The same social rules apply online as they do offline

A conversation I have over and over with clients when it comes to social media is the fact that social is social.  People are on social media channels to connect, communicate with their friends & research. You need to remember the context of social and as a business trying to sell a product on social media, you have to remind yourself you are interrupting your prospective customers when they are connecting and communicating with their friends.

You wouldn’t walk up to someone who is in mid conversation and put a product in front of their face and ask them to buy it, would you? That is exactly what you are doing on social media so mind your manners.

Think of social media like the online version of our everyday life. We have friends, acquaintances, people we want to get to know IRL (in real life) and the same applies to our online communities.

Social media, according to its definition is all about an electronic service and was defined in 1997 as a place where internet users can be entertained, communicate, and participate in a social environment.

Social media does provide a social lubricant and I think most people are more comfortable sharing on social media than face to face.  This poses the question ‘does social media require special rules’?

The same social etiquette rules should apply online as they do offline. Why is it that we think it is ok to act differently online as we do in real life? Do we feel more confident and bolder because we are hiding behind a screen? There is an anonymity component to a degree and it may be considered less confrontational to make a comment on someone’s Facebook page compared to saying the same thing to their face.

Your social networks are a collection of people you want to have in your community. Imagine you invited them all to a real life event. How would you approach them? Shouldn’t they be treated the same way online as they would be if you were in the same room as them? Often it is not the case and you can take Cyber Bullying as an example of this. Cyber bullies hide behind their screens and in real life, their bravado would be much different.

Some rules to stick to on social media

  • Is your post mum friendly? Would she approve?
  • When making a comment, consider if you would you say the same thing to that person’s face
  • Think thrice before posting a negative comment
  • What is appropriate to share? TMI is rampant on social media
  • Ask yourself “will I offend anyone with this content?” If so, who?
  • Will I be okay with absolutely anyone seeing this?
  • Is this really something I want to share, or is it just me venting?
  • Am I using this as an emotional dumping ground? If so, why? Is a different outlet better for these purposes?
  • Never post when you’re overly tired, jet lagged, intoxicated, angry or upset.
  • Don’t put anything on the Internet that you don’t want your future boss, current client or potential clients to read
  • Don’t approach strangers and ask them to be friends with you just so you can then try to sell them on your products or services.

While it’s great to connect with friends and colleagues anywhere and at any time, this connectivity carries risks. A careless tweet or Facebook post can alienate your loved ones and jeopardize your job. Remember following proper etiquette can protect you from unfortunate social backlashes and issues in the future.