How To Apologize Online

Your comprehensive guide to issuing an apology when you have upset someone online, be it Facebook, Twitter, or an email to dear Aunt Sally. Study it. Memorize it. There will be a test later.

Apologize? Me? Heh.

  1. Be online.
  2. Make a mistake. This is not difficult. If you have covered #1, you are guaranteed to say something stupid/misinformed/offensive.
  3. Become aware of your mistake. This one isn’t all that hard, either. If a dozen experts (or even ONE) on a subject presents a counter-argument, there’s a chance you are wrong. Maybe do research at this point.
  4. Grow a pair. Pair could refer to whatever thing you associate with courage. Could be kittens for all I care. Just get you some courage.
  5. Say these words: “You were right.” or “I was wrong.” Use these phrases together for additional sincerity.
  6. Also say these words: : “I am sorry.” Another variation could be “I apologize.” Yes. This step is necessary. I know. You already said #5. I know. Just say you’re sorry.
  7. Demonstrate that you are, in fact, sorry. Do accomplish this task, you should say, well, nothing. Don’t say anything at all.
  8. Continue to say nothing. I know. You just wanted to explain tha-

Just stop it. Seriously. Stop talking. Stop trying to make everyone understand how wonderful you are and how you are being misunderstood. Just stop talking.

9. Say even less than you did in #8. Remember #5? You were stupid/offensive/misinformed. You were. You. I’m looking at you. I know you said sorry. But sorry doesn’t fix stuff immediately. If I eat your pet canary, a simple apology doesn’t make Tweety any less dead. There will be some grief, some anger, perhaps a tiny little funeral to arrange, and it’s likely you don’t want to see me again for a while. Maybe not ever. Some stakes are higher than others.

10. Make your peace with the fact that not everyone is going to like you. Actually, this should be #1, but it’s the one we all tend to blow off, so I buried it here so you wouldn’t ignore it. I’m tricky like that. The hardest part about this one is understanding that in this case, people are in the not-liking phase of you because of something you did. Ouch. Reflect on it. Sit with it.

11. Read the responses. Not to your apology.  I mean the responses to your original mistake. Understand not just that people ARE upset, but get to the heart of WHY. If you don’t make an effort to learn the why, you are pretty much guaranteed to repeat your error, and that’s bad. This part’s hard because the instinct is to argue more or to tuck our tails and RUN. Do not attempt to answer until you are strong enough to respond ONLY with the words “I understand,” “I am sorry,” “You are right,” or “I was wrong.” You will feel like your brain is on fire and your eyeballs are melting, but I promise you will live.

12. Come to grips with the most painful realization in the world: Not everyone cares  what you think.

13. Do better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Blogger’s Guide to Social Media: Twitter

Of all the social media out there, my heart belongs to Twitter. I like its concise format – no giant walls of text to plow through. Twitter’s reach is better than Facebook’s. Anything you tweet will show up in the timelines of those who want it to. End of story. Here’s how to make Twitter work for you as a blogger.

This post isn’t so much about how to achieve a million followers. That part is easy. Follow 2 million people. Statistically speaking, about half of them will follow you back. There you go. This post is more about how to use Twitter to make connections and promote your blog.

For those who are completely new to Twitter, here’s how it works. Follow people, and then their tweets will show up in your feed. A blue check mark beside someone’s name means they are a verified famous person, though  I can’t guarantee you’ll have heard of them. You can use the Publicize feature on WordPress blogs to automatically send a tweet with a link each time you publish a post.

Don’t know whom to follow? Twitter can help. They offer suggestions based on those you have followed before and on the preferences of those followers. It’s pretty much the same algorithm Facebook uses. Sometimes it’s spot on, sometimes it’s not. I’d like to say the more you use it, the better it gets, but that would be wrong.  “You followed a field biologist? Here’s another one for you. And another! You could follow ALL of them! No? You want field biologist who study frogs, not beetles? TOO BAD! You like rock bands? Here’s a geologist for you.” It’s all kinds of fun. But once you get started, you’ll find some peeps.

When I am on the prowl for people to follow,  I look for:

An active feed. Sometimes people take a break from the internet. That’s no big deal. But if I look at someone’s feed and see that they seem to tweet only once every six months or so, I’m probably not going to give them a follow. On Twitter, I’m looking for the potential for interaction, so unless I know them personally, I’ll probably skip them.

Varied content. I read a formula somewhere that explained the ratio of original tweets to retweeted stuff. I then promptly forgot it because that’s what I do with formulas. But the general idea is this – a Twitter feed  should ideally be a mix of links to your blog posts, conversation with other Tweeters, and retweets (also known as RT) of other people’s stuff. A timeline that contains only tweets linking back to a blog doesn’t tell me much about the account holder. If they’re new to Twitter, I might follow them anyway. Someone who tweets only reviews of their books and the Amazon links to purchase them get skipped. I have definitely bought books (and music) from people I’ve discovered on Twitter, but that’s usually only after I get to know how they present themselves.

Use photos judiciously. Many people do not love pics on Twitter. (click to enlarge)

Use photos judiciously. Many people do not love pics on Twitter. (click to enlarge)

An interesting bio. Be personable. And humble. If you’ve published a book, say so, but don’t belabor it. I prefer it when a writer links me to their website, not to Amazon. If you tell me the title(s) or have images of your titles as part of your header, I can find your work. There’s a place to link your blog, too. Be sure to do so.

Conversation. I mentioned this under varied content, but it’s important enough to warrant a bullet of its own. Conversation tells me a few things. It shows that a tweeter is engaged on the site, and it gives me a clue how they interact with others.

Spelling. I don’t care if a tweeter makes spelling errors. We’ve all done it, and there’s no way to edit without deleting the tweet and starting over. I will not, however, follow someone whose tweets are composed entirely using text-speak. My preference is in no way universal. Lots of people don’t care. But using it too often will pretty clearly define your demographic for you and limit your reach.

A respectable number in the “following” column. Sometimes I come across accounts that have a number of people following, but not so many that are being followed. I like ratios that are fairly even, give or take twenty percent, unless they are a legitimate celebrity. Refusing to follow other people maybe means Twitter isn’t the best fit for them. Tweeps want at least a little interaction.

Twitter is a useful tool and a pretty fun place once you get the hang of it. It’s more like speed-dating than an engagement, so don’t feel too badly if you lose a follower here and there.

I wrote a post about Twitter a while back that contains some of my Twitter pet peeves. You can find it here.

What do you like to see in a Twitter timeline? I’m @becomingcliche over there.

I’ll be offline for a few days. I’m having minor hand surgery on the morrow, so I may not get to comments as quickly as I usually do. I’ll be reading them, but unless I can convince my husband to be my personal scribe, I’ll be quiet for a bit.