If you use social media it is imperative you know your manners. So many people write things on Facebook, Twitter and other sites that clearly indicate they did not think before posting. In fact, one of the hardest things to teach our children–the first generation of social media people– is that what you say in cyber space can effect you, even years later. Here are some simple tips to assure your social media manners are in tact.
1. Do not post anything disparaging about yourself or others. There are plenty of stories about people who have lost their jobs or not been hired because of what they post on sites like Facebook. If you got drunk last night or you don’t like your boss, it may not be such a great idea to post these things. Even if your intention is to post something in jest, think about whether it could compromise views of you as a professional. If a co-worker did something unethical and you post about it, you could wind up in trouble legally…it’s called slander. Some of the laws regarding slander and the internet are still evolving and will continue to do so, so be careful if you write about another person. If you even allude to that person (“my boss,” or “the secretary of my company”) that could possibly be slanderous too.
2. Do not use social media as puffery. Social media sites are used by some–those who don’t truly understand their purpose– as a means of self-promotion only. You will quickly lose friends and connections on sites like Facebook and Twitter if the majority of what you post is about you, promotion of your business, or what a great ___ you are. People want good content, not bragging. It is ok to talk about yourself and your business, but make sure to mix it in with a lot of good content–useful information that will make people want to read your posts.
3. Learn the benefits of the different types of social media to make the most of each. Each site is different and realistically, you can post different things on each. For example, I find many people do not understand the benefits of Twitter. I did not when I first created an account over a year ago. But what I have learned since is that Twitter is not a means of getting business so much as it is a means to connect with industry experts and learning from them. It is the content that matters here–you follow those whom you respect or have good content, read their blogs, and hopefully get some great ideas for your business, your blog, etc. This is not the place to post “Call me for the best service,” although there is a time where you can do so (for example, if you are a Realtor and you are promoting a listing).
Another example is Facebook, which is a bit different and can have long comment threads. Feel free to comment on topics but realize that you need to think first. If you make a strong political statement or bash an industry it could come back to haunt you later. I have a good friend who is a recruiter for a big company, and her job is to check all social media sites of an applicant before they are called for an interview. Be careful.
4. Remember what you post is a reflection of YOU and your business. This is perhaps one of the most important pieces of advice (and I have written entire blogs dedicated to it), yet I am constantly amazed at how many people do not use spell check or read through their posts before hitting send. Grammar mistakes, typos and poor use of words reflect that you do not take the time to proof what you write. This is not only unprofessional, but makes it look like you don’t care. Is this the image you want to portray to colleagues and potential clients? It really does not take long to proof-read.
In conclusion, there are things you need to keep in mind that will truly help you to become a social media guru, and learn a lot in the process. Social media is an incredible tool, one that is necessary in today’s business climate. If you use it correctly the benefits will be plentiful. One last mention: if you want to read a great book on just how effective social media can be, why it is so important and how your role plays out, pick up a copy of Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith.