Social Media Etiquette

originally posted on Concept Hub

I was seeking inspiration for today’s blog post and Stacy Williams suggested that I write about Social Media Etiquette.

That is a topic that comes up often, and I never have real exact answers or any playbook that I use with the exception that social media etiquette is similar to regular ol’ business etiquette.

Basically, we introduce ourselves to people we want to meet. We speak socially as well as explore where some synergies might occur. We share information of interests and as we get to know each other we might ask and or offer to introduce each other to people they “should know.”

Obviously, spam is just plain wrong. This past week there was a spammer in my Ning communities writing on everyone’s wall that she just learned about these fabulous ringtones. That is outright spam. But so were the times when people were using Google to search out blog posts about enterprise 2.0 so that they could post a comment to pitch their software. I let it slide on the first post they commented on but when the same comment hit the second post on the same day I had to politely ask them to not spam my site.

What other social media etiquette rules are broken too often?

Kristin Colier mentioned that

I don’t like to be followed in one tweet – and attempt to be sold something in the next… I mean – if you’ve got a great product – I might want to buy it once I see what you have to say… but … at least (as the old saying goes) buy me a drink first. (or a Dwink).

Justin Rubner says

Devoting too much of your Facebook account to marketing and too much of your Twitter account to mindless chatter.

I agree with both insights.

I also came across Greg Verdin’s blog expressing his frustration that people’s Facebook status updates are simply feeds from their Twitter account, and therefore are often without context.

That made me question the technology that people use to make managing social networks easier to manage – such as automatic responses.

That also got me to thinking about non-responses. Many people have been surprised when I have mentioned to them that not only is it OK to comment after someone comments on your blog, but that you should comment.

Social Media has allowed us to have a dialog with each other on a mass scale without the limits of geography or time. But we still have many other limits that we have to keep in mind as we engage in online conversations.

When someone is speaking to me in person, I can make eye contact, smile, nod my head, and provide many other visual cues that let the other person know that I am listening. Online the only way a person knows you are listening is if you respond to their comments.

We also need to consider our “tone” or choice of words more carefully online. When we are commenting on other people’s blogs or on the walls of their social networks, we have to remember we are virtually coming into their space. We must be respectful. We also need to realize what we say is transparent for many people to read and interpret in many different ways, so we need to think about how our words might come across to many people. Words such as “you” can come across as accusatory, inside jokes that you and a friend share can come across as slander, and so forth.

Finally, one that came up for me recently is that we need to respect which communication tools people prefer to use. Some people really do want to keep their Facebook profile just for close friends and family and should not feel obligated to allow co-workers and peers into their circle of friends. Believe it or not, not everyone is a huge fan of twitter and constantly connected. With so many communication channels available, we need to start asking the questions how would you like me to connect with you and what is your preferred method for communication?

These are only a few of the learning curves that we are facing as many personalities and cultures clash on the social world wide web. I would love to hear what you have encountered, what you find frustrating and/or questionable.

Also, here are a couple other links I found with some helpful information;

The Ultimate Social Media Etiquette Handbook

Etiquette in the Age of Social Media