Mind Your Social Media Manners – An Introduction

Chew with your mouth closed, keep your elbows off the table, place the fork to the left of the plate.

Most of us know proper dinner table etiquette, proper business etiquette, and – good GOSH, I would hope – proper bathroom etiquette. But do we have the first clue about social media etiquette? Or are we that friend on Facebook?

Etiquette is part of the image we project to others in just about every aspect of life. And what aspect of our life is growing more rapidly than the amount of time we spend online? Time spent on social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, where we interact with family, friends, coworkers, and clients – often simultaneously.

This begs some interesting questions: When it comes to social media etiquette or “netiquette,” do the same rules of traditional social etiquette apply? Are certain behaviors more acceptable in the online world than in the offline world? Are there “unspoken” social media manners by which we should all abide? Is it okay for personal and professional worlds to collide?

No one’s yet wrote the definitive book on social media etiquette, although Emily Post has a couple of things to say on the topic, and there’s this Facebook etiquette study by two University of Arizona grad students, including their top 10 tips every Facebook user should abide by if they want to keep their friends. (I love this one: Facebook friends chat. Real friends chat in person. SO TRUE.)

Plenty of other websites have written articles on social networking etiquette, like PCWorld’s 10 Commandments of Social Media Etiquette, with commandments such as: Thou Shalt Not Share Information That Maketh Sense Only to Thyself. (YESSSS.)

Facebook etiquette | online etiquetteEven some Wharton School profs have weighed in. Marketing professor Patricia Williams noted, “There is the self we are for our friends, a self for our family [and] a professional self. What’s interesting is the degree to which we are comfortable playing all of those ‘selves’ at one time.”

And, of course, we at the TKGenius Blog have some thoughts of our own. It’s fascinating stuff, really – managing these online multiple selves. And sorting it all out is the reason for this next blog series on social media etiquette.

We figured we could do one better than your average “Top 10 Do’s and Don’ts” list, so we’ll be breaking down different elements of each social media platforms, starting with Facebook. Why Facebook? Well, it has 750 million users, and frankly, that translates to an awfully big “community” of people with A LOT of unspoken rules and assumptions about proper etiquette.

These are the sorts of questions we’ll tackle:

  • Facebook Status Updates: What does your status say about you? What’s the ideal frequency of status updates? What’s on and off limits? What status updates are ideal? What updates do you loathe?
  • Facebook Friending: Ever received a friend request from someone you don’t know?  Or your boss? Or someone you met for 10 minutes at a party? What if you want to unfriend someone? What if your mom starts friending your friends?
  • Facebook Commenting: How much commenting and liking is the right amount? What do you do about an over-commenter in your midst?

Pinterest etiquette | Social Media Etiquette(And please, if there’s an etiquette question you’d like us to answer, mention it in the comments, and we’ll see what we can do.)

In the meantime, check back for my first “real” post in the series on the Facebook STATUS UPDATE. Yikes! Arguably ground zero for all social media.

This should be fun…:)

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