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Having worked in social media for my entire professional, grown-up life I understand how valuable of a tool it is for consumers, businesses, and everyone/thing else in between. Not only does it allow instantaneous communication between individuals and groups on a level that has never been reached before, it also allows consumers to connect with businesses and brands in a way that was inconceivable even just a decade ago. And the greatest thing about social media, in my opinion, is that it finally forces everyone to understand that relationships matter most in business.
However, there is a dark side to it that is not very noticeable unless you really look for it, or have it affect you personally. This “other side” of social media is all about exclusion and superiority. One of the negatives with social media is that it allows public ridicule to become a devilishly serious matter. You need someone humiliated? All it takes is a wall post or Tweet. A company screw you over? Start a movement via Twitter or a Facebook group about it and cripple the company. It allows complainers a free avenue to bitch and moan to their hearts content, and to an extreme that would never be tolerated through other means. Small issues become nationwide news because a social savvy individual knows how to work the system and blow things out of the water.
My latest gripe with social media is epitomized by the website Triberr. The website calls itself “The Reach Multiplier” which sounds great in theory. Who doesn’t want more reach for their blog? I blog about things I find important, and while I don’t think I’m a genius or deserve recognition, I do believe that I have educated and valid opinions. If I have the opportunity to get more people to read my blog, I’m going to be intrigued. That’s what got me onto Triberr in the first place. Then I actually figured out what the website does: it is a cleverly disguised spam-a-tron that breeds exclusivity and blog snobs (blobs?).
Here’s the concept: You have to be invited by a member (okay, not that big of a deal) or request to be invited to a “tribe.” These tribes are groups focused on a specific topic (i.e. social media, social networking, sports, dogs, events, etc) and are specifically bloggers who blog about said topic. You have to “find” a tribe that suits your passion or focus. You join a Tribe and when you join you publish a blog post and tweet about it all other members in the tribe automatically retweet it as well. Triberr sets it up so tweets aren’t one after another, but in 40-120 minute intervals. You don’t have an option whether you wish to retweet or not, it’s part of the deal when you join a tribe, and any tribe. In other words, you are going to be retweeting a lot of blog posts, and filling your twitter stream with these tweets as long as you’re a member of the tribe.
If you don’t have a problem with this just yet, well here’s some answers from Triberr, in their words, on how their process works:
How do I join Triberr?
“You can’t join Triberr. You must be invited by someone who is already a member or you can request an invite.”
Seriously…they start off by immediately saying “You can’t join…” Obviously you can join, but the message is clear, we are exclusive and you have to know people or prove yourself in order to participate. And if that isn’t making the message clear enough they also have this:
How do I get an invite?
“If you are a close friend of someone who is already on Triberr and they find your blog simply amazing and you are a super-engaged person on Twitter, your invite is probably already in your inbox.”
In other words…”you must be a superstar with friends who worship your every word online..then you can “expect” an invite because it’s a privilege.
“You could also browse the list of tribes and request to join by making your case. This will allow tribal chieftain to “check you out” before sending the invite.
If you are an awesome blogger with super-engaged following on Twitter, every Tribal chief would be lucky to have you so your approval is pretty much in the bag. Especially if you pick a tribe where YOU can help THEM and not the other way around.”
And there’s the bombshell…you have to “make your case” and be “checked out” by the tribe “chieftain” before you can be accepted. And if you are such a superstar on the internet then they are “lucky” to have you. But only join a tribe if “YOU can help THEM” but not if you want them to help you.
So…I find a tribe I want to join and apply because I’m super awesome and they would be lucky to have me (not pretentious at all), then have to be checked out by the leader (that certainly makes me feel like an equal and part of the “tribe”), and I should feel lucky to join a tribe because I can make it stronger…but not expect it to help me out (I’m all for taking one for the team, but I’m allowed to look out for myself too).
How is this attractive to any honest individual who wants to achieve success through hard work? All I see is a website that will judge you and deem you worthy of their services or not…and then be a pawn for others that are already on the site. Super.
In high school and college (I went to smaller schools, both private) the cliques and general attitude of superiority exhibited by individuals was appalling. This is the internet version of it. As I said, I love social…but when you attempt to make less social for personal gain, yet try to disguise it as the opposite, it completely destroys the awesome power of social media. Exploitation and exclusion have rarely worked in the past, why would it work today?
What do you think? Is Triberr a service you would use, or are you staying away from it like I am?
The slides from the Science of Timing Webinar by Dan Zarrella, hosted on Hubspot: