Mind Your Virtual Manners: Social Media Etiquette


Sharon Schweitzer of NSIDE Business wrote a fantastic article that was shared with me on LinkedIN this morning. As we all go out into the Twittersphere and wander around the Facespace, we would do well to remember that we are leaving a digital trail that adds up to a personality REALLY quickly.

I’ve included her high level bullets below, but for the full article, click here.

When executives or corporations post, tweet or upload content, they leave a digital footprint on the Internet. Unfortunately, there are several misconceptions about social media – namely, that there are no rules, and that we can do or say whatever we wish without consequences.

The truth is that an online personality develops and takes shape quickly. And if the online community determines, for example, that an executive is a shameless self-promoter, that executive will get blocked, buried or un-followed.

It is not difficult to follow the rules of social media etiquette and understand the boundaries. Consider the following guidelines, which may provide insight as you navigate social media:

1. Understand the platform: Read and understand the terms of service and the engagement framework for each social media platform, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and more. Each technology platform caters to a different professional or social market.

2. Social media is not private: Select the privacy settings manually on Facebook – the default settings are minimal. Remember that even deactivated content remains on the Facebook server. In 2010, the Library of Congress started collecting Twitter posts, as well. Recruiters and employers routinely “vet” candidates by running their names through social media.

3. Introduce yourself first.

4. Be a relationship builder.

5. Respect: Be respectful of others’ opinions even if you do not agree with them.

6. Share content, and add value.

7. Focus on quality over quantity: Avoid swamping and annoying your followers.

8. Tame your ego.

9. Admit mistakes.

10. Set boundaries and limits.

Failing to follow social media etiquette can be disastrous. The list of those who have failed to follow social media etiquette is long and all too familiar. The difference between a faux pas made in private and one that occurs online is sheer scale. There is nowhere to hide on the Internet, and the viral nature of the channels means that bad news spreads like wildfire.


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