Monday, July 21, 2008

self promotions vs other relations

I got in a debate on Twitter today. It's about self-promotions vs. other relations (selfless altruisms).

I think most Twitter users consider self-promotions to be companies, authors, or other individuals who use Twitter primarily to push links to their blog posts or their ecommerce sites.

Self-promotions are not every single message that you put on Twitter. But if you wanted to cloak your commercial interests with broad, sweeping declarations like "All communications are sales persuasion" or "Everybody survives by tricking other people" or "Lying and domineering are natural", such reckless and untrue pronouncements might function as a ruse or diversion for a short while.

On Twitter, we know a self-promoter from a normal online community member who only occasionally promotes something, often not even their own stuff, but something they like.

"I ate a tuna salad sandwich" is not self-promotional, it's self-revealing. Many Twitter users like to reveal themselves and enjoy the revelations of others. That's part of being in an online social media community. There's not likey to be much benefit to unveiling personal trivia, unless, as in the case of the lunch item, you happen to own a string of Subway, Jimmie Johns, or Blimpie shops.

You technically "self-promote" when underlying your message is a motive to sell your products, services, or expertise. You enter into other-relations when you answer questions, provide links, solve problems, or render some benefit to another Twitter member, with no direct relationship to selling them something.

Doing nice things for other people is generally considered PR at best, altruism at least. You are helping people. Will it result in good will and future sales? Perhaps. But if not, the selfless person will continue to provide benefit to others. The more purely self-promotional person probably will cease from, or drastically reduce, altruistic acts that don't seem to accrue any financial or reputational gain for them.

We on Twitter are sensitive to the term "self-promotion" because it has come to signify a person who is selfishly refusing to interact with other Twitter members, due to the sole concern to hype blog posts or product pages. A "self-promoter" on Twitter is generally Following very few, but has a lot of Followers because they're a famous book author, marketing guru, or business leader.

When a Twitter user helps, advises, flirts with, entertains, or shares something with another Twitter user, we don't typically call that "self-promotional" in the marketing sense. But altruistic assistance will raise your neighbor-value, help your reputation, and increase your like-ability, thus enhancing trust and good will. Then, if you do have something to promote or sell, you have established a non-greedy side of your personality, which will make others feel a bit more at ease.
Being altruistic doesn't mean, as cynic might suggest, that you feel you're magnanimous, self-sacrificing, or "special". Sharing with others is a normal, natural, healthy functioning based on social reality. It's nice to help others and to let others help us. That's what's social about social media. We don't join social media networks to be bombarded with hype, ads, or sales messages.

We join social media networks to connect with others, for personal or professional reasons. Some motivations could be selfish and seeking to gain something, while other motivations may be based on the sheer joy of communicating and sharing with others.

Twitter Message 1

Aren't we all, in one way or another, promoting ourselves on Twitter? The act of blogging or micro-blogging is self promotion.

Twitter Reply (by me)

@briangenisio - Self promo means pushing links to product pages, blog posts, other sales or self-interest objects. Not altruistic sharing.

Twitter Reply (to me, by Brian Genisi0)

Self promotion means a lot more than what you said. Self promotion also means "promoting your ideas". Many others as well.

Twitter Reply (by me)

Self promotion is not "everything we do on Twitter". There are also selfless interactions and sharing that may not benefit you much at all.

Twitter Reply (to me, by Brian Genisio)

If you think that you are special enough to "altruistically share", then you are promoting your ego.

Twitter Reply (by me)

@BrianGenisio - If you think everything everyone does all the time is ultimately selfish, then you can also justify all acts as survival.

Twitter Reply (to me, by Brian Genisio)

Just to be clear, I never suggested that you are marketing. I also never used the word "everything". Those are your words.

Twitter Reply (by me)

Helping others on Twitter is not self-promotional, it is other-relational. We know the difference between mktg & helping.


Bilzmoude said...

I (Brian Genisio) am glad that you posted the entire debate. My original statement, which I stand by, was meant to be more of a reflection on our existence on Twitter... I really do understand what the Twitter community means when they say "Self Promotional". I was merely playing with it (the moral relativism of the topic), as my language clearly states.

When we, bloggers, tweeps, professionals and individuals make a blog post or tweet, we are essentially promoting ourselves in one way or another. It may not be in the sense that the Twitter community is referring to, but it certainly is by the meaning of the word. If you look up the word "promote" in the dictionary ( you will find that what I am saying is true in the first two meanings.

In order to be a member of a community (any community), one must promote themselves in some way... be it through helping others, casual conversation or spouting their opinions. If you do not promote yourself, you are ignored by the emergent ( community.

Further, a blog is a perfect example of promoting one's ego. I have two blogs -- one personal and a newer, more professional blog. I am not trying to say anything bad about promoting an ego... but instead I am trying to point out that if you are writing something that you think might be useful to others, your ego is being promoted by you -- thus "self promotion".

I urge you to look deeper into what I was saying and not think I am trying to compare you to a fembot on Twitter. I understand the difference.

steven edward streight said...

You define "self-promotion" in a special manner that extends its reach into simple friendliness, whereas on Twitter, "self-promotion" is generally restricted to a negative term, meaning "primarily hype, and not help".

Persistent self-promotion, with no or little interaction with others, on Twitter is seen as uncool exploitation with a commercial agenda.

Bilzmoude said...

I can't and never have disagreed with that. Again, I was being playful.