Declaring Myself the Emily Post of Social Media

Alright, I’ve had it.

The next person who posts a ‘Top xxxxx on Twitter’ or “Top Social Media blah blah blah” is getting kicked.


We’ve gotten to the point of anointing Prom Kings and Queens and much like high school, I’m over it.

Let me explain, and I will use Twitter as the example because it’s the easiest and one of the most widely used social media platforms:

Twitter is much like a cocktail party. A very big cocktail party. With all sorts of people in the same room, talking to each other, talking to their martini glasses, talking to no one in particular. Everyone came to the party without an invite,ย  and for a different reason.

Some people show up to network. It’s good for business.

Some people show up to make sure you know all about their new product.

Some people show up to just hang out and chat.

Some people show up simply for the free booze.

Some people show up because their partner or spouse dragged them along.

It’s a social setting. We chat about kids and work and what we’re doing at any given moment. In one corner of the party I’m talking to business associates and we’re making deals, at the end of the room I’ve run into my cousin and we’re catching up on family matters. Right in the middle of the party and over by the bar I find a bunch of my girlfriends and we’re going to cackle and crack jokes and watch a hockey game.

Now imaging waking up the next morning from that cocktail party to find your social skills rated and your name on or off a list. Your social actions judged, critiqued, and analyzed by others. Your friendships and how you maintain them left for public comment.

It would never happen.

Why? It’s rude and totally poor etiquette.

I know of no other medium where a public assessment of your cocktail party networking successes, failures, and friendships were listed and ranked.

In fact, I’ve been to many a party and there was no score-sheet after on who worked the room better than anyone else. Relationships were not analyzed and then discussed by s0-called “experts.”

Sure, we might whisper about it over the water cooler the next day, but we’re certainly not going to rank you for all the world to see next to your colleagues, family, or friends.

At what point did gossiping about who’s the coolest Prom King and Queen become a “marketing tool” and considered anything other than RUDE?

Why are we talking about the people who are talking? Where is the value in that? Why are we measuring who can work a room better, when everyone in that room does NOT have the same motives?

I realize social media isn’t always mainstream, but our basic culture has not changed. People like to party and foster relationships for whatever reason strikes them that day. I find no value in playing arm-chair quarterback after the party is over and airing the social ineptitude or grace of my circle of friends.

It is not socially acceptable to rank your relationships. Nor is it socially acceptable to rank the relationships of others.

Find me the industry analysts that quantify what that golf-game between several CEO’s did and I’ll give you your “lists.” Find me the publication that ranks the top _fill-in-the-blank_ professional and how well they “do lunch” and I’ll concede the talkers talking about all the talking have value.

Right now, I see no value. Only opportunists.

Rude ones, at that.


  1. While it may be a cocktail hour to you, it is business and work for others… and as far as I know, rankings have existed always (Read: Fortune 500).

    Get over it.

  2. Queen of Spain says:

    Rankings and lists for measurable business and work. NOT relationships

  3. Not everyone sees social media (not only Twitter, but blogs, etc) as “relationships” primarily. Again, everyone has their own goals. We just have common tools that enable many goals to be achieved.

  4. Queen of Spain says:

    Exactly what I said. However these ‘lists’ of just how good you are at networking, creating, and maintaining relationships do not exist in any other industry- do they?

  5. Oh wow- I didn’t even know that I felt this way, but you are totally right.


  6. Bravos! Well said. My sense – Twitter is high school with money. Rock on!

  7. Does anybody REALLY take these lists seriously? Ok, so I’ve posted things like you said. “I got a 100% from Twitter Grader” or whatever. I don’t take it seriously because I know it’s all a joke. The internet is like a TV. If you don’t like what you see, turn it off.

