The scale above shows the many stages one has to go through to become a bona fide self-righteous jerk in social media. There are many people who aspire to reach this peak but fall short.
I thought it would be worthwhile to piece together some best practices that will ensure your status as a social media self-righteous jerk (SMSRJ). In no particular order:
1. Join the Klout Gestapo.
All social media SMSRJs know that Klout is simply evil incarnate and requires an organized force to take on this evil influence wherever it resides. A true SMSRJ will never, ever create a Klout profile and will lash out against anyone who dares to do so. If Klout is the devil, then Klout Perks are the devil's spawn. Perks are to be shunned and banished, and those who receive them should be branded with a scarlet “K.”
2. Unfollow offensive Twitter followers in public.
Only the people who have yet to become SMSRJs quietly
unfollow people or companies from whom they no longer derive value. It is the true SMSRJ who announces it with a virtual bullhorn. Tactics for doing this can range from a thinly veiled post or an all-out campaign. Make sure you get a few social media gurus on your side to link to your public posts and shout your discontent from the rooftops. SMSRJs really know how to make a public spectacle of their personal dissatisfaction.
3. Target social media gurus.
Ignore the fact that although almost no true social media gurus actually refer to themselves as such, they are the conduit to becoming a guru yourself. Take them down, one by one. Call them “social media gurus” every chance you get. Make sure all your social networks know that you are doing real work. Tweets such as, “I'm still at the office, knee deep in spreadsheets,” will establish your credibility as a non-guru.
On your non-guru social media blog, write at least one post a month taking on a clearly identified guru in any subject in which you wish to establish authority. If you're lucky, they might even link to you.
4. Analyze social media influencer lists.
New social media influencer lists come out about once a week. Make sure you find them, and when you do, interrogate the creator about his or her methodology. Use your own metrics to throw the person off the fact that you're actually upset that you're not on the list.
5. Use the #Humblebrag hashtag at will.
If it looks like a humble brag, and acts like a humble brag, then it's a humble brag—and any SMSRJ has the responsibility to use the hashtag to combat this perverse social media behavior.
(Editor’s note: For those unaware, Urban Dictionary defines “humble brag” as: “A form self promotion where the promoter thinks he is, almost subliminally, bragging about himself in the context of a humble statement or complaint. Everyone listening thinks he a jackass.”)
After a few good uses, be sure to celebrate on your next vacation by relentlessly publishing pictures of beaches, mountains, and gourmet food on Facebook. Hey, everybody's doing it #humblebrag.
6. Take up the cause against personal brands and corporate cheerleaders.
A true SMSRJ creates social media feeds that reek of authenticity. Meanwhile, shameless promoters are out there at every corner, and they need to be dealt with.
Let them know when their personal brands have gotten out of control or, even worse, if they talk about their jobs and promote the companies that support their families. Take a zero-tolerance stance, and point out that neither is acceptable.
A handful of SMSRJs have even built successful personal brands pointing out how dangerous personal brands really are. Learn from this, and you, too, can be Internet famous in an ethical, respectable, and admired fashion.
7. Call out the book promoters.
Every author is using social media to promote their books. Unacceptable. Out them, blacklist them, and once you have enough material to write your own book, make sure you mention it in one out of every five social media posts. Just enough to promote it, but not enough to raise suspicion from non-author SMSRJs.
8. Engage (and let everyone know how engaging you are).
So many people are out there using social media sites as broadcast channels—they never even talk to anyone else. Blasphemy! Make sure you spend most of your activity engaging with others. Make sure they know you're engaging them. Remind them to engage back. Engage to the point where you risk work deadlines or real-world relationships. Social media requires sacrifice. Bring your offerings to the altar of engagement, and make sure everyone knows it.
9. Embrace two colors: black and white.
Nuance is for the weak. The SMSRJ sees only two shades—black and white, right and wrong. There is only one way to do social media right. (See Nos. 1 through 8 for instruction.)
10. Direct your energy toward the unenlightened.
Spend the majority of your time watching others. Obsess over their social media habits, and dissect their transgressions. It takes 10,000 hours to perfect any craft, and that goes double for the committed SMSRJ. Don't be distracted by your own initiatives; instead, stay focused on what others do, and allow their behavior to drive your mission—to rectify social media injustices around the world.
* This post designed to make you think. Social media guru not required.
David Armano is executive vice president of innovation and integration at Edelman. A version of this story first appeared on Armano’s blog Logic + Emotion.