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Tips for Social Media Etiquette

Tips for Social Media Etiquette

In the roaring ’20s before the great market crash, many people had become wealthy almost over night. However, their new-found financial status didn’t come with the knowledge of how to act properly in society. Emily Post took it upon herself to train the masses through her popular book, titled simply, Etiquette.

The word “etiquette,” translates from French as “little signs,” which refers to the miniature sign posts placed in public places that requested guests behave themselves with such instructions as “keep off the grass,” and “don’t wade in fountains,” etc.

Despite the waning popularity of respect in today’s society, the online community tends to enforce a set of unwritten “rules” of social media. Those who ignore or blatantly break these rules will be punished either by being exiled into the land of de-friend/un-follow or publicly blasted for rudeness (yes, that seems a bit hypocritical, but it happens). Before we delve too deep into our social media series, let’s take a few minutes to go over a few ways to make new friends and keep the old.

The Golden Rule of social media is — “Give More than You Receive.” All relationships are give and take, but statistics have proven that those who give online far more than they take gain the respect of others, which in turn spreads their influence and grows their communities.

If someone were to write the Social Media Book of Etiquette, it would include the following 18 tips:

  1. Participate – Even if you schedule updates to post automatically, log into your communities and hang out. This doesn’t have to take hours, but by investing a few minutes to interact will pay long dividends in your community building efforts.
  2. Play Nice — If you take issue with someone in one of your communities, email them privately. Don’t gossip or belittle other members or companies.
  3. Be an Encourager – Congratulate those who have reached goals through little warm fuzzies. Give a virtual hug to those who are struggling.
  4. Be Sincere – Phonies are often lambasted in social communities. Be genuine when you post comments and interact.
  5. Don’t Beg – You are not a 3-year-old walking past an ice cream stand. Don’t act like it. The best way to get others to notice you, read your blog, buy your product, etc., is to interact in a positive way within the communities you’ve chosen to join.
  6. Be Patient – As Seth Godin says, “Drip. Drip. Drip.” Remember that each drip contributes to the stream of traffic that is flowing toward your site!
  7. Put In Time — Don’t walk on the scene and expect to be an instant star. Putting In Time is the PITS, but it is how stars are born. Queen Latifah said it only took her 15 years to become an overnight success. She put in her time first.
  8. Offer Value – If you only implement one item on this list, this would be a good one to pick. Contributing thoughtful and informative comments and answering questions will build your respect within a community quicker than any other tactic. Plus, helping others just makes us feel better about ourselves.
  9. Guard Your Online Reputation – Implement a Google Alert for your name and/or blog name. See what others are saying about you. Make sure everything you post online is positive and easily understood so others won’t take it wrong.
  10. Say Please and Thank-you – Barney (the purple dinosaur) was right about that one. They really are the magic words.
  11. Be Relevant – I mentioned the “I Like Turtles” kid in a post about blog commenting. When you post, focus on contributing to the topic.
  12. Don’t Overdo It — Think of a very spoiled dog, vying for your attention. My dog, “Miss I’m Too Cute and Adorable to Potty Outside,” is extremely needy to the point of being annoying at times. While yes, she is adorable and we do dote on her, she often over-does her demands for attention.
  13. Smile – Use emoticons. A smile is a universal feel-good gesture. It’s always in vogue.
  14. Contribute Quality – A quick pat on the back comment, such as “Great post!” is encouraging to another blogger or community member, but a more helpful comment would be, “The tip you offered about ____ has made a big difference in my online media strategy. Thank you!”
  15. Listen to the Conversation – Read the other comments so you’ll know what’s already been said and see how you can interact, either by agreeing or disagreeing (politely, of course), asking a question, or explaining something more fully that someone may not have understood.
  16. Make Others Look Good – When I was hired at one company, the trainer told me that my job was to make my immediate supervisor look like the best supervisor in the place. That is leadership from the bottom up, and many companies would do well to train that principle to their employees. That was one of the most enjoyable job experiences I’ve had, and it’s a great principle to apply to all parts of our lives — family, friends, and within our online communities.
  17. Use Your Own Voice — Be natural and real within your communities. Let people get to know you as a person, not an electronic signature.
  18. Observe – How do the leaders of the community engage and interact with others? What can you learn by observing them?
  19. Any more? –What “social graces” have you picked up through your online community interactions? Add to this list in the comments section.

Think of social media interaction like a global game of ping-pong. Volley back and forth within your online communities. Sometimes you’ll score points, sometimes you won’t, but you the best part of social media interactions isn’t necessarily scoring — it’s enjoying the game.

  1. Sheila Covey05-05-11

    Thanks for the post, Linda! I’m off to “sign-up” for Google Alerts. 🙂

  2. Jenny Carlisle05-05-11

    One old rule that applies is “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Lack of replies to something sends a better message than a lot of negative feedback IMHO.
    Great Post, as always, Linda!

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