Posted by: Jo Duxbury | 17 February 2011

Social media and manners: Mutually exclusive?

I’ve got to get something off my chest. Frankly, rather than writing a blog post, I’d prefer to poke a few people in the eye. And I don’t mean a virtual, Facebook-style poke. Let me explain…

Please note that this is my personal (OK, professional, but in my own capacity) blog and what I say in this post is purely my own opinion and has absolutely nothing to do with Habari.

I spent this morning at the Habari/ADvantage Facebook Connects event in Sandton. Because Peppermint Source does a lot of content strategy and management work for Domino, Habari’s freshly minted (see what I did there?) social media division, they asked me if I’d speak about content strat on Domino’s behalf. Which I agreed to quite readily, although had second thoughts when I saw who else would be speaking – two people with impressive titles from Facebook as well as senior people from respected local agencies. Eek. Anyway, turns out my four solid days of preparation and two run-throughs paid off and my presentation was pretty well received and generated some potential work (and a new fan/stalker). Excellent.

What got on my nerves though was some of the tweets that were flapping around during the session. People criticising the event for ‘being social media 101’ and ‘nothing new’. One person tweeted about walking out due to boredom; all others could moan about was that they don’t care about anything except Places launching in SA. And so it went on – by a small group of people who’d clearly put on their grumpy pants this morning. I have seen this sort of negativity at so many industry events and it makes me mad. You know what? Bitching does not make you look cool and clever and like someone I’d want to work with – it makes you look juvenile, shallow, ungrateful and unprofessional. Frankly.

People, did your mothers never tell you (a)  if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all and (b) don’t look a gift horse in the mouth? I’m guessing that Habari would appreciate your feedback and suggestions so they can make future events even better, but for heaven’s sake, whatever happened to giving balanced criticism constructively, and saying it politely? (Some tweets were like this and they stood out.) Losing the word ‘FAIL’ would be a good start.

As for the gift horse, did you pay to attend Facebook Connects? No. Did you help out at all with the organisation of the day, securing speakers, managing the venue and delegates, organising giveaways, etc.? No, didn’t think so. Have you offered to give a talk next time that would kick today’s presentations into touch? Hmm? What was that?

There are always people who will find fault with things. Had all the presentations been intergalactically super-stellar and checked all the perfect-presentation boxes, someone would no doubt have bitched about the airconditioning, or the colour of the carpet, or that they only got ONE free mousemat and pen. Fortunately the grumpy pants brigade is usually a minority. There were also plenty of positive tweets about how ‘we need more events like this’; that it was ‘brilliant’ and ‘what a great event today’ – people hoping for more to come in future. Personally I really enjoyed it and loved meeting new, interesting people and reconnecting with others.

Late in the day, Mike Sharman (who was funny, interesting and pleasant in person when I met him briefly today), tweeted this:

“Let’s be honest here for a second. What do agencies think of @habarimedia‘s association with Facebook #facebookconnects ?”

Well, Mike, I’ll tell you what my little agency thinks of the association: Flipping impressive. Habari have pulled off a major coup in securing exclusivity with Facebook on various levels for advertising in South Africa. They are in touch with FB constantly and in the absence of a FB office here, Habari are SA’s go-to team for the latest developments on the platform. And they have set up these Facebook Connects events to share their knowledge, Facebook’s own staff’s perspectives and international and local case studies with the SA industry – for free. Not to mention the mousemats and pens. Any ‘agencies’ who think this isn’t impressive are likely sucking on sour grapes.

So, all you Grumpy Pantsters, next time you are attending an event you haven’t had to pay for (NetProphet, Silicon Cape, Heavy Chef and similar), that other people have put hours, money and resources into to deliver to you, try not to resort to picking holes in it as your default setting. Look for the good things. Listen to what’s being said rather than tweeting about how you can’t get onto the wifi (maybe you missed the announcement of the access code because you were too busy tweeting about how bad the traffic was).

Be supportive of successes. If you have feedback and suggestions, do share them but do so constructively and politely. It’ll do wonders for your own personal brand too. Social media and manners need not be mutually exclusive.



  1. Hi Jo. I would have loved to attend the event even if it simply filled in a few knowledge gaps or offered a networking experience.

    It’s sad though that there are so many people out there with a platform on which to bitch… just because they have fingers they feel they have to use them to tweet.

    Perhaps organisers should anticipate this and suggest that if people have feedback, they should use a specific private channel so they are heard by those who can actually do something about it.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by IrcMaidon and JoDuxbury, Charles Stroud. Charles Stroud said: RT @JoDuxbury: Are social media and manners mutually exclusive? My take on yesterday's #facebookconnects […]

  3. Thanks Jo,

    My question was posed as an attempt to gain insight into the relationship that Habari has with Facebook and how agency contacts that I respect, have been serviced in the past by Habari.

    I don’t know much about Habari.

    Both @adrianhewlett and @GarthRhoda from Habari have subsequently been in touch with me via calls and twitter, respectively. They are going to setup a coffee session to explain the relationship and how they can help me help my clients – WIN.

    I have given them my constructive criticism directly. Yes, I think they did a fantastic job in putting together yesterday’s event, and my disappointment lies with the Facebook reps themselves.

    Clients of Brandsh / Native, such as those from Standard Bank, who I know personally, loved the FB presentations, but from an agency perspective, Facebook failed to deliver any *real* insight for me, personally. The confirmation of Facebook ‘having no plans to setup an office in South Africa’ or even committing to the launch date of Places is indicative of its attitude towards SA.

    I’d prefer to have agency-specific sessions sans clients at future events, but I appreciate budget/time constraints, and the logistics of having separate content for agencies and clients.

    That’s my 2c…

  4. Well written Jo, right on the money! We’re all very keen to create our own success stories but looking for faults in every nook & cranny is obviously not going to put us on the pathway to Social Media success. Everyone wants Facebook Places to launch ‘yesterday’ yet they have had very little success with the tools currently available to them! Without a robust Social Media Strategy in place and learning the ‘art of social engagement’, you can have the best social platform in the world (such as Facebook) and yet you’ll still never really achieve the success you desire, because you’ll always be chasing then next best tool…

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