Monday, May 22, 2017

Keeping Social Media Personal

by Bethany Jett @BetJett

Have you ever gotten excited when someone you admired friended you on Facebook, retweeted you on Twitter, or asked to be a connection on LinkedIn? For at least one millisecond, that person knew your name.

There were times I was so thrilled that I printed out screenshots for my smash book, which is simply a fun way to scrapbook without trying. It’s a nice feeling.

Unless the only reason they followed you, liked you, or friended you was to spam you.

Recently, a pretty famous person (fake name: Mark) reached out to me on a social media site. We had a few friends in common, so if this person was looking to grow his following, it made sense that my name could have appeared in mutual friends lists. After a little investigating to see if this was a real account, I accepted.

Mark sent me a short and sweet, probably templated message.

I sent one back, even shorter, naming a high-profile friend we had in common, and commenting about an event happening in this person’s life. 

Thus far, Mark’s social media strategy worked perfectly. Because he clicked a request button and wrote a few sentences, I was now one step closer to the coveted “raving fan” status.

I gave no reason for Mark to reply and yet, the next day, a reply showed up in my inbox.

The message was terribly written, completely canned, and totally ignorant of the point of social media networking.

Mark’s response included nothing about the friend I’d mentioned; our one commonality. Instead, he focused on himself only when he ignored my response and asked me to support his project and share it with my friends.

I felt like I’d friended the sorta-stranger who has several mutual friends who instantly posts their products to your timeline and adds you to a million party groups.  

Really, Mark?

I expected a whole lot more from someone of his celebrity status. And that’s when I realized something.

Mark wasn’t monitoring his social media accounts.

Some assistant was replying in Mark’s name, which is why there was no reference to our mutual friend. Mr. Assistant couldn’t respond because he didn’t know our friend.  

One simple addition to Mark’s message would have changed everything. If he (or the assistant) had acknowledged our common friend, I’d have already put my money where my mouth is by supporting his project, sharing it on my social channels, and praising his example of using his clout to make a connection with people who already knew who he was.

Mark’s request had the opposite effect than what he intended. The online world may be a virtual relationship, but it’s still a relationship, and until we treat the people on the other side of the screen just like we would treat them if they were sitting at our kitchen table, then we’re doing social media wrong.

And this was wrong. And it made me mad.

This is an important lesson I’ve tucked into my heart. Friending, following, retweeting, and connecting with people online is fine. Choosing a targeted demographic is fine. But it’s how you interact with the people on the other side of the screen that’s important.

There are real people behind those usernames and profile pictures. They deserve to be treated better than just a number in your following list.

Take a minute and look at people’s bio’s. Do you have something in common? Send a quick tweet to the person. If someone responds to your status, comment back. And please, stop the auto Direct Messages and truly read and interact with people when they reach out to you. Your social media accounts are one big dinner party and you are the host of your accounts. Be gracious, be kind, and above all, keep it personal.


Bethany Jett is a military wife and homeschool boy-mom who is addicted to suspense novels and all things girly. She is an award-winning author, speaker, ghostwriter, and founder of JETTsetter Ink. In her spare time, Bethany is working on her Masters degree in Marketing: New Media and Communication.

Bethany writes on living brilliant at Connect with her on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.


  1. Had a similar experience recently - might have even been the same person. And I responded just as you did. First, excitement and a personal reply. Then, disappointment at the request which was clearly the only reason for the connection. And no, I didn't publicly support his project through my social media accounts either - for the same reason. Had this person (or his assistant) made the effort to connect and build relationships before he needed the favor, I might have responded differently.
    Powerful lesson and reminder to me about how I relate to people on social media!

    1. It was a lesson for sure! Thanks for sharing your story!

  2. Great reminder of how to act on social media!