Social Media Manners & Best Practices

Updated: January 24, 2011

  • Apologise When You Mess Up. The other day I tried to make my twitter stream an RRS feed. It went horribly wrong and resulted in a constant onslaught of nonsense tweets. Slightly embarrassed, I quickly apologised to everyone. I'm thankful they didn't all block me. A simple sorry goes a long way!
  • Respect Your Employers Social Media Policy. This applies even if said employer is a bit behind the times and doesn't have one yet. If you are going to blog, tweet, or Facebook page anything attached to or mentioning your place of work, make sure you clearly state the views expressed are your own. CYA - you know what I mean?
  • Be Kind & Be Yourself. Be true to yourself, respect others, and more importantly be kind (and transparent). Remember you get what you give; this is so true when it comes to social media. You must listen first and then others will listen to you.
  • Don't post "unflattering" pictures. If you have a great stag party, ban the cameras. Your next employer might not think fondly of the picture of you taped to a street pole in the nude.
  • Don't post status updates when you're angry or upset. Remember once something is out there in the net-sphere you can't take it back. Our lives are now a running commentary of online publishing. This can also apply to politics and religion. It's best to stay neutral on certain topics rather than offend others. Unless of course you are a politician or religious leader; in which case people know what they're signing up for.
  • Really Need to Say More - Then Get a Blog. If you have ever tried to follow the stream of consciousness that is @CourtneyLoveUK you know that Twitter isn't for posting a 3000 word essay in a matter of minutes. Perhaps good ‘ol Courtney is the only one who can get away with this as it really gives us insight to her as a person… and she's one ‘off the wall' gal.
  • Don't over post your own marketing message. If you continually post your message and promote yourself though out the day people will soon lose interest. A good practice is to only self-promote every four or five posts.
  • Remember Social Media is about connecting NOT selling. At some point every network marketer in the world joined Twitter to try and sell their money making opportunity schemes. Ramming a contestant barrage of ‘get rich quick' messages into your twitter stream is possibly the best way to get ignored and blocked. Honestly, these guys are spoiling the fun for everyone else. *Hiss - Spit* as my Kiton would say.
  • Don't gossip or bad mouth others. Eventually the person you're talking about will see it. Then what will you say?
  • Give credit where credit is due. If you retweet, share, or post something to your own blog make sure you give credit to the original source. Plagiarism is the same online and off.
  • Respect the social circle of others. Refrain from posting anything in bad taste on another persons Facebook wall or blog. Remember their family, friends, and children will see it. In turn, if you're not sure a friend would like you to put pictures of them and their family on your page, don't do it until you ask them for permission first.
  • No Numbers. No Numbers. No Numbers. If you want followers on twitter, then you should follow. It's about finding like minded people and interacting with them. Unless you're @StephenFry and have been publicly deemed a Twitter-God (yes OK I'm a bit biased when it comes to Stephen) you need to take part in the conversations. You can only see the conversations by following others. Try to follow other like-minded people by searching for similar interests and using #hashtags - not hash tags; that would be something totally different. ;) But always remember… you're worth isn't defined by the number of followers you have.

    And finally…
  • Please stop linking your Twitter and FourSquare updates to LinkedIn & Facebook. This is just as bad and the eleventy-million Farmville & Mafia Wars updates that can overtake your Facebook page. I admit, I was guilty of this for awhile as I posted tweets on LinkedIn, but I've taken on board the valuable lesson that different channels are for different messages. People just aren't interested in what you had for dinner when they log in to update their resume on LinkedIn. If you're posting work related messages about a business meeting or conference you may get a pardon. Make sure you update your individual site settings so you're not spamming all your friends and coworkers across all channels. If you really want to post to LinkedIn and Facebook do it separately or use the #in tag. If all else fails, we all have the power to click 'hide'.

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