  8. Erin I think that the lists that are made are so subjective that it is difficult to poo poo them just because “they are rude”. Yeah its rude to exclude others and I have had this problem lots of times when doing the Best of Blog Awards ( You will always have those that are not on the list of cool kids. Everyone’s list is different too. Everyone wants to be recognized. I think that my response would be similar to that one football coach ( I hate him but he’s right). Wanna be on a list? Do more better. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  9. I agree 100%. I would add that I hate what these top lists and ranking mechanisms do to the people not on them – like you said, it devalues and adds a ‘looking over your shoulder’/popularity contest to valuable conversation, sharing and networking.

    I love that this pissed you off and minutes later you had written a beautiful and meaningful post!

    I follow you because I value your opinions and find you very interesting. You make me think. I subscribe to your blog for the same reasons. I comment and respond to let you know.

    The comments I get on my blog and the responses I get on Twitter are what make my world go round…they inform me and make me grow. That’s my ‘rank’, that’s my ‘list’…

    Thank you for writing this. Off to retweet.

  10. I’m curious as to which ‘rankings’ you are referring. If these are editorialized rankings by another Twitter user, then I can see your rant. However, if you are referring to the entire cottage industry of Twitter-rank-grader-optimizer-adviser sites and clones, I think the cocktail analogy fails in that there is no API for real-world interactions. If there were, then I can promise you that there would be services to rate how well you did at some social event. No doubt about it.

  11. people like lists and rankings. It’s just a fact of life. Like the top 25 polls in college basketball or football — they don’t really matter, but they are fun to look at. Same with all the twitter rankings.

  12. Queen of Spain says:

    It’s not just a matter of being ‘good at social media’ Jim. Its that someone is trying to quantify my friendships and how ‘valuable’ they are.

    That’s really rude. As someone who considers many of these people close friends.

    Now let’s say we’re JUST coming at this as a ‘using social media for business’ perspective. Then you are simply trying to quantify how well I ‘Do Lunch’ or network over a golf game.

    Again, rude!

  13. Interesting take, I had never thought of those lists in this context. An interesting “underbelly” of social media is that it broadcasts things that we used to keep private. For example think about your different circles of friends – maybe some you send christmas gifts to, some you send cards to, and some get nothing. Now it might be easy for me to figure out that you sent a gift to some friends but not to me by the comments on your facebook wall. We’ve always KNOWN that people have favorites, but it used to be easy to ignore. You could say that myspace started the whole thing with the “top 8”.

    When I see those lists, I just read it as people’s “BFF”s or favorites (or people they want to suck up to!). Nothing more or less. BUT I have never had one of my BFFs make one of those lists and not include me. If that happened, I have to admit my feelings would probably be hurt.

  14. ITA. In my opinion, it’s not just that there are lists, per se, but the fact that some (not all) SM business types think there’s only one right way to use Twitter. I’ll socialize however I damn well please. Just because you use Twitter for business (I’ll refrain from commenting on merits of that right now), doesn’t mean that those of us who use it as supplements for blogs, or as true SOCIAL networking aren’t using it in the “right” way.

  15. Dave, 90% of the world never leaves high school; they just leave adult supervision.

    And Erin — there are millions of people who drive cars who will never show up in the NEXTEL Cup standings. Some Twitter users want to ride in the fast lane, most don’t. But even casual drivers want to know what kind of mpg they get, what sort of horsepower, how fast they can go, how much they can carry…

    …that said, I have made it my Personal Brand’s crusade to make fun of the puffery and the silliness of some of the metrics. Like when that guy was touting himself as an “expert” for his mastery of Twitter, I hit him with this.

  16. KBO – I also enjoy making fun of the SuperDuperPowerUsers (like the Sc*ble’s of the world) who proclaim how the rest of us have to do things.

    I’m pretty much a miserable b@stard. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  17. Dear Emily Ms. Post,

    Will you be my new best friend? (Please?)

    Amy, who wishes she’d written this

  18. I think the problem is all of the different goals converging in the same place – and not everyone making their intentions clear.

    If it’s used for business – cool. If it’s used for personal – cool. But don’t pretend to be “social” with me when you’re really only interested in getting on some dumb ass list.

    It’s like someone showing up at your kid’s birthday party to network with your brother-in-law.

