There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to what social media is about. Many people seem to think that every day standards and decency can get thrown out because the Internet is so anonymous. The reality is, that’s not always the case. First off, the Internet is not as anonymous as it used to be. With that, I mean that it’s getting easier and easier to find out who people are. You know the saying “It’s a small world.” Well that is just as true for the Internet, especially social networking sites. Everyone is connected one way or another and that means the whole “Six Degrees of Separation” thing is even tighter thanks to your Facebook friends and Twitter followers.
Below are the Ten rules of Social Media/Social Networking that we should all try and follow. They will not only make you a better social networker, but they will make the people who follow you, that much more appreciative of what you have to say.
1. Don’t Be a Narcissist
Contrary to popular belief, Social media is not all about you. It’s about people. It’s about being social, That’s why it’s called “Social Networking”. Take the time to engage in conversation. Don’t simply sign on and post something about yourself and then sign out.
For every post that you make about yourself you should dedicate at least two or three to engaging others in conversation. This can be Retweeting what they’ve said, commenting on their photo album, or post, asking them how their day is etc. A little bit of contact goes a long way in the social media world. Human contact is what the whole concept of social networking is based on.
You need to take part in the community and become part of the conversation. Social media is about relationship building and if you’re just spouting out posts and Tweets about yourself then people will quickly lose interest in you and what you have to say.
2. Listen to What Other People Are Saying
This ties in with number 1; social media is all about engaging with others, and to do that you need to listen to what they have to say as well. Actively participating in conversation helps build relationships and listening is the most important part.
There is a lot of software that can not only help you listen but can also help you engage with everyone. An application like TweetDeck is a great tool for monitoring and engaging multiple conversations that are happening. Apps like TweetDeck are so powerful because you can not only monitor Twitter but you can get feeds from Facebook and any other social network that will push your posts to Twitter.
In addition, Think before you throw up a comment, or turn your comments into a giant burn fest. It’s not about you showing off, it’s about exchange.
3. No Spam
If you’ve been using email for a while, then this shouldn’t come as a surprise at all. Don’t spam your friends and followers with promotional links, chain letters, game requests, and other useless garbage that just gets tossed in the trash, hidden, or deleted.
Think about what you post. Just because you think it’s cute to show 100 pictures of your 2-year-old rolling around on the floor doesn’t mean that anyone else will. Now stop and think about all of the things that make you roll your eyes when you read them on social networking sites. Do you do any of those things? If so, stop.
Facebook and Twitter were not designed to promote the stuff you are selling, or what your business is hocking today. That is what fan pages are for, what links to external sites are for. Your status shouldn’t be about the big sale your company is promoting, or the book your company just published, or the stuff you are selling on Etsy.
4. Say Something Worth Saying
How often do you get Facebook to find Jimmy blabbering on about his latest conquest, or leaving some cryptic post like “Guess I had that coming”? How many times have you seen Stephanie complain about how she got out of work late, or how her friends annoy her? Do people like this actually ever say anything? Usually not.
People often use to social media sites to air their dirty laundry and complain about something. Would they be doing the same in front of a group of their acquaintances, coworkers, and prospective employers? Probably not. So why online? Here is a fact, out of all the people following you on Twitter, or signed up as your friend on Facebook, most of them are not close enough friends to post this stuff. Not only that, if they comment on your status, there is a pretty solid chance that any number of the friends, the people you have nothing to do with, can see your post too.
Scott Stratten, UnMarketing about posting on Twitter.
“Don’t tweet anything you wouldn’t want to see on a billboard with your name/face/logo/phone # and your mom driving by.”
This is so true, and it applies to all social networking sites. 90 percent of us wouldn’t be saying half of what gets said online if it were being said in real life so why do it? If anything, what is said online is worse for your reputation than saying it in person. Why? Because it’s online where people can find it and reference it at any time. It lives on, and it is in black and white. What you post online will not fade with time.
Just like in real life; this rule is simple. Watch what you say and whom you say it to, because you never know when it is going to come back to haunt you.
