I decided to write a blog about Social etiquette and how to engage people on-line. So I did my research to see what was out there already. I read a few blog posts and articles about Social Media etiquette, and while the guidance seemed accurate, it struck me as rather pedestrian.
Later on that day I was trying to talk to my kids about how to play nice with their friends, and be polite in social settings. That is when the lightbulb went on, everything you need to know about social media, you already learned when you were a kid.
So I changed my blog post, and instead of telling people how to act, I thought it would be more significant to illustrate that they already know what to do. I mean Social Media is still Social, so the basic rules of engaging with people hasn’t changed, the Medium has.
Don’t believe me, check out this list of 10 things we have been told, or have told our children, about how to behave in public:
- You have 2 Ears, and 1 Mouth, because you should listen twice as much as you speak.
Engagement is a two-way street, listen and share. You should take in at least twice as much content as you share.
- You are not learning when you are talking.
When you have something worth while to share, you will add value to the conversation. But you are only learning when you listen to the conversation and check out article, blogs, etc.
- No one will want to play with you if you complain all the time.
We all have that friend on Facebook that complains about life all the time. Or the person on Twitter that fires off angry tweets non stop. No one wants to hang out with negative people, you’ll be a downer.
- If someone is talking to you, it is polite to look at them and respond politely.
If people are engaging with you on Social Media (ReTweeting, Direct Messaging, Private Messaging, Liking, Commenting), it is polite to respond to them. Engage in conversation, or at least acknowledge them. If you don’t, they will ignore you too.
- Respect your elders.
If you come across supervisors, senior members of organizations, respected individuals on a Social site, give them the same respect you would in person…even if it is a little more casual.
- Don’t talk about yourself or brag (too much).
If all you do is talk about yourself, you have lost the point of Social Media. You are not being social, it just comes across as rude. I think the only exception would be someone of significant notoriety, in which your fans follow you just to hear about what you do all day. You better be pretty cool to pull this one-off.
- Don’t Gossip.
I treat gossip the same as stealing someone’s content. Don’t use Social Media to make statements like “this person said X,” and don’t steal someone else’s content and present it as your own. If you are fake or mean you will be quickly identified and ignored.
- Be Kind, but Don’t Let Someone Bully You
All the politeness in the world will only go so far with a rude person. If someone is not using Social appropriately, just unfriend/unfollow/unlike them. The lack of engagement will shut them down.
- Be wary of strangers
Social is great because we can network and connect with a broader group of people. But until you have an established relationship, be careful what you say or share with someone. This goes for the information on your profile.
- If you fail, it is okay, get up and try again
If you try something on social media and it doesn’t work, try again. No one reading your blog? Try a different audience or a different way to promote it. Have a Fan Page on Facebook with no traction? Shut it down and try Google+. Don’t get useful information from Twitter? Unfollow useless folks and follow new ones. Learn, Improve and Keep Trying.
So, just like the content I read on the web, none of this is Earth Shattering news. But when you realize that polite in person is the same as polite on Social, you realize you have no more fear of making a mistake. Just do it, get started, and learn as you go. There are plenty of people out there willing to point you in the right direction, if you are polite about it.