How NOT to use so­cial net­works

Hav­ing spent some time look­ing af­ter T3’s Face­book page, our man has some tips for any­one run­ning or us­ing so­cial me­dia…

Australian T3 - - CONTENTS -

Truth by Dun­can Bell

So… What is up with so­cial net­works, on­line mes­sage boards and any­where else people may elec­tron­i­cally leave what they like to loosely de­scribe as their “thoughts”? And why aren’t these people do­ing some­thing more use­ful with their time, like end­lessly turn­ing over a piece of paper with “PLEASE TURN OVER” writ­ten on both sides? Or wank­ing into a sock?

Those were the thoughts I had re­cently while act­ing as a sort-of “ad­min” for the Face­book page of this very mag.

How­ever, af­ter length­ier de­lib­er­a­tion, I re­alised that the is­sues our page had were not solely the fault of drunk and lonely mas­tur­ba­tors with dys­lexia and so­ciopa­thy.

I con­fess: we had ne­glected the page. We had left our so­cial gar­den un­tended. We were just ca­su­ally toss­ing news through the back win­dow into its over­grown fronds, fail­ing to no­tice it had be­come an ugly place, where home­less people had taken to “do­ing their busi­ness” amidst the hog­weed and bram­bles.

So from this I gleaned some im­por­tant rules to fol­low if you’re run­ning a so­cial net­work. The Ten Com­mand­ments, if you like. Or, for rea­sons of space and my waffly writ­ing style, The Four Com­mand­ments.

First up, thou shalt very strictly ban swear­ing, and delete com­ments that “bring the foul­ness”. If you walk into a pub where the air is be­ing turned blue with ver­bal filth, you walk straight out, right? Web­sites are the same. But yea ver­ily, I make one ex­cep­tion, which is that if the swear­ing is funny, it is okay. Louis CK, yes. Bus-stop loony, no.

Num­ber two: to en­gage thy au­di­ence and lever­age thine “reach” in a very real sense, do NOT con­clude posts with yes/no ques­tions. I swear I once saw a thread that did so and the only three replies un­der­neath were lit­er­ally, “Yes”, “No” and “Maybe”.

Nu­mero, er, three: thou shalt talk to thy read­ers. But thou shoudst not pan­der to them (okay, I’m go­ing to stop us­ing this cod-Bi­b­li­cal lan­guage now). En­gage with funny or thought­ful posts, most cer­tainly. But also gird your loins to point out flaws in the rea­son­ing of ones that have been left by people that are wrong. Be­cause, you see, even the most seem­ingly men­tal posters of­ten sud­denly be­come far more rea­son­able if you re­spond – the sheer shock of be­ing replied to cheers them up no end, I think.

And fi­nally, the two cast-iron, dead­cert ways to get a good “de­bate” go­ing. One, put up a photo of Tony Ab­bott. Two, quote any­thing that com­pares iOS and An­droid. Just stand ready to carry out Com­mand­ment One as soon as you hit “post” in that case.

And that, read­ers, brings me to The One Com­mand­ment of post­ing on other people’s Face­book pages, mes­sage boards, etc: don’t be a dick. But more on that an­other time…

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