  19. โ€˜Top xxxxx on Twitterโ€™ or โ€œTop Social Media blah blah blahโ€

    I didn’t even know there was some sort of ranking for our Twitters. I’m kind of glad I’m so out of the popularity loop that I didn’t. I know where you’re coming from though. I’m am not, nor will I ever be an A-lister (not that I have the desire or drive to), and as much as I try to ignore all the blog awards or “perfect post” things, it’s hard to when you see your blog buddies getting those things.

  20. Oh, the list makers on Twitter (and other socnet sites) come and go every year @ this time. Linkbait extraordinaire. Just ignore them like I do… and pass me some egg nog! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  21. Queen of Spain says:

    I kinda love Ryan’s there is no “API for real-world interactions” – and that’s exactly what this is. Interaction, and people are ranking it. And it’s ….not cool. How do you RANK interaction and why is it ok here but NO WHERE else?

  22. All you have to do is think of it as a “celebrity party” and you come up with the look and feel and judgement day you are feeling. Who talked to whom, who is “in” who is “out” and who may not make the next parties cut.

    Personally, I am with you, but I have always been “on the outside” anyway.

  23. As one who is just here for the booze, I have to confess to “accidentally” sloshing red wine on some of the rude party-goer’s sleeves. Beware the over-doing of the quantifying, it’s a turn off for the very people you may be wanting to court.

  24. It all seems very junior high to me… Actually, no. Six grade. Where there were slam books… And where at the end of the year it was expected that even the dude who shoved you in the locker would write “Have a great summer, BFF” in your yearbook… I didn’t think it was cool then either. Which is why I was always picked last in dodge ball.

  25. Erin, I feel like you just reached into my soul and found feelings I didn’t even know I had – and then you expressed them in ways I probably couldn’t match. You rock.

    How did we not make this connection before?

  26. I see your point and to a degree I agree with it. My point is that people that make these lists include those people on their radar or perhaps just in their own cool kids group. Perhaps if you don’t appear on a list you were not on the radar. My list of 100 top online marketers would not be close to the 100 top marketers I have seen or the top 25 Twitterers or whatever list it is. I have looked at a few of the lists and my criteria is also completely different. So what your argument seems to imply is that their opinions of their cool kids is what is rude. I was never the King of the Math Club, and because I wasn’t on their radar for top 25 influencers in school, I’m sure I wouldn’t have been on a list of people to invite to discuss algebraic formulas at a party. Is it rude not to be included in that? In my mind it might be, but to get on that list I might wanna do more homework.

  27. You can’t rank interaction.

    BUT – I think what you’re missing is that many people don’t use “social” media for true interaction. They use it in a much more calculated way. They use it for nothing more than to increase their “reach”.

    And as any media ad rep will tell you – reach CAN be quantified and ranked. Or at least, actively guessed at.

  28. Precisely, Ms. Britt. Precisely.

  29. Amy —

    Of all the sports in PE, dodgeball is the one that requires the greatest degree of political smarts. (Not the movie version of the game, but the one where a bunch of people stand in the middle of a circle where the outsiders have the balls.)

    The key to winning in that game was to negotiate the sweet spot – one row inside. You have one row of human shield in front, and enough visibility to ensure you won’t get nailed if the front people part and let a ball through. Too close to the middle and you have no room to maneuver. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  30. Queen of Spain says:

    Britt and Aaron – but with so many people using it for both, either, or neither – how is that a valid measurement? and while it can be done-for those mixing their purpose or only using it for fun- isn’t it rude?

  31. No, it’s not rude. It might be tone deaf, but it’s not rude. For instance, I keep ending up on these “Top Marketer” lists and I’m not a marketer. Makes the listers look stupid, but it isn’t rude.

  32. Queen of Spain says:

    if it’s not rude then why don’t we see ‘top ceo’s that can close a deal over lunch’ ? or ‘top female execs good at working a holiday party’ lists?

  33. Because those things don’t happen “in public”. If they did, it would be ranked. So the sacrifice you make for playing in public is the risk of getting ranked. If you don’t want to be, take your ball and go home.

