Social media etiquette

Photo courtesy of Brett Jordan via Flickr

We all spend a lot of time online…it seems like we fill every waking moment on one social-media site or another. This is definitely true for me personally; I mean I am a social media manager. But even when I’m off the clock and at home relaxing, I’m still on at least one social site. Whether I’m waiting for the bus, train, or just sitting through commercials (well I can’t DVR everything!) I’m checking Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. Etiquette is crucial, online or offline. Like any other form of communication, social media has its own nuances about how you should behave, but here are some things I have learned over the years…and taking a look back through my Facebook Timeline, I’d like to officially apologize for some of my posts. I’ll never put you through that again!

Say “hello” and “goodbye.” Saying hello when you get online is a nice way to start your daily time online. It lets your community know you’re available, and it also encourages conversation. Saying goodbye lets people know when you’re heading offline.  When you do this on a regular basis, your community will come to know when they can expect you to be available.

Introduce yourself. When you follow/friend/engage with people who may not know you, introduce yourself. It helps break the ice and open the door to conversation. Let them know who you are, what you do (if connecting for business) and how you came across them…it might just make a great impression. Be transparent about what you are connecting with them for.

Think before you speak. Don’t make statements about someone that are false, don’t disclose trade secrets or intellectual property, and don’t say anything to offend anyone. Just because something pops into your head doesn’t mean it should be shared with the world so think first. Stop and ask yourself, “Would I say this face-to-face to all the people on my list?” If the answer is no, then it’s probably a bad idea to put it out there. If you aren’t sure whether you should send it, chances are you probably shouldn’t.

Reciprocation. Social media is a two way street. Don’t just talk about yourself. Think of social media as a party…do you want to be stuck next to people who only talk about themselves? I don’t…

It’s all about give and take, but try to give more than you take. Make sure you aren’t solely sharing your content. I try to promote others three times as much than I promote Cision. When you take a genuine interest in others by sharing their content, they are more likely to take an interest in you and share your content as well. Sharing what others have to offer is a great way to connect and get to know your followers better, and vice versa.

Treat others the way you would like to be treated. In other words respect. Racial slurs, criticisms without warrant, blatant abuse, etc. These things don’t work in real life and have no place in the social media channels.

Say please and thank you. Thank people who share their thoughts with you. It’s a great way to start a conversation. If someone shares your content, take a moment to show your gratitude. If you don’t have time to comment on everyone who shared your content, make a general statement thanking them. It’s simple, easy and it only takes a minute.

Social circles. Take time to review your followers/friends and manage your following/follower ratio. Make sure you are reaching out to people you haven’t connected with yet instead of just communicating with the same select few. Don’t be afraid to communicate with people outside of your social circle. Great conversation and ideas come from those people that aren’t like-minded.

Listen. Conversations are two-way streets. Enough said.

Think we’re missing any rules? Feel free to add these in the comments.

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