A watermelon sitting on my kitchen counter earlier today brought to mind the word ‘grandstanding’ – bear with me for a couple hundred words while I make my point.

ImageJust for a moment think of the social media sphere as a pickup truck loaded with a hundred watermelons so that one watermelon can make it to your kitchen counter. Within the whole of social media my content output and influence is not even the equivalent of a single watermelon seed.

It’s not that I am unaware of the potential for global influence as a result of dedicated effort, cohesion of my ‘brand’ and ‘cross-pollinating’ (the practice of making sure of each social media platform receives the nectar from my efforts).  Nor am I lazy or unfocused when passionate about a topic.  I have dear friends, and people I certainly am connected to on Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and Google+, who have leveraged their expertise, well-turned phrases and amplification skills into international radio shows, bestselling books, and well-paying keynote speaking opportunities and consulting gigs.  But for myself, a marketing communications professional of many years, I am remarkably uncomfortable standing in the spotlight.  My work is about making my employer or client and their product suite or value proposition look great in front of their constituent audiences –behind the scenes.  In my own authorship (media both traditional and social) it is a philosophy of gratitude, awareness of beauty and authenticity that stirs my cauldron of words.  But understanding what I do about resonance (in public relation parlance Third Party Validation) it is pure joy to use my skills to issue communications in the form of a well-deserved #shoutout for those individuals or organisations whose superlative efforts to make the world a more resonate, hopeful, cooperative, holistic, spiritual place.

We have all experienced the individual whose need to be the center of attention in business meetings and at cocktail parties makes them a pariah.  They divert the topic being discussed to something ‘more personally relevant’ or take over the floor without place on the agenda or invitation.  ImageTheir etiquette skills ceased developing beyond their four year old selves.

In our always ‘on’ globally connected world these people are just as unwelcome as their very scary brethren, the Internet Troll. The difference between the two is subtle but significant – the former have may offer real value but need ‘netiquette’ counseling and the latter are jealous, nasty, narrow minded often anonymous individuals screaming obscene vitriol in boldface and capital letters (those who forced Kellogg’s to drop its endearing mixed race family Cheerio commercial come to mind).

The netiquette pariah, the grand-stander, piggybacks onto messaging created by those individuals whose extensive pool of followers and influence, detracting from the influencers’ core message. And, for the influencer (and their followers) the distractor often negatively impacts both ‘the brand’ as well as diminishes the potential impact which might be realized in the original well-crafted salient and succinct posting. The amplification is loss to the noise of the grand-stander. Their volumes of unrelated text (though perhaps fantastically valuable information if presented in the proper context) are social media toxic waste on multiple levels.  The grand-stander is like the sheer volume of the pickup truck of whole 20 pound watermelons when the original communication is a single Lycopene rich 1cup serving.

So, my watermelon is all cut up and in the refrigerator. The rind has been food processer’d in three batches and worked into the garden soil to enrich what I have labored and nurtured for the last five years – just as you’ve been building your social media presence. Out in Netopia-land (apologies to the brand) there exist persons who will not see that they are gross violators of netiquette and unwelcome trespassers. Just as Ann Landers used to suggest to readers that they clip her column and leave it where it might spur a conversation, if you have experienced such violation – feel free to repost (or forward in the private message) my blog to bring the grand-stander ‘enlightenment’ around their un-welcomed behavior. Otherwise, take Kellogg’s example and unfriend, report as spam or block, or more drastically consider deleting the message accordingly to preserve your brand.

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