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Where are your manners? Social media etiquette goes a long way.

Over the past week I have been more active on Twitter by participating in multiple Twitter chats throughout the week. One thing I have noticed is that there are people on Twitter (or any social media platform) that will drive you just as crazy as the guy sitting 5 cubicals away. I started to observe how people interacted via SM platforms and realized that it is just important to use etiquette when engaging and interacting with people online as it is in person. Think about how you would behave if you were standing at a conference discussing business with a potential client. Now extend that to social media platforms where your reach can go far beyond what you can sometimes imagine.

In an effort to avoid people from blocking, removing, unfriending or unfollowing you – or just to avoid looking like an idiot or jerk on SM platforms, I share a few tips that come to mind.

  • Comment on other people’s posts/tweets – but make it a genuine comment and not just a link to promote yourself. Feedback is always appreciated but remember, if you post a comment on a blog it remains forever (unless the blog owner deletes it).
  • Share interesting things and give credit to where it came from. Those sharing buttons are there for a reason.
  • If someone retweets you and adds a compliment, thank-them for the retweet but avoid retweeting their compliment – it can seem pompous – particularly if it happens often.
  • Posting and reposting the same content every few minutes is self-promotion on steroids. This clogs up feeds quickly and can  begin to frustrate your followers and you may be considered a noisy tweeter. If you are interesting however and your posts/tweets are truly thoughtful and interesting, go right ahead – people will probably appreciate it.
  • Thinking you are too high and mighty to respond to or follow someone just because you don’t think they are worthy of your time. Social media is about having the ability to influence and engage with others. @DawnWesterberg wrote a great post about the ability of SM to connect you to those who you would never connect with in real life and truly have an impact. Don’t get caught up in thinking that you are too great – its an easy way for that attitude to begin to shine through your content and possibly lose some followers.
  • When including a link in your status/tweet etc, make sure the link is valid and it doesn’t lead people to questionable sites. If the link is purely promotional in nature, disclose that as well.  Misleading posts that sound valuable and interesting only leading followers to a site that is purely promotional for a purchase is deceiving.
  • Promote others and when the time comes, they will likely return the favor and promote you.
  • ‘Argue’ a point until you are blue in the face. This is particularly annoying during a twitter chat. I experienced this over the past week. Different view points are good and its what makes a conversation interesting and how we can all learn from others experiences. But when it is clear that your opinion differs from most other on a particular point, just move on instead of continually argue – far past the point when others have dismissed the subject. Agree to disagree.
  • Give back. Social media is about two-way interactions. Be sure to give back and do it more often than you get.

This is by far not comprehensive. But as I have increased my interactions lately, I have noticed some of these very things happening frequently – and many have driven me nuts and even tempted me to remove a few of the people I follow. When I meet a new contact at a conference, I don’t stand in front of them and argue my points, shout in the room when they send me a compliment, talk about ME ME ME every two seconds and then shove promotional materials in their face. If I did, I would likely never get their business or even respect. It is the same over social media. Make the connections, learn from others experiences, share your own, connect with people outside your normal social circles and contribute often. Some day, the person you have connected with just may give you business or refer you to someone who will.

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