Common sense should guide us in the right direction; one would think. This isn’t always the case when it comes to using social media. Social media addicts tend to jump right in with thumbs fiddling away on tiny keyboards with no brain attached. People take pictures of others and post directly to Twitter, Instagram and Facebook without considering the implications of posting without permission or even if it is polite.
This is why etiquette is so important. Knowing proper netiquette helps keep us from embarrassing others and ourselves. It also helps save our relationships. Yes, breaking those pesky netiquette rules can cause irreparable damage.
Don’t post without permission!
This number one rule seems obvious, but obviously, it isn’t since so many are breaking this simple rule. Case in point, very recently a relatively well-known, sports-celeb couple was in the news for more than hitting balls around. The tennis player half of the couple posted a less than complimentary picture of her golf playing significant other on twitter. The post caused a tsunami of negative responses and rumors of their splitting. Why? It’s disrespectful, dismissive and thoughtless.
My advice, as an etiquette professional, is to consider what impact a post may have before posting. Use your brain before hitting the keys.
Trolls don’t always hang out under bridges.
Ever scroll down to the comment part of a webpage and feel as if you’re about to lose your lunch? Yep, the trolls got here first. These are the people, who from behind their keyboard, attack others with the most negative, sometimes unreadable, nonsense imaginable. Many use social media in the same manner. They make it a game following each other from one topic to another making comments more negative than the one preceding theirs. Clever? …no, just hurtful.
My advice: consider how your words may affect others. Words can hurt deeply. Don’t cause others harm just because you can.
Pay it forward, even on the Internet.
Joining a social networking site shouldn’t be about gaining the most followers. There should be some reason for doing so. Many of us, like me, hope to build our business by sending a positive message — without spamming — about who we are and what we do. This isn’t a bad idea for all people, no matter the motivation to subscribe. Sending a positive message also includes repaying others for their devotion to your words by returning the favor–when possible.
My advice: send positive messages to your followers without spamming, while avoiding posting multiple posts on the same topic. Also, consider following the followers who truly interest you.
Nice is priceless
Finally, it pays to be nice. A few years ago, a young singer who shares my name became an overnight success with her YouTube video. Because of the name confusion, the trolls hit my Twitter page with toxic comments that could make a less battle-scarred etiquette professional blush. Instead of fighting back in kind, I chose to use this as a teaching tool. When one Tweeter posted this one day after the devastated tsunami in Japan, “@rebeccablack…Ur voice is @#%& annoying! Jus end ur career,” I replied, “The tragedy in Japan and all in need is much more important than my name and the singer who shares it. Compassion?”
My advice: It’s so easy to be kind and much more satisfying. Due to my positive responses, I gained many more followers and requests for interviews than I had before. Net-net, it paid to be nice.
More by Rebecca
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Office Etiquette 101: How to Deal with Irritating, Loud, Sick and Clueless Coworkers