Social Media Etiquette for Beginners
Manners are made up of trivialities of deportment which can be easily learned if one does not happen to know them; manner is personality—the outward manifestation of one’s innate character and attitude toward life…. Etiquette must, if it is to be of more than trifling use, include ethics as well as manners. Certainly what one is, is of far greater importance than what one appears to be.
– Emily Post
Living in the South I’m surrounded by manners. Signs and people telling you what to do and how to do it and being the mother of two young, Southern girls, I have to do my duty to make sure they know their manners and their social etiquette. Now that digital communication is here, that includes how to act online as well.
I see grown adults act like immature teenagers online and business owners acting like children. It would appear that the onslaught of communication via email and social media has diluted our communication skills. Let’s take a look at some best social media etiquette practices we can all use…
Don’t ignore people. Much like how you wouldn’t want to be ignored in real life, don’t ignore someone online. If someone takes the time to respond to something you have out there – a tweet, a Facebook post, acknowledge it. People want to feel like they matter and ignoring them tells them they don’t. Unless it’s gossip. It’s best to just ignore that.
Don’t steal. Seriously. Plagiarism happens every day on the web. I’ve had it happen to me. Friends have had their articles stolen multiple times too. Google doesn’t like it and we don’t either. There are proper ways to go about reusing published content. Contact the author and ask about their republication policy (we all have them and they aren’t all the same). It adds value to the relationship when you ask first and it shows appreciation on both sides.
Act your age. I really shouldn’t have to actually type this out, but if you’re 35, act it. A lot of people try to use social media to make themselves bigger than they are and it comes back to get them. Acting your age and showing your maturity will earn you respect and authority.
If it would make your grandmother blush, don’t post it. This applies to content and language. There is absolutely no place for cursing online. Same applies to language that could offend someone (i.e. racial slurs, name-calling). Think of your beloved grandmother – what would she say? We’re all adults here and we need to act like it (see above). Same applies especially to business owners – there is no place for an owner to respond with that type of language to a post on their business account. Trust me, do it and you’ll end up like Amy’s Bakery in Arizona (read about it here).
Don’t assume. This applies to life in general. When you see something online don’t always assume it’s real or legit. There’s a lot of spam out there and do your friends a favor and check it out before sharing it. This also applies to tone. In writing it’s so hard to determine the tone of the writer from mere words. For example, I could type “That’s not funny.” and mean it as either a laughing “that’s not funny” making light of something or a harsh “that’s not funny” really getting onto someone. If there is something posted you do not understand, just ask. Ask for clarification. It will save hurt feelings or misunderstandings.
Spell check! Please!!! Whether it’s personal or business writing, there is nothing worse than misspellings and incorrect grammar. Proof everything you write BEFORE hitting the post/tweet/publish button. Ross Gellar from “Friends” points out a popular one… (sorry, had to!)
Now it’s your turn – what are best practices for social media etiquette that YOU would share?