I wrote several months ago about the plight of the “adopster“: the early adopter who ditches social platforms once the digital riff raff (read: people who don’t work in the technology / digital / social / marketing space) arrive.

For the past month or so, however, I’ve been witnessing (yet another) resurgence of a different behavior — a behavior that seems to be the perfect inverse of the “adopster” phenomenon: the pathological social media marketer… or as I like to call them, the “sociopath.”

Oh, wait… that’s an actual term?

Okay, okay: a “socialmediopath.”

The socialmediopath is that hard-to-ignore mover and shaker who sees dollar signs wherever people gather online. It’s not a new set of behaviors, but it never stops being… annoying.

And right now, they’re all hanging out on Pinterest: the not-so-new (since 2008) virtual pinboard service that encourages users to curate collections of images and links from across the web that map to certain themes or interests, in a highly visual format. You can find them pinning and liking and commenting everywhere, smiling voraciously at their fellow users with Tony Robbins teeth and a flinty glint in their eye.

I love Pinterest, but socialmediopaths love Pinterest.

Love love it.

And even if it has been around since 2008, they’ve just noticed it… as with the teenage boy who grows a foot during the summertime, and is suddenly the captain of the basketball team come September.

Now, before you remind me that I help clients use social platforms to build their businesses and communicate with their customers, I should be clear that I’m not referring to people who use social media as part of an integrated marketing plan, or as part of a thoughtful strategy for their customer service, engagement, or marketing. This is something I do, and something many of my friends do (and they do it well!) We have the responsibility to keep our eyes open for what might work for a particular client, and to give new (or newish) opportunities a spin — otherwise, we’re just not doing our jobs (as my good friend, Shelly, astutely pointed out the other day.)

I’m also not talking about the people who have expertise in a particular type of platform and can speak thoughtfully to how a particular tool compares to similar ones, and who the ideal or typical user might be… according to their experience and whatever data is available.

No, a “socialmediopath” is the person who dives on a new opportunity — especially if it’s unproven — and…

  • Starts a blog devoted to it, or six, all with “killer” or “tips” in the title
  • Writes nine eBooks about it, which they sell via webinar and maybe a long salesletter (so retro!)
  • Insists you can create a business based on it with just five minutes a day
  • Refuses to use any other platform than the one they’re selling, because all the other ones are “dead”
  • Adds the company icon / logo to all their avatars
  • Pitches panels or presentations on it to every conference they possibly can
  • Does all they can to become the de facto spokesperson for it, despite the fact the developers wouldn’t know them from Adam
  • Believes it will revolutionize the world IF ONLY WE ALL  COULD JUST GO THERE!

These people make me tired.

Not because we don’t all have the right to make money where money can be made. No, it’s because following their thoughts and counsel becomes remarkably similar to keeping tabs on a 13 year-old girl’s crushes.

There’s a new infatuation every single day, and IT’S SERIOUS THIS TIME and THIS IS THE ONE YOU’VE BEEN DREAMING OF… regardless of the fact that they say that every time (and there’s always a cute new beta around the corner.)

Pinterest has been a particularly egregious obsession for socialmediopaths, in part because it gained popularity among non-power users of social media (read: your friend from high school with the flip phone) before many of even the most fervent adopsters realized what was happening. And while that’s great news for businesses or organizations that can effectively use Pinterest as part of their digital / social strategy, it also makes it ripe for exploitation.

So is it right for you, this Pinterest? Maybe.

Your business is unique. Your customers are unique. Your goals are unique. Your needs are unique. And as such, the recipe that feeds all of those unique aspects of who you are and what you do is going to involve a lot of different ingredients, in the right measure, at the right time.  You try, you track, you tweak, you track some more… and you see what happens. And then you do it again. Which is what smart marketers do, anyway, come rain or shine.

Of course, none of this reasonable behavior means that you can’t get excited about adding a shiny new tool to your toolbox.

(… but maybe keep the hammer away from the socialmediopath.)