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.

 

 

Sins of the Tweeter

I am not the be-all, end-all when it comes to social media. I should have made you sit down before breaking that bit of news, shouldn’t I? Such a shock isn’t good for the heart.

Anyway, while I’m no expert and have only a few hundred followers, Twitter is my favorite form of getting social. Trying to communicate a pithy thought in 140 characters or less is a constant exercise in effective writing, and I love the interactions I have over there.

I’m not here to give a lecture on Twitter etiquette because I am still learning some of that myself. But here are some big sins I try to avoid.

Only tweeting links to blog posts. It’s a rookie mistake. When I see an account that consists entirely of blog posts directly publicized by the blog host, I assume it’s someone kind of new to Twitter. Potential followers want to know who we are, they want to connect. It’s hard to interact with a list of links. Tweet the link for sure, but in between, talk to other people. Find some other folks with similar interests to talk to.

Tweeting almost exclusively from other social media. It is frustrating to follow someone whose tweets consist only of status updates from Facebook that are a few teaser words followed by a Facebook link. If you’re not engaged, it’s okay to leave. When I realized my only Facebook status updates were my tweets, I dumped Facebook. Engage in social media you enjoy. Writers are supposed to build platforms, but it’s not really building much of a community if we aren’t really plugged in there. Doing one site well is better than half-hearted engagement in several.

Oversharing. Followers want the link to that latest post. It’s part of why they follow us in the first place. But check your Publicize settings and be aware of how it is tweeting. It is frustrating to see six identical links within seconds of each other because sharing to one site automatically triggers all of them to tweet. Unsure if followers are getting multiple tweets? Check your “me” feed.

Using Twitter to artificially build a blog following. In recent years, I encountered one blogger whose following soared into the tens of thousands within a year. They were even interviewed and asked how they did it. Of course the answer was “I write well.” But here’s the secret. If a WordPress blog is set to post to Twitter, those followers are counted on the blog as well. So this individual spent weeks and months following everyone they could find. Many of those people followed them back. Then, the blogger in question quietly unfollowed those same tens of thousands of people. At first glance, they appear to be wildly popular. In reality, they’re just kind of sneaky. Illegal, no. Dishonest, you bet.

Using Twitter apps incorrectly. There are several apps out there that let you know who followed and unfollowed. Such information can be valuable in helping direct your content. If you see a sharp increase in followers after a post on women’s rights, for example, you can plan similar posts in the future. If followers suddenly drop off, you know to take a look at what may have turned readers off.

Used incorrectly, these apps can make tweeters look insecure and needy. Unless an unfollower is a close friend, it is inappropriate to contact them to ask them why they left. Not everyone is going to like us. It’s okay. Let it go.

Including the entire world in every conversation. I once followed someone and could not for the life of me figure out why I was seeing their conversations with people I do not follow. The reason? This tweeter was moving the Twitter handle to the end of their tweet so their conversation was visible to all of their followers. This move is the equivalent of talking loudly on a cell phone in the middle of a restaurant. Few of us have business so interesting that everyone wants to be a part of it. Equally sinful is putting a period in front of their handle so it looks like you’re talking just to them, but it still goes to everybody else.

Shameless plagiarism. I was recently followed out of the blue by an account with 90K followers. I read their profile, and they seemed harmless, so I followed them back. Then I noticed their tweets looked familiar. Yesterday, I read a distinctively worded tweet that I had read (and favorited) a year ago by someone completely different. This account was not simply retweeting. They were claiming the material as their own. Listen, if it’s rampant plagiarism and copyright infringement I’m after, I’ll visit Pinterest. Retweet if you love something. Nobody loves a copycat. In fact, not only do I unfollow those, I block them as well. No free material from me!

So now you know what I do not like in Twitter accounts that I follow. How about what I love? I love thought-provoking and entertaining tweeters who at least sometimes engage in interaction with their followers.

What are the biggest Twitter sins in your opinion? What did I miss?

 

Twitter is my very favorite way to follow blogs. Feel free to leave your handle in the comments!

 

I Got Dumped

photo courtesy of busytrade.com. Because I don't take pictures of my trash

I don’t know what happened. Yesterday you were a part of my life, pretty as you please. And today, poof, you are gone. Vanished from my life completely like a thief in the night. And it hurts. Is it me? I’ll never know. Because you dumped me, severed our tenuous connection. That’s right. You quit following me on Twitter.

I’ve been learning all about social media recently as an effort to promote the things that I am doing. I avoided Twitter for a long time, mostly because of the lingo. Hashtags don’t sound like something a Christian should be involved with. I gathered my courage and jumped in this week, and this is the thanks I get. I was so proud of building some followers, and then I got up this morning and discovered you were gone. I am devastated. I wish I knew which one you were.

Were you the girl who added me under my old user name (cheapthrills03) thinking that I might enjoy reading about your drunken, drug-addled romp with your married boss? Actually, such a parting might not be bad for either of us, as we obviously have different interests. But what if it wasn’t you? And what if you actually read this. Should I just go ahead and say goodbye now? Do I send a card?

Were you the guy who tweets about the fabulous software that you have created. That no one has ever heard of? Or the girl who was looking for a good time? I am a fun person. We could play Monopoly, or even watch Harry Potter! Or are you the one who wants to sell me penis enlargement pills? Don’t let my lack of such an appendage come between us. We can work it out!

Or are you the lady that I was following myself. The one who found me in the bushes outside her house? I am so very, very sorry about that. I am really new to Twitter, and I got a little confused. I now know the difference between “following” and “stalking.” My bad. Please accept my apologies and a new azalea to replace the one I squashed. And the private investigator will no longer be parked outside your place of business. Restraining orders are handy little things, no?

Anyway. If you are out there, my long, lost cyber-soul mate, please look me up. I miss you. And I’ve got a telemarketer friend you might really like, too. She’ll be calling in a couple of hours. We can all hang out and go get our nails done or something. Follow me!