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I spend a lot of time on social media. You may have noticed.

What you may not have realised however is how much I READ about social media. It’s a subject that really interests me, especially the notion of “best practices”. Why? Because I see so many people completely screwing up social media and annoying the crap out of people online.

What’s particularly surprising then is there is a PLETHORA of good advice going around on best practices for social media! As this great article states, it really is a “broken record” … Yet people continue to screw up ad nauseam in really obvious ways. 

C’mon. So much of this is common sense. But it would seem a lot of people don’t think before they put stuff online. They chuck up any old thing and either hope for the best or think it’s all accidental. It’s not. The best sites and personas online are CRAFTED. Just like your writing! 

Yeah OK, none of us are the authority on this stuff. I know for a fact there are some people out there who reckon I tweet “too much”; am too preachy on this blog, or “obnoxiously ubiquitous” with FB tags or Pinterest. Whatevs, homies. I’m an acquired taste, like anchovies or taramasalata … If you don’t like me, just unfollow/unfriend me and remember to close the door on your way out. Bye bye then …

… Still here? Great!

Then feast your eyes on these 6 ways to screw up your image online and annoy the very people you want to get on board with you:

6. Spam them with your links/promos.

Yay! You’ve got a new book or movie out – or maybe you’re crowdfunding, or want to collaborate with filmmakers? WE GET IT: it’s hard to stand out.

And often, time is of the essence: you need money/recognition/contacts AND YOU NEED THEM NOW otherwise your project or whole career will go TITS UP and everything you worked for will go down the TOILET and you might as well just jump off a BRIDGE because your spouse will DIVORCE you because of all the time you’ve spent on this shit!

Except copying and pasting the same tweets and statuses over and over just won’t cut it. You want people to know you’re there? It’s simple: ENGAGE WITH THEM. Offer them something – a reason to get on board with you. Pitching constantly at people will get you ignored, unfollowed, unfriended or even blocked. Harsh but true.

And yes, it’s the same for crowdfunding too. More: 5 Tips To Make Your Crowdfunding Campaign Stand Out.

Oh and btw – when is spamming not spamming? When it’s cross posting. But like everything, cross post  in moderation. And also: follow The Decision Book Series on Facebook, or over at Tumblr and/or Twitter – PSYCHE! 😛

5. Flame them.

C’mon: does it really need explaining why this is a bad idea? So let’s switch it around and look at it from the other side:

“Thanks for your feedback.”

Ever had this from me or seen me deliver this retort to someone else online? In case you were in any doubt, it means “fuck you”. As does “Thanks for letting me know your position” or the sarcastic, “thanks for showing me the light!”.

FYI – It is the only time you will read me using such vanilla phrasing, especially as conversely the more I like you, the more I am likely to SEEM to argue, bait you and/or take the Mick. (I’m British. It’s what we DO).

So, anyway these days I operate a strong “Life is Too Short” policy, which means I do not get into it with flamers or those whose POVs I find vile or tedious. Occasionally, I may get drawn into an exchange for more than 2 or 3 tweets (either because I’m seeking clarification as I don’t block willy-nilly, or because a Bang2writer is  valiantly making an attempt to defend me, which is appreciated but not necessary).

Again: ‘cos life is too short.

It comes down to this: you cannot “save” idiots from themselves. 140 characters or whatever is simply not enough to make people realise their views are a load of codswollop. If I tried to explain to my personal flamers that NO, there are no “rules” in screenwriting;  NO, I do not want to “encourage” teen pregnancy; plus NO, I do not want all young girls to use abortion “as contraceptives”? That is what I’d do ALL DAY. Seriously.

Remember, if they wanted to TALK to you, they would. If they come in guns blazing? They have already made up their minds about you or what you stand for. It is not personal. They’ve got issues, probably because they have the personality of a burrowing tick. Feel sorry for them: block, unfriend, unfollow and move on.

4. Whinge. 

“You know what I love? Hearing people complain how terrible their lives are.” Said by no one, ever. Another no-brainer.

Yes, yes, we all have shit days. 2012 had 187 of them, for me (I was counting).

But guess what. Complaining doesn’t do anyone any good, least of all you. So if things are getting on top you? Do yourself a favour: turn the internet OFF. Go for a walk. Meet a friend. Watch a film. Read. Eat chocolate. Pet a cute animal. Do whatever it takes to make yourself feel better, or at least take your mind off it. But for the love of all things holy leave the interwebs ALONE or you’ll end up on a one route highway to CrazyTown. And I ain’t talking about the one hit wonders.

3.  Make mad proclamations.

“Don’t you think the likes of [insert professional writer, filmmaker  or movie/show etc] make the rest of us look bad?”

“You’re crazy to pursue traditional publishing/ have an agent: don’t you know you could make much more money self publishing?”

“[Whatever] limits the imaginative reach of writers.”

“You’re such a good writer normally and yet this is shit.”

“I can tell Hollywood where it’s going wrong and save them millions.”

“I can’t take you seriously when you like [whatever].”

Yeah, imagine being told any of the above. Oh no, wait: I’ve heard ALL of the above straight to my inbox, @box, phone and FACE. And I get it all the time.

And guess what happens: I remember. And not in a good way. In a, “Oh God here’s another muppet who’s greasing up his/her pole for the downward slope into a tar pit where they’ll be preserved for all eternity as an oddity of their time“-type way. I am by no means a special case, either. All my writer and filmmaker colleagues report a high incidence of people making mad proclamations to them, day in, day out.

So the solution is simple: don’t do this! Don’t be that oddity, ‘cos you’ll end up fixed with a perpetual howl on your face of “Why doesn’t anyone take me seriously??”  Again: CrazyTown. And it’s hard to get out of! There are no street signs. Okay I’m done with this analogy. Moving on.

