It amazes me that roughly 10 years into the social media phenomena so few in the more traditional media have no idea what to do with it. More importantly it is astounding how many do not know what they should not do with it.
There was a time when personalities in the entertainment business only had to deal with letters. They had a kind of kind of castle that was built around them. The letters would come into the show’s direct address, the production company or even the network. Those letters would be filtered through interns, agents, secretaries, and the like before they actually had a chance of being seen by the ‘star’. As you can imagine, by that point they were distilled down into the most simple and encouraging types of messages. Oh, I forgot to mention the ones that contained dirty photos of the sex or sexes that the star had a taste for.
Now, as these people make themselves and their activities available for the world to comment on through sites like @twitter and Facebook the mailing process (being postal mail or email) is mainly unused. Here is the issue. You will have those who would rather flame these people in a public forum for the sake of doing it, rarely without a reason other than jealousy of their stardom.
You have those who want to try and become friendly with these people that they see and hear on the silver screen, the small screen, and radio (be it terrestrial or satellite.) These people want to make a personal connection with these people via the most impersonal of a medium. It is, after all, just a series of letters on a screen or like the good old days a dirty photo (but this being digital.)
There are some who think they can truly lend helpful advice or input to improve the show. These are annoying of course, because who has the show? Not the one making the comment, thus who really knows best? Seriously, it must be the producers and stars of said program. Right?
Finally you have the weirdos / psychos who are out there who have lost their ability to distinguish fantasy from reality. We all are familiar with these delusional people in our lives and those we have come to know, usually after they have done something publicly that has drawn the scrutiny of the law.
So how does a ‘star’ fuck themselves out of a fan-base with social media? There are a few ways.
1. The most obvious way is to respond to one who comments and threatens them or says disparaging things about them via a private message. My belief is that a comment of that sort sent via a public reply would usually bring many to the defense of the ‘star’. So the rule here is, never send a private message to a commenting social media user. Just as back in the old days, you would never have sent a letter to them saying such things.
2. Do not ask for comments and critiques without meaning it. If you truly want opinions be prepared to get positive feedback, negative feedback, and constructive criticism or ignore it all entirely. If you do choose to solicit and read such comments, remember that you could very well be getting something that is worth listening to.
3. Never assume everyone who comments is a moron or that you necessarily know better. You would be amazed by the information you can glean from those who take the time to comment on your work, and by the people and the experience of some who comment from behind the anonymity of the internet. Also, consider this… you are making a product that is meant to appeal to your viewers first and yourself second.
4. If you are going to put yourself out there, expect to hear things said about you that are flatly untrue. Do NOT think you need to respond to these lies, by doing so you are falling into the game that so many like to play… We call it “wind up.”
5. Finally, consider doing what the elite of the elite have done with social media. Pimp your work, never say anything personal, and never respond. This is usually most easily accomplished by letting your PR people do the work or if you have one your personal assistant.
So what is the moral of the story? If you put yourself out there, have a plan of action as to how you will deal with certain types of commentary and comment on your work. I would also suggest not trying to find fans to fuck (sexually) via social media. You are better off dealing with professionals. I believe it was @charliesheen who said “you don’t pay prostitutes for sex, you pay them to go away quietly.’