Social media etiquette tips

It is increasingly difficult to sort, filter, and manage lists of ‘quality’ connections to ensure that the time you spend reading content is not wasted. I have built lists using my preferred keywords and hashtags; I have identified the industries I want to follow; the brands I want to track; the thought leaders I respect; plus a bunch of other categories. Even so the volumes are difficult to manage as effectively as I would like.

Recently I have adopted a few arbitary criteria for deleting people from my lists. These include those who don’t publish profile photographs or fail to offer a biography; those who lack the courtesy to acknowledge blog comments or retweets; and those who seem to think I am their best friend ever and therefore want to sell me something even though we only just connected!

This got me thinking about the wider issue of etiquette when it comes to social media interactions. The following tips are an extract of a recent article on Business 2 Community, the link to the full article follows:[quote style="1"]

#1: Have a professional social presence.

Obviously, in order to network online, you’ve got to be established on various social media sites. Decide what platforms you’re going to use the most – certainly don’t feel like you have to use all of them. For example, I prefer to use my Facebook for keeping in touch with my friends and family, so I don’t really network with that like I do with Twitter.

Make sure those profiles are professional. I can’t stress that enough. If you want to meet professionals, that’s exactly what you have to be. No email addresses or account names. No default image of you with a disembodied arm around your shoulder. Keep it professional.

And speaking of presence: be present. If you’re only working at this every so often, it’s not going to work. Make a commitment and be there.

#2: Introduce yourself and build relationships naturally before asking for favors.

You’d be surprised (or maybe not) how often it happens that some form of this takes place (this is a made-up name, by the way):

@ContentWritingRocks: Hey @IndustryThoughtLeader! I know we’ve never met, but would you take a look at my blog and give me some feedback?

My guess is that you wouldn’t walk up to a random person on the street and ask them to proofread your resume, so don’t treat people on social media like that.

Instead, build relationships organically like you would in real life. Once you are regularly interacting with someone and you have some kind of connection, then you can ask for favors.

#3: Don’t spam people with your content.

If you’ve spent any time at all on LinkedIn, you know exactly what I’m talking about. People are on a discussion board having a great conversation, when all of a sudden Joe and Jodi Schmoe show up and start posting shady links that potentially lead to a site of ill repute. Or worse: they break up the conversation begging for someone to read their blog posts and leave feedback.

I’ve seen this happen during Twitter chats too. Everyone is all a-twitter when suddenly someone breaks the flow of conversation. “I’m sorry I can’t make it tonight, but here’s my latest blog post!”

That’s not okay.

If you want to share one of your blog posts, make sure first that it’s relevant to the conversation. Participate in the conversation and discuss some of your ideas without mentioning the blog post. If, at the end, you feel that the others would enjoy your post or benefit from it, then include the link with some thoughtful commentary.

I liken all of this to the eTrade commercial in which one of the babies is singing the classic Mr. Mister ballad, “Broken Wings.” The other tells him to stop because “it’s not the venue.”

In other words, recognize the time and place for including your links (or “flexing the golden pipes,” as it were).

#4: Don’t play up relationships with others or name-drop for gain.

This is a no-brainer (I thought), but apparently some people don’t get it. They want to drop lines into blog posts that say things like “my friend Chris Brogan” or “my mentor Seth Godin” when, in fact, they have no existing relationship with either of these men.

If you manage to catch the attention of a big name, fabulous! But don’t make that interaction into a relationship that it isn’t. In other words, if you receive a “thank you” tweet from someone, you can’t really claim that person to be your friend or mentor. Know what I mean?

Before you feel tempted to build up relationships or name drop, ask yourself if that person would agree with you (or, in some cases, if that person would even know you).

This doesn’t hold true for big names only, either. You should never fabricate your relationship with anyone. Period.

#5: Don’t suck up.

Sometimes it really hurts to watch the old Twitter stream. You see people throwing themselves at other tweeters, really laying it on thick.

“Oh, Mr. So-and-So, yours is the only blog I EVER read! You are just the nicest person in the world!”

“Hey, everybody I know! I just want you and Mrs. What’s-Her-Name to know that I think she’s awesome!”

These messages aren’t really bad on their own. Everyone enjoys being paid a compliment every now and again, right? Everyone likes to hear praise and to know that their work is appreciated and benefiting someone.

The sucking up problem starts when this praise is doled out on a daily basis, and sometimes numerous times a day. I hate to be the Negative Nancy here, but no one is awesome 24/7/365. They just aren’t.

. Ask them questions, converse with them, but develop your own opinions. Don’t throw yourself down at anyone’s feet and treat them like the best thing to ever happen to the Milky Way Galaxy….More at Etiquette Tips for Networking on Social Media | Business 2 Community[/quote]

In my view these are the absolute fundamentals of good networking behaviour whether online or offline. But this is not always enough.  The following News 4 Geeks article adds a host of further ‘commandments’ that should apply, amusingly presented yet very pertinent:

The 10 commandments of social media etiquette |


Behold the ten commandments of social media etiquette. Read them. Study them. Write them on the tablet of your heart. Together, we can avoid spiraling down into the pits of social media hell (a.k.a. MySpace, circa 2004).

There are some helpful Do’s and Don’ts in the following article to round things off:

20 tips for improving your social media etiquette | Styling You

20 tips for improving your social media etiquette. One of my journo-former-life jobs was to edit the Letters to the Editor pages. It was not a job that I looked forward to each day. At all. Mostly that was because of the largely

I hope this was helpful, please do add your opinions and views plus any good tips you may have.


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About Peter

Peter Rees is a Digital Marketer and Internet Consultant, specialising in web analytics; social media policy & strategy development; digital marketing and; sourcing web solutions. With a wealth of experience, gained over many years working at senior executive levels in large corporates, he brings a unique perspective on how SMEs can best exploit the web. Connect with