5. Don’t Abuse Your Neighbor
Tying in to the previous comment comes another rule that you would think would be pretty obvious but sadly it’s not. Don’t slam people online. Flaming on the Internet has been around since the beginning and it’s just as unacceptable now as it was then. Nobody wants to go online and then be verbally assaulted their beliefs and opinions. It’s just not cool. Not only does it make you look bad, but it makes you look bad to everyone that reads your comment. And like I said earlier, it can be larger than you think. Much larger. You have no control over who reads what you place on a social network, and you don’t want it to come back and bite you later.
You all know the saying; “If you can’t say something nice then don’t say anything at all.” Just because you’re on Facebook or Twitter doesn’t make it OK for you to burn someone. Chances are you’re not going to openly mock or humiliate someone in person so why do it online?
I have a personal rule, for all social networking sites. You get 3 strikes, you burn me, bash me, or post something about me that can be misconstrued or taken in a harmful way. Your gone. I’ll “unfriend” you so fast you won’t know what hit you. And once you have been removed from the circle of trust…
6. Give Credit Where Credit is Due This post was inspired by By Robb Clarke at noupe. See it’s not that hard.
This happens all the time, especially on Twitter and it’s just wrong. Stealing someone else’s ideas, quotes, pictures, whatever, is the same as plagiarism, it’s amateurish, and there is a solid chance you will get caught. Especially if someone really takes interest in what you have posted and starts searching for additional information on the subject.
Here’s an example of the proper way to give someone credit for what they’ve said on Twitter.
Now with that said, it’s perfectly acceptable to truncate words and paraphrase what was said if Retweeting takes up more than the allotted 140 characters, and you let people know it’s a ReTweet.
7. Learn How to Spell
This one should be pretty obvious. Learn to spell and use grammar and punctuation properly. no-one is going to take what you’re saying seriously if it’s full of spelling and grammatical errors.
It’s in your best interest to either run your post through a spell checker, or a program like word, before you send it out to the world. And if you are linking to a blog post of yours, you might want to type the whole thing out in a program like Word in the first place regardless. It will help with your grammar, and spelling. You will sound smarter.
If nothing else use a browser that has a built-in spell checker. It won’t catch everything but it will put a dent into your typos.
8. Use Real Words
The previous comment leads us into this next one. Try your best to use real words. Seriously. Social media has turned people into absolutely horrible spellers and text and instant messaging are even worse. Quit with the OMGs, the LOLs, the WTFs and the ROFLs on such a regular basis.
I love this Tweet by Neil Patrick Harris making fun of people doing this.
“Prfkt. Thx 4 L th advyc evry1. This s a way ezr way 2 cmuNik8. Un42n8ly, itz takn me 3 hrz 2 ryt, but itz much pre4d 2 gtn cut off lyk i u”.
I have no clue as to what he said and that’s sort of the point. It shouldn’t take all day to try and decipher your 140 characters on Twitter. We all do it to save time and space, but did you actually cut seconds off of your posting time or did it really take more time in order to be clever and come up with it?
9. Think About Your Link
Websites like TinyURL, Cli.gs and Bit.ly all offer a brilliant service; they take your exceptionally long URLs and turn them into short usable ones, perfect for the 140 character limiting Twitter. These sites do have a downside though, they don’t tell you anything, and if you Tweet a short URL with some lame description, what is the motivation to click through to the content you posted? Here is an example.
“Now streamiing LIVE video comes to your iPhone. Knocking Live Video Ap– #in RT @thinkbox: http://bit.ly/57VhZe” reads like Spam doesn’t it?
Or what about this,
“FaceBook had more video views in Oct. than HULU. Time to add more video to your program? #in http://bit.ly/58qRDN”
Sounds like Spam again. If you get rid of the relevant context, you are going to lose people. Now imagine trying to sift through a hundred or so of these in Twitter or Facebook.
10. Don’t Be a Friend Whore
Finally don’t be a friend whore. Social networking isn’t a contest to see how many friends or followers you can accumulate. Having thousands or followers doesn’t mean you’re a better quality user, or have something to say. You see it all the time on Facebook and Twitter, people adding as many friends/followers as they can in hopes that they can simply to accumulate higher numbers. A Friend Whore Follows Three Users for Every One That Follows Them. At the end of the day Social media is not a contest. It’s that plain and simple.
Now with this said, I have to admit that I don’t always take my own advice or follow my own rules, but I’m trying.