How to participate in social media without being THAT guy

by Shannon Paul on November 9, 2008

slide02A few months ago, I wrote a post about that guy that seemed to resonate with a lot of people involved in social media. For those not familiar with the concept, that guy is generally someone who jumps into social media engagement with the sole purpose of broadcasting his (or her) message at everyone they encounter.

My experience, as well as shared experiences from other smart people tells me that this is not the best way to generate genuine interest in your content/website/company/client amongst others in social networks.

If I want to give others a reason to be interested in my content, the best way is to engage in conversations in social networks by posting comments on others’ content (without self promotion) and promoting others‘ content through links.

Yesterday I gave a presentation at the first-ever Podcamp Michigan about the value of participation in building your network through social media and I thought I would share the presentation with you here. Please, let me know what you think.

How to participate in social media without being THAT guy

View more presentations from shannonpaul.

Clearly, from the presentation, I feel as if commenting and linking to other peoples’ content is the best way to generate genuine interest in who you are and what you’re working on. What do you think?

By the way, I can’t say enough good things about these people, or their work:

Amber Naslund

Ann Handley

Beth Harte

David Mullen

Mack Collier

Liz Strauss

Jason Falls

Shannon Nelson

Karen Swim

Call it gratuitous link love; I don’t care. This list is by no means exhaustive. I could go on… seriously.

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{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

November 10, 2008 davidmullen 1

I’m humbled to be included in such amazing company. Seriously those are some fine folks on that list.

When it comes to participating in online communities, it’s definitely better to give than to receive. Here’s what it al comes down to for me – be a good neighbor.

If I moved into your neighborhood and stood in my driveway with a megaphone shouting about how great a neighbor I am, you’d get turned off pretty quickly. Not long after, I’m sure I’d get a letter from the Homeowners Association, too. And rightfully so.


November 10, 2008 Micah Baldwin 2

Great presentation. I think that we (social media folks) talk a lot about engaging community and involving oneself in the conversation, but we assume that passion is a given.

The best way to not be “That Guy” (take it from a douchebag who knows), is to be passionate, honest and open.

The rest just falls into place.


November 10, 2008 nicklucido 3

You are 100 percent on. You can’t just post crap to flatter yourself. For me, the most successful strategy to garner comments is not necessarily content, but reaching out to other bloggers and communicating with them.

Nice slideshow, btw!


November 10, 2008 Rosy Villa 4

Great post! Communicating with others is important to me. It gives us the chance to know eachother on a more personal level.


November 10, 2008 John Leschinski 5

Great presentation Saturday. Best of the bunch, hope you can make it out to Podcamp Toronto.


November 10, 2008 David Benjamin 6

While I wasn’t able to make this Podcamp, I appreciate you sharing your presentation. I agree with this post and get frustrated when ‘that guy’ ends up being every one in five people. With all that is good with the rise of social media’s presence, we’ll always find those that attempt to abuse strickly for their own profit. I don’t see this being a great long term strategy!


November 10, 2008 Karen Swim 7

Shannon, thank you for listing my name with so many that I admire and respect. At the top of that list should have been your own name. You demonstrate daily all that is wonderful about social media. I loved the presentation. The images of children were brilliant for they represent the innocence of relationships. We can learn so much by watching how children engage one another. They begin with a foundation of acceptance and curiosity. We would do well to follow that lead. Thanks for sharing the presentation Shannon. I hope to be at the next one live and in person!


November 10, 2008 Dirk Singer 8

A great post as always and thank you for sharing your presentation!


November 10, 2008 annhandley 9

Thank you for including me, Shannon. I’m honored both by the company and by your vote of confidence.

BTW, “I’m not THAT guy” is a great social media tshirt, yes?

; )


November 10, 2008 davidmullen 10

@annhandley – “I’m not THAT guy!” would be a great t-shirt. I’d buy one, for sure!


