#SocialSM Principle #4: Try acting like… a human being

Tom Liacas —  June 25, 2013 — 2 Comments

In an earlier post titled Psychopaths, Robots and Airheads, I critiqued the online ‘personalities’ of many big brand and institutional social media accounts. As these giants learn basic social skills online, their often dysfunctional personae constitute an amusing field of study. And yet, ‘personhood’ should be nothing new to corporations. In the nineteenth century, great legal battles were fought to gain them the same rights as individuals, including protection against defamation. Throughout the history of advertising, mascots and celebrity spokespeople were mobilized in efforts to make powerful economic conglomerates approachable, likeable and almost human. And now, these same giants want to be ‘friends’ with you on your favorite social networks.

Trouble these days is that mascots and celebrities will not cut it anymore. On social media, it’s hard to fake being human. The millions who interface with their peers every day size one another up as they do on the street. Who am I dealing with? They may ask as they read a message from your corporate account. Is this a creep? A shifty character? Am I attracted or repulsed? Would I take them robotairheadout for a beer or home to meet my mom?

This is where it gets weird for the many businesses that have established a social media presence but have not yet found their ‘personality’ or adhered to the etiquette that social media culture requires. Sure, some early adopters have nailed the thing and are ahead of the pack. The vast majority, however, fall into the following three patterns of ‘antisocial’ behavior:

The Psychopath:

The corporate account that surfs on any trend, however tragic, to promote its wares. Akin to the guy who hands out business cards at a funeral. More on this here.

The Robot:

The (many) social media accounts that broadcast announcements but never acknowledge public questions on their own pages. Ever talk to someone who speaks only about themselves and doesn’t listen? We all have and it’s just as annoying on social media. More on this here.

The Airhead:

It’s ok to talk about the weather or how Mondays are a drag from time to time. We all do it. However, if these are the main topics of conversation day in and day out on your social networks, is it really worth speaking at all? More on this here.

Here is the complete chapter text from the #Social Survival Manifesto:

Principle for Survival #4:

As stated earlier, you’re a mere mortal now. On social media, the multitudes will scrutinize your behavior and judge you by your personality traits.

What’s your online personality? Are you sensitive to the needs and feelings of others or are you a psychopath who lurks in conversations waiting for a chance to boast, to sell your wares or overpower your peers? Are you asking and answering questions, or are you a robot who can just emit unidirectional utterances? Do you think of something worthwhile to contribute to a conversation or are you an airhead that just shares platitudes or comments on the weather?

Imagine your corporate account as a human and ask yourself, would you ‘friend’ this person? If the answer is no, you are building up a club of haters who will happily slam you publicly some day…

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Tom Liacas

Tom Liacas

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An M.A. graduate in Media Studies, Tom Liacas is an experienced Social Network Strategist who first cut his teeth creating and managing advocacy campaigns as an activist.
  • TBSor

    It’s interesting/ironic that you used the word “interfaced” when talking about being a human being online

    • TomLiacas

      You’re right, that’s a pretty robotic term! Maybe I’m an android. If so, I am programmed with advanced human social conventions and have a very lifelike skin and blood vessel system. Also, I am fully functional and have successfully reproduced… twice. At leas that’s what my memory circuits tell me.