  34. Reach can also be a carefully constructed house of cards. Reach does not equal relationships.

  35. Truthfully, I never thought about it this way. I haven’t checked my Twitter Rank since the early days when I had few Twitter friends, and then, it was just for fun, much like an online IQ test. I didn’t imagine that this meant anything.

    Recently, I took a look at the Shorty Awards, and thought that this might be a good way to find interesting people within industries. It’s not that I care about finding the Top Dog, but Twitter has grown so much that it’s not easy finding who is posting about the subjects that I care about.

    I think there is room for some ranking, but I agree with you that we don’t need a zillion Top Banana lists.

  36. Here, here! This should be a royal decree.

    I hate twitter rankings, but what I hate more is users on Twitter trying to boast their ranking where their whole aim of using twitter is to get in the top 100 twitter users or have over x amount of followers. Get over it!

    It really doesn’t matter how many followers you have or how well you are placed what people are interested in is you, the things you talk about and how you interact with other users. It isn’t a competition.

  37. “itโ€™s not rude. It might be tone deaf”

    Yep. It’s not any more (or less) rude than “most influential female CEOs” lists.

    It just is what it is.

    What is hysterical is the people on those lists who see their inclusion on them as some measure of accomplishment. Until they start giving out prize money, those lists and ranking are of no more consequence than your homecoming Queen sash.

  38. Queen of Spain says:

    I like calling it rude. It’s more fun. I’m going to see how many times today I can say RUDE RUDE RUDE


  39. This is the analogy to “It’s not about the money.” Of course it’s *not about the money.* But money, lists, reputaion–that’s how we keep score in our society, live or digitally. Peace.

  40. Erin, if you’re the Emily Post of Social Media, can I be the Calvin Trillin?

  41. @Miss Britt “What is hysterical is the people on those lists who see their inclusion on them as some measure of accomplishment.”

    The worry is not the people on the list as much as the CMO deciding on who to use as a consultant. Think about Erin and Aaron on the final two list of social media experts to be considered for a contract. Everything else being equal the CMO decides to go with Aaron because Google turned up that he was in the 100 list of online marketers. Yes, I have seen that happen IRL. I can assure you someone on those lists will put it on a testimonial on their blog. It will get noticed. Perceptions as they are it will carry some influence.

  42. Jim, rest assured, I am leveraging my inclusion on those lists. Even tho I am not a marketer, I can do the job of marketing in most cases better than real marketers. Just saying.

  43. I’d add that people like Erin who bitch about being on these lists could take the opportunity to make money off of it if they so chose.

  44. Like Ike (whom I like) I have been pretty consistent in my dislike of most Internet ranking systems. Either they are just someone’s opinion and who crowned them? Or they are based on an algorithm that uses a variety of metrics, many of which can be gamed. Even things like inbound links are problematic, because not all blogging segments are link-driven. Parent blogs for example are really comment driven, so ranking systems that count links underestimate the “reach” of parent bloggers. And so on.

    So I am with you 100% but I fear we shall be disappointed. In fact I am girding myself for more than a few top this and that lists as the year draws to a close. That and prediction posts.

    So original. Not.

  45. Queen of Spain says:

    Ike is now the Calvin Trillin of social media.

    And I wasn’t bitching about being on a list. I was bitching the trying to rank my friendships is rude.

  46. Queen of Spain says:

    I’d like to once again publicly express my love for Susan Getgood

  47. Now I’m angered by the fact that I didn’t make the Queen of Spain “public expression of love list.”

  48. I love you. More then ever. I would say you are one of my top 10 favorite twitters…but you might kick me. Heck I might like it.


    Dave Aka Britneymason

  49. Queen of Spain says:

    I love you too Jim.

    and thanks Dave. and I’d kick ya anyway. ๐Ÿ™‚

  50. Wow. I’m so new to Twitter, I didn’t even know there was a cool kids group. I’m more of an outside looking in girl myself. Much less stressful.

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