Social Media Etiquette, by Melanie Brooks

By 10th May 2012 No Comments

I don’t know about you, but lately I’ve been hearing about some pretty serious social media snafus that have been so bad that people have lost their jobs over them.

Whether your Facebook page is set to private or not, nothing is ever really private on the Internet. It’s not just high school and college kids who have a hard time understanding that—it’s grown ups, too.

If you are like me, you have a personal Facebook page as well as one for your business. I have a LinkedIn page and I tweet using my business handle. Keeping your personal and business lives separate on social media sites can be hard, so here are some ways to make sure you are putting your best foot forward, instead of in your mouth. 

Be Respectful 

If you gossip or complain about your clients on Facebook or Twitter, it may very well get back to them. Even if you don’t use their names, people are savvy. No matter how difficult a client is, there is no reason to complain about them on social media sites. Complain to your spouse, your mom, or a friend in private. You’ll be able to get your frustrations off of your chest while still looking professional to the outside world.

Count to 10 Before You Respond 

Social media can be challenging since your reactions can transfer straight to your fingertips without stopping at your brain. As a result, your emotional response rushes onto your screen without a second thought. This feedback can be hurtful to others and cause unanticipated repercussions, either immediately or in the future. —Ragan.com

This is a lesson I have learned over time. The same thing goes for an email or phone call response. Before you shoot back and really let someone have it, sleep on it. Perhaps you are misinterpreting something or there was a miscommunication. Before you start a war of words, that can’t be taken back once it’s been published in a message or on your Facebook timeline, give yourself time to simmer down. You may come up with some great ideas on how to handle the situation when you give your emotions some time to chill.

Even with the best privacy settings, your message may get found by people who don’t appreciate your commentary. Besides, who wants updates from someone who complains a lot? —Boston.com

Treat Your Networks Separately

It’s not unusual to have personalities across several social networks and a burning desire to give the same information simultaneously to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Don’t make this an automatic thing. —Boston.com

You can link your Facebook and Twitter pages together so you are sending the exact same message to both…but that can be a turnoff. People use those networks differently, so they should be treated differently. Sometimes 140 characters isn’t going to cut it for a Facebook status update.

Personally, it’s a turn off to me to see the same content posted in multiple locations. I hardly ever post my business stuff to my personal Facebook account, because that’s not where it belongs. Plus, it turns my friends off, especially the ones who have “liked” both my personal and professional pages. You don’t want to alienate your followers.

Update and Promote Accordingly

Constantly asking someone to retweet something you posted on Twitter or sharing it on their Facebook wall should not be overdone. If your content is good, it will be shared.

You can blog, tweet, or update your Facebook page as often as you want. I try to update my business page about three to four times a day. But you should note that people “unfollow” noisy tweeters. Even Chris Brogan, who provides strategic business advice for companies, says he gets unfollowed all the time because of his tweeting style.

It’s probably okay to promote something 4x a day on a social network, so that you hit all the time zones appropriately. In the last hour, you can always give it a couple more pushes, but that’s about it. —Chris Brogan

Help and Promote Others

If you help and promote someone else, chances are they are more likely to do the same for you!

Social media isn’t a solitary endeavor. It’s about the community and paying-it-forward. —Ragan.com

Chris Brogan agrees, and has some great tips on how to give in order to receive:

  • Promote others more often than you promote yourself. My long-standing measure is 12:1. (If it doesn’t work at first, it’s because maybe you’re not sincere in your promoting of others).
  • If you’re writing about a client, add (client) to the tweet/post/update.
  • Your cause isn’t always our cause. If we don’t want to help, don’t badger.

It’s okay to follow and like your competition on social media sites, too. It’s also a good way to keep up to date on what they’re doing. I like and follow all sorts of other magazines on my professional Facebook pages, and I’m always flattered when other publications follow me on Twitter and the like. It means I’m doing something right and worthwhile!

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