Since the launch of Facebook in 2004 and Twitter in 2006, people have quickly adapted to using social networks as a main method of communication with friends and family. During this time, social media users have developed norms and expectations related to proper social media use and etiquette.
No matter how sophisticated you think your use of social media is, you must always be aware of its range. As easy as it is to feel anxious about a post, it’s just as easy to post something without thinking of that particular posts’ consequences. With that said it is extremely important to know how to use social media.
If you have to start looking at how many potential people can see your comments on social networks, you will be pretty amazed. Take Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Google+ and ten more networks still to come, then multiply those by your number of your friends, times the number of their personal and business contacts, and you will get an idea of how many people might see your post on your social network posts.
In general, there are some tips what to do and what not to do when you are in social networks. This is particularly relevant if you are in the business world or you are applying for a new job.
What NOT to do:
- Never share sensitive or private information that you do not want others to know about. The problem with a social network is whatever you share, no matter how secure or safe your post is, it still forms part of a social network and still can be seen by others. Whatever you share can always get out. Discussing financial information or other information pertaining to clients, can severely irritate clients, employees, and others. A good rule of thumb is never to share information that isn’t about you.
- Be very careful what kind of information you share on Facebook or Twitter, and also the language that you use. For example – a person went for a job interview and received a verbal job offer. The same evening he posted on Facebook how drunk he was that night and with what a hangover he will go to work the first day. The person’s job offer was withdrawn.
- When working for a business, you are tied to that business, no matter if you act in your private capacity. If you curse and speak ill of others, you are connected to your business – especially when you are in the public eye. Social media such as Twitter and Facebook puts you in the public eye, so be very careful.
- Never make derogatory comments about employers or their practices. Everyone wants to vent about workplace situations occasionally, but negative comments can get you fired. Negative comments that are untrue can get you sued.
- The games available on Facebook could land you in deep trouble with your employer. In general it is not good etiquette to play such games in work time. Even though you think no one can see, there are ways that employers will be able to see, and then you are in big trouble.
- Make derogatory comments about customers. Funny customer stories happen daily, but sharing online, even if it can’t get back to the customer makes others feel like your company enjoys gossip. Avoid sharing your negative feelings about your company, co workers or campaign you are working on. Not everyone needs to know what is on your mind, and should one of your co-worker “friends” share your discontent with your employer, it could cost you your job. If you are doing a promotion for a cheese company, and you think very little of the specific cheese and the client, keep it to yourself. Many clients have “trackers” on social media which means that every time you mention them in whichever capacity, they pick it up and review it.
- Before clicking “send” on any social media or communication medium, ask yourself if you’d mind seeing it on the front page of the New York Times. Do not to post anything that would embarrass yourself. There is no reason to be rude to your colleagues or friends, even if you feel frustrated.
- There is a fine line between public and private spaces. Are you sharing something brilliant that can help others in general, or starting a discussion that will specifically benefit your employer? Don’t be that guy who cc’s 20 colleagues or sends a broadcast message with something irrelevant. Believe me – no one is going to die if you don’t forward to 20 friends and you are not going to win large sums of money if you do. This is considered spamming.
- Remember that if something is in writing, it exists. Just because you post to a private space or send a note to someone’s inbox, doesn’t mean it won’t find its way into the hands of someone else later. If you mistreat someone in an email, there’s always a chance that this person may see it – whether accidentally or on purpose. Be very careful what you put in writing.
- Just because someone told you something in another channel, it doesn’t mean you can repost it automatically, unless it was posted in a public space like Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. If you’d like to repost something, make sure that the original author has approved. If you are adding new participants to an existing email thread or a private group – make sure that existing participants feel comfortable that this new person will be able to see what’s already been written.
- Treat your colleagues the way you’d want to be treated at work. Don’t be the employee who publicly shames a co-worker to coerce him into action. Never write something out of anger, spite or personal vendetta. Never air your dirty laundry in public. Any social media medium is open to the public and nothing is deemed private.
- Never write something in anger, from high resounding emotions or a personal vendetta. One should never hang your dirty laundry in public. Any social media is open to the public and not be regarded as private. For example, a sad brother writes about his sister’s death, which happened in a controversial way and share it on Facebook with his friends. A well-known newspaper picks up the post and does a media placement in which the brother’s message is repeated.
What is appropriate?
- Positive stories about employers, colleagues, clients and projects are acceptable. Just make sure that what you are sharing, is not considered as private. The sharing of something positive helps to create a good feeling between yourself and your business.
- Feel free to praise your employer on social media. It carries the message that you are proud to work for your employer.
- Make sure your spelling and grammar is correct before you do a post. It creates a bad impression when SMS language or misspellings are used on social media.
General business tips:
- Never make promises that you know you can’t keep.
- If you told someone you will send e.g. a quotation in an hour’s time or that you will phone back, make sure to do it. There are few things that are more irritating for a client to follow up with a supplier.