Social media has been around for what feels like forever. But if you ask around, you can easily find someone who remembers what life was like before hashtags, profile pics, and oversharing. And these same people probably also have some pretty good social media fail stories because we all learned as we went along. So how can you avoid having your own social media fail for all the world to see? Practice some etiquette. There are some pretty basic rules you can follow to keep your social media life from getting out of control. Let’s discuss them, shall we?
Think before you post. This is perhaps the most important rule. Just think. Take a minute to go through what could happen if and when you post something. Will it hurt someone else? Could this affect me in a couple of days? In a few years? Is this something that really needs to be shared? If you answered yes to any of these questions, maybe the post isn’t a great idea. And think about where you are posting. If you’re using LinkedIn, a social media site designed for jobseekers and employers, you might not want the same profile picture you have on Instagram or Twitter.
Keep separate profiles, if necessary. Speaking of being mindful of where you post, it might be necessary to create a separate profile on the same platform. If you are representing a brand or want to keep your professional and private lives separate, you would benefit greatly from having two different profiles. For your professional profile, keep the username professional. If you decide to be clever, make sure it is appropriate for your job/career. Check the settings on each profile, too, to make sure they match what your goal is for each. And make sure your followers know there is a difference between the two profiles.
Ask permission. Before posting photos of and tagging friends and family, be sure to get their okay first. They may not want 14,398 photos of them online. It only takes a couple of seconds to ask, and it’s a simple way to show that you care about and respect their privacy.
Grammar, grammar, grammar. Making your post easy to read and understand will only help you look better. And a simple misspelled word can completely change the meaning of your post and cause problems. So use the spell check and make sure autocorrect didn’t change anything. Reading over everything one more time before posting can make a huge difference.
Check your sources. It only takes a couple of minutes to verify what you see online. If you see a post and think it sounds a little over the top, do a search to see if it’s true. You can also call the Library and ask if you can’t find the answer. But please do not go blindly reposting things. Take a minute and do some research. There is often more to the story than what the post says.
Don’t overshare. The final rule we will discuss here is pretty simple. Oversharing is bad. If it is not something you would say in a crowded room, maybe it doesn’t need to be posted. If it is news that you would tell someone face to face, do that. Don’t air your dirty laundry online. Along that same line, be careful about how often you post. Having eight posts a day is a lot for people to scroll through, especially if everyone else is posting eight times a day. Also, no one wants to read a paragraph a hashtags, so keep those limited, too.
Social media etiquette is not difficult. And practicing it can lead to a much more enjoyable social media experience for both you and your followers. If you would like more information about using social media and etiquette, there are many sources out there. Lynda.com (accessible through www.libraryvisit.org with your library card) offers tutorials on using social media for a variety of purposes. And this article from Forbes talks about social media use at work in regards to both employees and employers. It all boils down to common sense.