Five Things That Merit the Social Media Death Penalty

Although many of opined on this topic, every person has their own thinking on the most annoying – nay, downright maddening – behaviors in the world of social media that well, merit the social media death penalty.

By “death penalty,” I’ll leave it up to you to decide (adding a disclaimer that I am NOT endorsing you grabbing a gun and using it).  It could mean calling someone out on Twitter, Facebook or a blog post.  Worse yet, your egregious infractions could land you in the print media doghouse – like I did to me a year or so ago when I was an idiot.

So here’s my list of the Top Things that Merit the Social Media Death Penalty:

  1. Twitter trouble: I try to keep up on followers on Twitter.  If you are nice enough to follow me (and are not a spam bot which probably DOES merit the death penalty), I try to follow you back.  But sending me a DM right after that goes something like “Thanks for following me.  To get more eyeballs on your web site, get my advice HERE! ”
    Suggested punishment: Lifetime Twitter ban.
  2. Calling yourself a “guru.” If you call yourself a “guru,” there is 100% chance that you are an idiot.  In my experience, people who lavish praise on themselves are rarely deserving of it.  Plus, there are a bazillion gurus out there who are clogging the social media space and confusing people who actually need good social media counsel.
    Suggested punishment: Public humiliation. Note: When I was at Fleishman-Hillard, I remember getting ripped to shreds in a client meeting by a consultant that the client had brought in to manage us.  A “guru.”  With our alpha Web site on the screen, she tore into us.  Revenge?  I said “Ok, can you please show us an example of your work?” I kept pressing and finally we pulled up a Web site that looked like it was designed in 1990 by blind monkeys.  Touche.
  3. Facebook follies. If you “like” yourself on Facebook, you are a most likely and egocentric moron.  If you “like” your own blog post that you cross-post on Facebook, you are a double idiot.  Let others praise you (but if you are the one doing this, don’t hold your breath).
    Suggested punishment: One year ban from Facebook (accompanied by 40,000 volts of electricity delivered via your keyboard if you load the page).  Hell, the way that Facebook is going prying into people’s lives, this can’t be more than a couple of weeks away.
  4. Temper tantrums. For those of you who think this is a tantrum, feel free to publicly flog me.  But for this one, I am thinking of people of a particular prestige who engage in petty pissing matches with others.  And get personal.  And the winner and undisputed champion of this one is Jack O’Dwyer.  Last year, he got into a public flaming match with respected Waggener Edstrom over their refusal to pay for a listing on his compilation of top PR agencies by revenue.  And recently, he took on public relations measurement Queen Katie Payne.  Get over yourself, Jack.  Really.
    Suggested punishment:  Mass unsubscription of his service.
  5. Blogger hubris. There are plenty of bloggers out there whose egos far outstrip their accomplishments.  Their keyboards write checks that their online following cannot cash.  Hell, look at this blog and this post.  And me.
    Suggested punishment:  Be Mark Story for a day.

Bonus offenses:

  1. Using the term “hits,” as in Web site.  I think that it was my friend Shel Holtz who termed this “How Idiots Track Success.”  Same for “hotlinks.”
  2. Using AVE, or Advertising Value Equivalent.  Ads are not consumed and processed the way that earned media is.  And earned media is not paid media.  See #5 above.
  3. “;-).”  It creeps me out when people use this emoticon.  Especially when guys use it. If you don’t wink at me in real life, please don’t wink at me online.  For me, this is the social media equivalent of the wet fish handshake.  <shudder>.
  4. Bonus bonus:  Doing the “double gun” when you see someone.

What’s on your list of offenses that merit the social media death penalty?

For those of you about to flame, we salute you.  This is satire, people.


Image credit:  Sydney Morning Herald.



  1. Great blog! 😉

  2. Hey Mark –

    I’m afraid I’m rather missing what I inspired here. I’m not one to like my own stuff on Facebook. Did I miss something?

    I’d be happy to hear your thoughts on the matter, of course. amber AT is my email, or I’d be happy to chat here. Just really at a loss. Help me understand what’s up?


  3. Mark Story Says: August 26, 2010 at 9:00 am

    Hi Amber,

    Sorry that I was not more specific. I didn’t mean that you liked your own stuff. I think that I remember reading a tweet from a couple of weeks ago that people should not “like” their own stuff.

    If it’s not you, I can certainly edit the post. Either way, I love your tweets.


  4. Hey Mark –

    Ah, thanks for the reply. I was worried the Death Penalty was headed my way. And I don’t remember tweeting that, to be honest (I’m not much for telling folks how to do things other than the egregious offenses of spam and the like). So it’s up to you if you want to edit the post, but the comments here should help clarify, as well.

    Thanks for the conversation.

  5. Mark Story Says: August 27, 2010 at 8:29 am

    Hey Amber,

    I edited the post – just in case there was any misunderstanding. You’re too nice a person to for me to leave any ambiguity.

    Sorry if this caused any confusion.



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