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4 Comments // Filed in Branding / Etc / Web

The Danger of Following Social Media Rules

I love rules. Like Wired magazine, I believe that some limits can boost creativity. In a broader sense, rules also help avoid confusion and chaos. Let’s also assume that most of these rules have merit, and yes, I also believe some are meant to be broken.

This post is going to talk about the latter. There are a million and one rules on how to conduct oneself online, most based on the mythical “common sense.” People have even made hilarious comics about what not to tweet. Yes, all well and good. To continue my hyperbole, there are probably also a million and one reasons why we should and shouldn’t follow certain rules. But the main reason why you should ignore these rules is this:


In my more recent Art of Self-Branding presentations I say that you’re not a unique snowflake, but your personal brand is part of a unique story arc. Your life is like a movie. There are many characters, stories, some with similar plots and personalities. 90% of the people reading this post work on the web and have similar skill sets. What makes you different and why should I work with you? Your personality, your story arc, the journey of how you get to where you are and what you’re doing right now.

Watching Why the Phantom Menace Sucked Part 1 really outlined the importance of clear and precise characterization. Even if it’s cliched, the original trilogy’s characters personality traits are thought of with a lot of affection. This is also the same online. If you follow all these social media “rules” to the T, you will just become yet another person who only a) talks about work (boring) and b) cannot be described by anyone else (forgettable). At the very least, you have to be the Star in the film of your life, not Generic Extra Looking Busy! Hence: personality. You should be more interested in learning how to speak human and increasing your whuffie factor.

And let’s not forget, the main reason for social media is to connect like-minded people or inform people of new ideas and things. Restrict what you express, and you’re possibly missing out on other people who have the exact same thoughts, dreams, hobbies, and passions as you do.

Fun fact: When I tweeted about my new KitchenAid mixer I had the most @replies, Facebook comments, and Flickr views I’ve ever had for any tweet within a 10 minute span (the only one that topped that is posting a photo of my home office). I don’t always get the same reaction from tweeting a great article about design, business, or branding. Why? Because while those subjects are interesting, useful and vital, talking about something personal that people can relate to garners immediate personal relevance. Personal relevance = engagement.

Now, after saying all this, do any of us who use Twitter, Facebook, et al regularly actually ever cared about the rules in the first place? Do some of us just “get it?”

4 blabs to The Danger of Following Social Media Rules

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Speaking Human is such an important part of being socially engaging in general. Whether you’re trying to sell a product or talk to your friends about what you did over winter break. It’s important to be real. I have a few friends on Facebook that are just a broken record of the same thing. Advertising what they’re doing in a sense. Not the same people I grew up with. There needs to be a transparency to an extent, business or otherwise! Great first post for P52!

Picture of Lea

Name Lea

Date Jan 04
02:35 PM

@Kenny I think one of the reasons for that is that people forget that the internet is “real life.” As if the rules of conversation and engagement magically disappear once it’s rendered in HTML. I mean, if people verbalized some of their updates face-to-face, it may sound really embarrassingly robotic and inauthentic.

Excellent post! In this the digital age of I think a lot of us have forgotten to speak human. As for people caring about the rules, with your early adopters no rules be darned. With those new to the social media universe I would say the majority are hardened rule followers as that is what most sites are telling them they need to do to be successful.

Personality is memorable. And now I have the Cheez Whiz personality song stuck in my head.

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