Articles keep surfacing on various newsfeeds and in my Feedly regarding “what not to do on social media”. They always contain a misguided variation of don't abuse the hashtag, don't tweet too often, don't go days without posting, etc. and with the exception of, don't be abusive or hateful, I disagree. When a podcast spent an entire segment bashing the way people use social media, I decided to address the topic that routinely provokes an eye-roll. Social media is about expression, and self-expression should not be dictated by likes, followers, and if your hashtag use is on point. Let bygones be bygones and go on your merry little way.
Top Reasons Social Media Should Not Have Rules
1. It’s creative expression.
Is this person on social media an international brand? Probably not. (But even EY is a notorious hashtag buffoon.) They are probably trying to release some creative energy into the internet abyss and you are prohibiting their authenticity. If it’s annoying, unfollow. This may come as a shock, but some people don’t care if they have thousands of followers.
2. The ego knows no bounds.
If you have an app that tells you who unfollowed you this week, day, month, and then check it to decide who you, in turn, need to unfollow, get a hold of the ego. Unfollow for unfollow is just as annoying as #followforfollow or whatever it is that upsets you. Don't rain on someones parade.
3. Hashtags are hilarious.
There are things you want to say that become exponentially more hilarious in hashtag form. It’s extraordinarily bizarre, just like the new snapchat update. #zombiecomeback #jkpleasego
4. Hashtags are helpful.
This calls for a personal story. My dog is so wonderful that Princess Kate decided to name her firstborn after him, and so it makes sense he would have his own hashtag #georgethegreat. Now, whenever I just want to see his cute face, I search the hashtag on Instagram. It’s a modern-day social scrapbook. Professionally, I was able to market a conference on social media with a designated hashtag (#REX2013), which led the event to trend on Twitter, creating organic buzz, local awareness, and bragging rights.
5. Positivity is contagious.
If negative posts irk you, as they do me, then, just be positive. Negative responses to negative attitudes only breed more negativity. Let a person do what they want and be who they are, that’s what social media is all about. Unfollow and follow, tweet and re-tweet, like and share with abandon!
6. Inspiration is not guided by the masses.
If you post something first thing in the morning and then, on your way to work, you notice the most ironic situation. Post it! That's your moment. I've gone days without much social media activity, only to find myself in a whirlwind of social-media worth opportunities. As Mark Twain said, "You will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do, than by the things you did do." Post away, and create a narrative that is yours alone.
Disclaimer: Social media is a marketing force among brands, old and new, and they do have a bit more responsibility. However, I would argue that authenticity is appreciated when they step outside the marketing plan to show some #realtalk. (Although, I’d suggest a different hashtag, unless you’re the year 2010, in which case, can I get a do over?)