturday, June 5, 2010

On the new TV genre staple: Families

What else is there to churn out in TV that's reliable, and constantly has stories? We've done crime procedurals to death. Medicine/doctor shows have had their day. Lawyers? Yawn. Oh, I know! Families!

There's something everyone can relate to. To me, it was annoying enough when Brothers & Sisters brought us too many family members, all yammering and in each other's business, constantly gossiping on the phone with each other. But there were some situations that Brothers & Sisters did well. And it is still on the air, after all.

So let's trot out that formula. 

In catching up with potential Emmy contenders, I've just sat down with two of the talked-about shows: one comedy, one drama; both about families. Maybe I was spoiled because I watched the good one first.

"Modern Family," on ABC, is a genuinely funny comedy about a typical (by today's America standards) family. The gay son, the sex-crazed daughter, the father who marries an insanely hot younger woman (what is it with men in Hollywood constantly presenting this stereotype? This doesn't happen in middle America, you know...). But I digress.

"Modern Family" (though about families, and I admit, the topic of families kinda makes me wanna throw up) has a lot of funny lines and situations. Julie Bowen, way better here than in her last ABC show ("Boston Legal") is warm and you wanna know her story. Jesse Tyler Ferguson, as her brother, is also warm and kind.

The pilot of this show made me want to see more. Ed O'Neill is the penultimate father after his long "Married with Children" run, and they had to work hard to make such a truly sexy man (IRL) look so old and frumpy for this show.

The other family show, the NBC drama "Parenthood," has an absolutely stellar cast. This is why I managed to TiVo nearly every show this season, telling myself it just had to be good. Craig T. Nelson is their father. In fact, nearly everyone in this show you've seen somewhere else on TV. For Monica Potter, it's a good thing you probably don't remember her from "Boston Legal."

For others, it's not so good. After all, how can anyone ever wipe away Nate Fisher or Lorelei Gilmore from our minds when watching Peter Krause and Lauren Graham, respectively? It's really truly hard to see Lauren parenting these two kids, when you know she should be off somewhere taking care of Rory. And we all know Nate's dead.

That said--and for me, it still hangs over every frame of this show so far--it's really great to have them both back in our living rooms, where they belong. And if it can't be Rory, Mae Whitman is feisty and compelling enough to want to watch what she does as Lorelei...AHEM, SARAH's daughter.

But, dear God, the family around the dinner table where everyone is talking at once dynamic is so played out. I'm so over it. It's bad enough we have to listen to that crap in our real lives. I don't wanna see it in my art.

I was just about ready to give up on this show, when Lauren Graham has a date (with the ubiquitous Mike O'Malley). And there, the first moments of poignancy that tug at your heartstrings. Peter Krause has a few of them later in the pilot episode too.

So, my jury is still out on this show. At least the living room scene where the brothers and sisters are yammering at each other played better than any episode of Brothers and Sisters I've ever seen. You felt the natural rapport amongst them, and the love. It was really beautiful.

Although I hate to say it, I'm going to be giving both of these shows more chances. Families. Who knew?