November 10, 2008 Hubert 11

I find myself dealing with once being “that guy” – when I used to promote concerts and remembering how cheap, impersonal and unfulfilling it would make me feel as all I did was pass out flyers to people I didn’t know – and realizing how much time I wasted.
It is obvious that the best way to build relationships is through genuine interaction. Back in my show-promoting days, the guys that had the most well-attended shows were the ones that knew the most people and were sorta liked by them. The thing is, it takes a long time to build rapports with so many people as the same can be said in social media. At the end of the day, I believe it’s worth it.

Glad to meet you at Podcamp this weekend. I wish you could have witnessed “that guy” early in the day, who just passed around his business card and left after the first presentation. I am still amused by that!


November 10, 2008 shannonpaul 12

@davidmullen – megaphones definitely have no place in social media. :)

@Micah – I’ve only heard good things about you, so I’m having a hard time believing you to be a douchebag. :) Being passionate, honest and open seems like great advice for anyone.

@nick – I am so glad to know you. You are one of the most impressive connectors I know and you’re still in college! I can’t wait to see what you’re up to in a couple of years.

@Rosy – Thank you. I enjoy communicating with you very much here and on Twitter. :)

@John – Thanks! I hope to be there, too! It was great meeting you and several others from the London, ONT crew.

@David – I’m sorry you couldn’t make it to Podcamp. I think you’re right. People that focus solely on profits or driving traffic to themselves do not benefit in the long run. People run out of patience for those types pretty quickly.

@Karen – I really can’t wait to meet you. I’m glad you liked the babies. :) I wanted to approach the subject in a light manner. You’re always such an inspiration — I can’t wait to meet you in person either.

@Dirk – Thanks to you, sir!

@Ann – I think it would be a good social media t-shirt. I also like “I’m with *that* guy—>” But, I think Amber Naslund has the best social media t-shirt idea ever: “click on my junk”.

@Hubert – I think you provide a great example with your experience. Building relationships takes patience that so many people looking for self promotion don’t really have. It was great meeting you, too finally. I hope to continue to see you around. :)


November 10, 2008 Kyle Studstill 13

I think the biggest takeaway that we seem to be saying lately is that we’ve all got a keen eye for self-promotion – we can see it clearly in the guy passing out flyers, and we see it even more clearly in the social media space. Especially for those of us who grew up as natives to online conversations, who have seen every self-promoting trick in the book to date.

There will be more, for sure, but authentic interest in real conversations out there is so much more meaningful. How unfortunate that there’s so much conversation out there on “how to monetize what would otherwise be authentic conversation.”

Great thoughts, thanks for sharing!

…haha also, I got a good laugh out of “click on my junk”


November 10, 2008 Amber Naslund 14


You just plain rock. First of all, I think we have a t-shirt biz in the making here. Second, I’m honored not only to be in the company you cited, but to be a part of what YOU are doing. Your presentation is spot on. I’m giving a talk this week along many of the same lines, and it’s amazing how many people still look at me with surprise when I suggest that promo of OTHER people is a great way to build a community. :)

Thanks, as always, for keeping it real.



November 10, 2008 Injury Lawyer 15

Hi. I got this Mixx from Benny Greenberg. Great read and I am gonna use it to help get clients. Thanks.


November 10, 2008 mack collier 16

Shannon thank you SO much for mentioning me, especially in the company of so many smarter people! And I loved your presentation and LOVED that you called out broadcasters!

You are my hero!

PS: Where is the VIDEO of this amazing presentation?!?


November 10, 2008 Emily 17

Proud of you for this, friend. Love the presentation and can only imagine how dynamic you were in person. Wish I could have seen it!


November 10, 2008 Cheryl Smith 18

Terrific presentation! I’m only sorry I wasn’t there to see it in person.

Reminding people to participate in the conversation is key. I particularly liked the comments as conversation slide. Brogan does it well. Liz does it well. McCray does it well. Jon Swanson and Carlos Whit do it well also. As do you!


November 10, 2008 Cory O'Brien 19

Great deck! Love the use of babies to get the point across. Cute, and effective!

