Do you know the do’s and don’ts for social media? While “etiquette” is an old-fashioned word, it fits perfectly. Social Media Etiquette is simply a guide to how to behave online just as dinner table etiquette makes sure you don’t embarrass yourself when dining out.
When it comes to social networks the important word is “social”. Social media is not for broadcasting; it is for interacting. Listen to what others share and then comment and have discussions.
What you make public today can come back to haunt you for as long as the Internet exists. But it can also open up opportunities you never dreamed of – so being active can definitely be worth it. Just be wise about it. Check out these tips on what to do – and more importantly what NOT to do.
Before we get started, read 10 Things Not to Share on Social Media and share them with your friends, family and kids. Identity theft is not a joke – and children are often the targets of businesses who want your personal information.
20 Social Media Do’s and Don’ts
1) Be consistent. Choose a username and use it everywhere to make yourself easy to find. Facebook and Google Plus require you to use your real name. Other sites like Twitter let you use a username. You can usually also use your name on those. People prefer to have a name to call you by and not a keyword phrase. If you use a username on your profile that describes what you do, put your name in the name field so people can get to know you.
2) Your profile is how people decide whether to follow you. As soon as you open your account you should add an Avatar (a small, square image), write something interesting in your bio, and add your best link (to your blog, your site, your best social network – wherever you want someone to interact with you most). The more entertaining and informative your profile the more opportunities and interactions you’ll get.
3) Do think before posting. Remember that what you post lives forever online. Even if you can delete it somewhere there will be copies which can come back to haunt you. If you would be embarrassed to have your mother, grandmother or future boss see it, just don’t post it.
4) Being self-absorbed will get you unfollowed – or worse. The #1 most common mistake is to only post about you or your business. Research shows it is best to have a ratio or 10 or even 12 posts on other topics between every one self-serving post. The most popular social accounts share only pretty pictures and humorous images and videos.
5) Be considerate of the people in the photos you post. Some people do not want ANY photos of themselves posted and object to being “tagged” in photos. Unless you are willing to lose friends or have others retaliate by posting unfavorable photos of you in return, the best thing to do is to ASK everyone in a photo for the ok BEFORE you share it. Some people still value their privacy. Professional models actually require a written release if you use their photo – even within a private group. Be aware that even if you have a photo set to “just your friends” on Facebook they can share it and make it public. Many do not know how that works. Photos that seem fine now may keep you from getting employed later.
6) Speaking of privacy, the point of social media is to be social. But be selective about who you share with – while knowing that anything you post online may end up going public. Learn to use the privacy settings especially on Facebook. Having a private Twitter account is a little silly. Why not just use chat if you only want to talk to friends?
7) Expand beyond your current circle of friends and family. Social media makes it easy to find others who share your interests or have experiences you’d like to share. Type what interests you into the search boxes on the social networks to see what is available.
8) Just about everyone hates auto-DMs (direct messages) on Twitter. Just don’t do it. Regular DMs are fine – but don’t be surprised if they don’t get answered. So many send auto-DMs that many Tweeps tune out all DMs. If you want to make sure we see them send a regular tweet letting us know you send a DM. Otherwise we may not see it.
9) Be friendly. Say hello. Let them know why you’re reaching out to them. Mention something you have in common. Retweet what you like. Feel free to re-share what is shared publicly, but DO NOT share what is shared to you privately or to a group unless you are sure the original poster won’t mind. (Best to ask.)
10) Do not attack other people. Even if you feel justified, slinging mud gets you muddy, too. This goes double if they are your competitors. If others attack you, remember the cardinal rule of reputation management: do not lend them your influence or your audience. Those with tiny followings and little influence are best ignored. If the attack ends up getting exposure then answer it as tactfully as possible. If you are in the wrong, apologize. If it is a misunderstanding, work to resolve it.
11) Don’t troll by creating multiple profiles to try to sabotage your competition, bury other’s posts or content, or try to get anyone banned. Using fake profiles to leave negative comments or reviews or pretending to be someone you aren’t are definite nos.
12) Don’t accuse others of trolling simply because they disagree with you. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Ask them to share theirs, but never tell them what to say. Sometimes it is best to suggest that you agree to disagree.
13) Pretending to be a happy customer is a terrible idea because you will get caught. Paying someone else to pretend is just as bad. Fake reviews and comments are easy for many to spot. So is setting up questions for your business to answer. You will be really embarrassed when the truth comes out. Best to not take that chance.
14) Share what your followers would like. Think about what you make the time to like and share and you’ll have a good idea what you should share yourself. If you use bookmarketing or sharing sites, share for others there, too. Never only share your own content anywhere. That is true even if you are a business.
15) Never, ever spam. You don’t like it when others do it to you. Spamming reflects badly on you and your business, cause and even your connections.
16) Being stalked can be scary. Even if you have only the best intentions, do not connect with others in places you don’t belong. For example, if you don’t sew don’t join their sewing group. Connect only where it makes sense and don’t overwhelm them with posts all day long.
17) Social network overload is not what everyone wants, so don’t invite every person you know to every new service or tool. Really think about who might want to know and leave the others where they’re happy. Before you give any site permission to scrape your address book find out what they are going to do with that information. Some sites send invitations over and over to every address new users give them. You don’t want to be “that guy” who shared personal information your friends, family and co-workers did not want shared.
18) When you share links make sure you include a good description. No one who knows what a virus is will ever click on just a bare link. You need to provide details on what that link is about. Don’t share links to sales pages or offering followers for sale. Those will get you unfollowed or even blocked!
19) Use real words when you share. Not everyone knows the shortcuts that kids are using when texting today. Even on Twitter you can usually find a way to get a complete thought into a tweet.
20) Not everyone will follow you. Some may even block you. If they do, take that as your cue to leave them alone everywhere. Try not to take that personally. Even influencers get blocked. Focus on the people who genuinely want to interact with you.
Social media can be beneficial and fun. Jump in with both feet and interact wisely. Share what you wouldn’t mind seeing on the front page of your local newspaper or on the local news and you’ll be fine.
Have questions? Share them in the comments and we’ll answer them.