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Cut the crap

16 Apr 2010
Posted by Shannon

Social media users tend to ignore the first question most audiences ask of any communication that comes their way: What’s in it for me?

As I drown in waves of self-serving drivel, I wonder if there has been a genuine social shift into the Age of Narcissism, or if it’s an illusion created by the sort of people who favour Twitter, in particular. I suspect the latter, since some of the biggest offenders are well past their half-century mark.

Sree Sreenivasan, a digital media prof at Columbia’s journalism school, advises journos how to use social media effectively both as readers and writers.  For help finding worthwhile tweets he recommends sites like easylol.com, which gathers comic entertainers like Stephen Fry, Kevin Smith or the fake Sarah Palin (an imposter who tweets the twit's likely inner monologue). There’s one for journos called muckrack.com, which is furthered sorted by beat.

He also teaches users that if they want to reach the Bored At Work demographic – the largest, most receptive audience – they need to make tweets informative and relevant. And they shouldn’t reference themselves more than once in every five tweets.

Well, huzzah.

You still have to sort through the wealth of blather on those sites, of course. I finally had to unfollow one particularly annoying editor as he applied his creepy interpersonal style – an adolescent urge to overshare the details of his tedious personal life – to his Twitter feed.

It was cringemaking. I actually felt embarrassed reading it and the shallow blog he was trying to promote.

So when people ask why my Twitter account has gone unused for more than year, I point to this guy and say, “There but the for the grace of god go I…”