I definitely agree that if you want to participate in social media, the emphasis needs to be on the social part, not the media part. It’s not just another channel of media to spit out your message on; it’s an entirely new framework to work within, where relationships are more important than the occasional chance to broadcast, and comments are king.


November 10, 2008 Stacy Lukas 20

Nice slides, though I’m still bummed I missed 80% of PodCamp, including your presentation. I never got the memo — obviously they were filming it, any word on when it’ll all be up on the web? I’m looking forward to watching it all online… with popcorn.

Re: “that guy” — When I worked in music, we always referred to “that guy” as the dude who always went to a concert wearing his favorite t-shirt of that same band, as if by his mere presence at the show didn’t already indicate he was a fan. Thinking about it now, he’d probably be “that guy” in social media, too.


November 10, 2008 Josh Sternberg 21

It’s like a giant love-fest going on. Great to see community.

It’s funny when you meet “that guy” outside of social media and they are truly “that guy.” I used to work for someone like that…self-promotion over company’s goals…and am glad to be out of that place. If people were to not always be selling (whether it’s ideas or products or whatever) and just be, I think the PR world would greatly benefit. Just my 2 cents. Then again, by posting a response and blogging and getting involved in social media, aren’t we all “that guy?”


November 11, 2008 Paul Baiguerra 22

Love it. Gently educating clients to not be ‘that guy’ is a big part of the job. Especially when they are soooo used to broadcasting – it DOES sometimes feels like dealing with naughty children (‘what do you mean you e-mailed a promotional offer…again?’).

Snazzy e-book title perhaps?

Count me in for a t-shirt.


November 11, 2008 Deb 23

Thanks for explaining my affinity for the social media folk out of my own field of organization development, which, in a nutshell, is all about relationships. When I work in an organization, it’s about roles, goals, procedures, yada yada…and relationships, and the last becomes first. In an evolving way, social media defines new, evolving organizations to which community managers defy any type of traditional view of management. Thanks again for the thoughtful post and sharing your wealth including your respected community of colleagues. This is a gem. –D


November 12, 2008 Andrea Ness 24

Hi Shannon, great post! Looking forward to hearing you speak on Friday at the CMPRSA Professional Development event.

P.S. Cute slides. As a new mom they really pull on the heart strings.


November 13, 2008 Rob Gould 25

Great post that I will share with colleagues. You bring up a very important fact for marketers that most have a very difficult time accepting. It isn’t effective, or smart, to walk up to a stranger and introduce yourself by way of a sales pitch. Not usually warmly received. Why should this be different when connecting via social media?


November 17, 2008 Beth Harte 26

Hi Shannon, sorry to be late with a major thank you here! THANK YOU! I am honored to be listed with such great company. And thank you for being such a wonderful instigator of great conversation!

By the way, I, too, want a t-shirt! But I want to be “Not THAT Girl.” ;-) [Gals make the same mistakes as "that guy."]


December 23, 2008 Todd Smith 27

This has been my experience too. The more I comment on and get interested in other’s blogs, the more comments I get on mine. It’s an old social law, online or offline, that giving is the basis of receiving.


December 31, 2008 Mark 28

Interesting, I found this from another link as well. It is better to give then receive is the foundation of social networking. Nice perspective.


April 16, 2010 Accident Lawyer 29

You just plain rock. First of all, I think we have a t-shirt biz in the making here. Second, I’m honored not only to be in the company you cited, but to be a part of what YOU are doing. Your presentation is spot on. I’m giving a talk this week along many of the same lines, and it’s amazing how many people still look at me with surprise when I suggest that promo of OTHER people is a great way to build a community. :)


May 28, 2010 Injury Attorney 30

I love reading blogs and posting comments. If I like the read.


June 12, 2010 Accident Lawyer 31

what a great video presentation and a wonderful treat. If there is anything that I’ve learned about social media, is to be involved it is important to participate in others blogs, contribute thoughts and opinions and develop your own following. Great job!


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