2. Diss all and sundry. 

Much as I hate to draw a line in the sand, generally speaking it’s the new writers who think it’s okay to take to social media and slag off creative works. {And if you ARE a professional writer or filmmaker, hating on stuff? Then what the hell are you playing at! You should know what goes into this stuff – usually blood, sweat and tears. A LOT OF tears].

But OK, so you’d do it a different way, a supposedly “better” way? Fab. Do you know what went into the project, or why? 9/10: no.

There’s nothing more tedious than being told what you’re doing (the operative word) is actually bad by someone who has no clue what sacrifices and development decisions you had to make. You wouldn’t tell a doctor how to perform an appendectomy just from watching Holby City a handful of times, so again it’s simple: please don’t diss other writers’ and filmmakers’ work.

Look, hate stuff all you want if you must. Fill your boots. I’m not trying to exert MIND CONTROL here. But if you can’t be constructive or at least funny about it? Shut your yap online. Seriously. You never know who will see it. Even if you don’t care whether you hurt somebody’s feelings, do it for yourself. ‘Cos as mentioned in the last section: people remember.

So, let’s make a pact: for everything negative you say online about a piece, you have to say two POSITIVE things … Because it’s rare that something has NO merit whatsoever; there’s usually *something* to enjoy.

And if you can’t say those two good things? Then say nothing, or say it “wasn’t for you”. Sorted.

1. Make Demands. 

I get stacks of emails, tweets and messages every week from writers wanting my help. And that’s cool, because I am always happy to help. I LIKE helping. And most writers asking me for help are great and y’know, normal.

However, there is a small contingent who:

  • Send multiple queries, complaining I have not answered quickly enough.
  • Complain on social media that I have ignored them, when I have forgotten or not seen their queries because they have sent via a channel like Linkedin PMs, which I check very infrequently (there’s a reason I recommend tweeting me with questions).
  • Complain I have not helped them “enough” (this usually means they have asked me to refer them to an agent or producer and I have declined, either because I have not read their work, or because I have & feel it is not ready).
  • Complain I have not engaged with them “properly” (what they mean is I have refused to be flamed or rebuffed a mad proclamation and perhaps unfriended or unfollowed them).
  • Complain that I favour women, or gay people, or ethnic minorities and that I’m obsessed with “ticking diversity boxes”, especially on contests and initiatives.
  • Complain I am “against” a genre or way of writing (rather than simply looking for a “good story, well told”, which I am).

Look, if you want my help? I will give it or refer you to someone or somewhere else who can, if I can’t. You DON’T have to flatter me, sacrifice a goat to me or promise me your first born child, either. All you have to do is be pleasant, patient and say “thank you”.

Oh and if you want to send me chocolate? That works too.


Don’t be mad.

Don’t be a div.

Don’t be rude.

Don’t whinge.


And last, but by no means least:

ENGAGE! Or get sent to the internet version of Coventry, which probably looks like the cyberspace bit in The Lawnmower Man crossed with Tron, where you’ll get eaten by Pac Man or a giant killer Triangle. Or something. Don’t say I didn’t warn you …


Congratulations! You’ve Just Totally Shot Yourself In The Foot

Using Social Media: Making Connections, Self Promotion, Creating Relationships

Connecting With Writers, Filmmakers & Agents Online 

10 Reasons Your Blog Sucks

5 Ways Writers Kill Their Credibility Online 

How Do I Make New Contacts?

More Social Media Articles on B2W 

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5 Responses to 6 Ways To Annoy The Crap Out Of People Online

  1. KT Parker says:

    Would you recommend having two accounts? One for the professional writing persona and another for putting my two cents into discussions about hot potato political topics and pressing social issues? Right now I only have one account that I use for *everything*. I don’t mean I post every fleeting thought that passes through my mind (I’m not from that generation and I do try to self-censor – a bit!), but as well as being a writer I am also a strategy consultant / investment advisor specialised in emerging economies (my day job; hence all the trips to Africa, India, etc.) and there’s a lot of stuff on the internet in my domain that I think is worth sharing / rebutting.

  2. Lucy V Hay says:

    Hi Kim, I actually have 2 FB accounts for this very reason TBH with you, though I know a lot of people make the distinction of Twitter for work, FB for personal use or vice versa. Whatever works for you is fine and I think lots of people realise there are multiple facets to writers’ interests. No one has ever said to me, stop tweeting about parenting, education AND writing/movies etc for example. I do think it’s important however to have a remit in general though, to get the best out of your online persona. If that’s best achieved by having separate accounts, why not?

  3. anne-marie caluwaert says:

    Will bring your chocolates —- and don’t say no as I have found out that it works! LOL See you at the LSF — nice blog post —

  4. Austin Tasseltine says:

    I’m the recipient of 4 and 5, today.

    It’s always a source of hilarity to me when people accuse THE SYSTEM or industry of being all wrong toward new writers, but then I see exactly why the firewalls exist – keeping nutters out. Three clueless, ill-informed tirades later, they can’t process the concept that they just demonstrated the very reason they aren’t getting work.

    If you’re not getting anywhere, it’s likely 1) your work not ready 2) your attitude 3) your breath. In that order.

    Oh, and telling high-level execs their jobs – this will definitely get you assignments. Yay!

  5. […] Cross posting is fine and even desirable in various groups, as long as you follow the rules (if applicable … Though do know sometimes admins will be jobsworths because they can). Don’t ever copy and paste @s on Twitter: people will BLOCK you. It’s also counterproductive to post to people’s individual Facebook walls on a regular basis without an agreement in place first. Also, try not to post the same pictures or text over and over again if you can; try and mix it up. MORE: 6 Ways Not To Annoy The Crap Out Of People Online. […]

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