Wait, what on earth is “social media etiquette”? Is that even a thing? Well, if you’re asking this question, this is a sign that you may need a little (well-meant) advice! There is such a thing as social media etiquette, and what that means is that there are certain things that are appropriate for posting, and certain things that, well, aren’t.
For example, we’re very sorry to tell you this, but most of your Facebook friends don’t need or want to know much of what you may be telling them. Like what, you say? Well, like that 5th selfie of the day (a “selfie” is a photo you take of yourself, for those who aren’t down with the lingo)probably not necessary, especially if it’s yet another photo in which you are posing as if you’re on a singles website looking for a date. (Ahem.) Stop for a moment and ask yourself, “Why am I posting this? Am I looking for approval or do I genuinely think this photo/story about my day/event will help someone?”
This also goes for all those posts about what you’re having for breakfast. Unless you’re in a 5-star restaurant in Paris on your dream vacation, we probably don’t need to hear about – or see a photo of – your bagel and cream cheese.
Also, friends, let’s keep the bragging to a minimum. Think about that person you don’t really like to be around, who’s always trying to one-up people she’s speaking to, always boasting about her kid or her achievements or her genius-level poodle. It’s not fun to encounter her in person, and it’s not fun to encounter on social media. This kind of behavior tends to drive people away – friends, colleagues, business contacts. Let your success show itself in the way you support others and spread good energy; basically, be the kind of person other people brag on—instead of doing the bragging yourself.
Next, unless your business – or your friendships – rest on a snarky, uncouth, or foul-mouthed persona, leave the ranting and swearing and complaining out of your posts. Again, this is the sort of behavior that turns people off in person, and online. Remember, too, that tone of voice can be very difficult to interpret or convey through written words. Sarcasm is an especially difficult position to communicate in words, and as a result, your tone can come across as vastly different to different people. Which means you may offend or confuse people, and you probably don’t want to do that, right? Leave that to the off-color comedians and controversial TV personalities.
Finally, remember that posting on social media takes only a few seconds, but in many cases you can’t “take it back” once it’s out there. Impulsivity can be your worst enemy. As can a false sense of anonymity (hence the rising problem of cyber-bullying, in which cowards hide behind social media when attacking others). Your best bet with social media is to pause momentarily before hitting “post” or “send” and ask yourself, “Why am I posting this? Is it helpful? Productive? Intelligent? Or is it selfish, seeking approval, destructive, potentially offensive?” Doing a brief self-assessment can help you step back and learn a bit more about yourself and your motives; hopefully, it’ll also help you make sound choices moving forward.