Social media is the place where you always get a live, personal experience of what’s the right and wrong way to do things. Each new site has its tools and services which are misused more often that not. Take Facebook for example! There is a right way to fill in a profile, a right way to post on your wall, a right way to post on someone else’s wall, a way to friend people and a right way to interact with your social connections. There’s of course the less rare to spot wrong way of doing all that. But the thing that kept ticking me off recently is photo tagging.

There is this not so new habit of uploading an irrelevant photo that some might find funny or endearing or just different. But then comes the ugly part – in an attempt to get attention from your contacts, you start tagging everyone you are “friends” with to get them to visit your profile. They are not in the picture, most are not even interested in the photo topic. Part of the people you tag will come by and comment. Which results in a notification flood to the inbox of those who couldn’t care less about your photo. 

First you waste their time, as the normal attempt is for them to check the tag, unless you did that before. Then they have to delete all comment notifications from their inbox, which mind you might not be the quietest place on earth anyway.

Is this acceptable in any way? I am inclined to let it slide when someone wants to send best wishes and a card to a larger group. I still find the practice annoying, but I am sort of OK with it. But it has to be some sort of national holiday, preferably one that I celebrate. Other than that, that’s just abuse and plain spamming. See, just posting the photo to your profile and sharing it on your wall would already mean I’d see it in my Facebook stream. Tagging me when I have no real connection with the photo is just pushing something down my throat. I don’t like it and I’ve recently started unfriending people who do it.

So what’s the proper way to tag people? Tag only those who are in the said photo. If you think someone else might be interested, although they are not in the actual picture, you can always send them a message and the link to the photo. If they want to join the conversation around it, they will. If not, they will remain in the anonymity social networks still manage to provide us with from time to time.

From an online brand management perspective, this practice of tagging people in irrelevant photos to remind them you exists should disappear from the face of Facebook. It portrays you as abusive, spamming and disrespectful of people’s limited time and generally overflowing email accounts. From a purely casual social networking usage perspective, it portrays you in the same way, only you lose friends not business opportunities.

Over to you: do you think tagging people who have nothing to do with the photo is acceptable or downright annoying? What would you do in such a case?

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