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So here is my gripe about the mis-use of social media today. First, let me tell you what makes social media great.

Good Social Media Uses

Sharing Ideas

What makes the internet itself a true revolution of our culture is the way ideas and information is spread. What is great about social media is you get direct feedback about your ideas in real time and unlike blogs or websites, you don’t need to build an audience to spread your ideas through. You just use your friends and relationships from normal everyday life as an entry point for new ideas. More friends helps, but great ideas spread no matter how important you may seem or how many followers you may have.

Engaging Individuals

Only on social media can you interact with so many people in ways that are still personal. Emails have entered into a formal form of communications, while social media is more comparative to receiving a phone call. Since spam doesn’t exist in the same way that it does with email, everyone is more receptive and excited about receiving communications via a social network.

Research

Never before has it been possible to do social demographic targeted research for opinions, market studies, case studies and focus groups for as cheap and simple as it is now on social media. If you have a product or organization, put it out there, promote it, and as people like your social media account, you can track demographics, or even study personalities of your fans to see what other media or products they are into.

Multi Media Scrapbooking

I like that on facebook, I can keep a complete history of my life through photos, videos, status updates, links shared, and everything that I do there. My generation doesn’t scrapbook any more unless we do it as a craft or art. We facebook our history.

Now, that said. Some of you out there are junking up the airways with trash that is hindering social networks from being all that they should be. Here is what you need to stop doing.

The Things That Are Killing Social Media

Location Tracking

Just because your phone does GPS and Social Media, doesn’t mean there is a good reason to hook them together. It is both a security risk, and it bugs your friends into deleting you. There are good uses for these systems for businesses or community organizing. But they don’t need to take place outside of the tools themselves. You don’t need to update your network to let us know when you are on lunch break and where you are going. It’s just wasting ones and zeros on the bandwidth of the internet.

Gaming

There is a place for social media and gaming, but for the most part, the conversations about a particular game should stay between the people who play the game on the game’s page or application, not post data to your wall. I know the game people only do this to pull in new players, but it makes you as a person look like an idiot who fiddles around on the internet playing games all day. This might be what you do all day, but you don’t need to tell the world how worthless you feel your time is. Just keep it to yourself.

Unconnected Self Promotion

If you got into social media because someone told you it was the new way to grow your business, then you were told a partial truth. It’s kinda like being a door to door salesmen. Sure you can knock on everyones door, but if all you do is read the script off the card, you won’t sell a thing. With social media, if you get involved just to push your product or organization, then you are just as annoying as the door to door salesmen has become. Try being more honest about your presence on social networks. Be personable and real with people, while also gently reminding and propagating your message out. Print marketing is push marketing, websites are pull marketing and social media is personal interaction marketing. Meaning two way communication. If all you are doing is blindly pushing information out, you will find one day that the only friends on your network are those doing the same blind pushing of information. Be accessible, personable, and interesting.

Photographing Everything You Eat

It kinda reminds me of when my granddad would keep a journal documenting his bathroom visits. It’s just a little TMI (to much information). My Granddad did it for his doctor to look at, but I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have run an ad in the paper or announced it at the grocery market. Either you are bragging about your dietary excellence or you are so vein to think that the world needs to be aware of what is passing through your digestive tract. The worst is taking a picture of half eaten or an empty plate and telling us all how much you enjoyed it. Leave food photography to the pros. You CAN NOT make food look attractive using your iphone. I’m talking to you Matt Mullenweg. Stop it.

If we can control the level and expectations of content for social media, then we can produce a truly meaningful online social tool. Otherwise, if we lower the bar, we can look forward to myspace 2.0 as the legacy of social media to leave to our children.