KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Etiquette and Social Media

Social-media platforms may be somewhat new communication tools—Facebook was opened up to use by the general public in 2006, Twitter was launched in 2006, and LinkedIn was launched in 2003—but the age-old rules of etiquette still apply when you use them. Sure, be yourself, but also be kind and be polite, because (1) if you put something on the Internet, it'll be out there forever for everyone to see, and (2) your online reputation is built on the totality of what you say online. That general advice aside, here are some specific etiquette rules that I find important to follow:

On Facebook
  • When you send a friend request to someone, personalize your request, unless you are a member of the person's immediate family or best friend, by adding a sentence or two to explain how you know them. With the wide networks we're all developing online now, sometimes people don't immediately recognize the name behind a friend request. You could find yourself locked out of connecting with an acquaintance or colleague simply because that person didn't recognize your name in your friend request.
  • Give credit where it's due. When you see something on someone else's wall and want to repost it yourself, note who made you aware of the item. Intellectual honesty is always appreciated, and it makes you look really good too.
  • Think before you comment on someone's wall post. If their post invites debate, then fine—debate all you like, as long as you're civil and don't take potshots at the original poster. If, however, the post expresses happiness because of some event, some thing, or some person, don't start debating the merits of what or who brings that person happiness. For that second type of wall post, comments should be appropriate to the post's tone and intent and should add something to it, not detract from it or dismay the original poster. After all, you "friended" the person because you admire them, not because you want to annoy, offend, or hurt them.

On Twitter
  • Include enough information so that it's clear what you're responding to when you send an @ message (a message addressed to one person but viewable by everyone else) or a direct message (a private message addressed to one person). Not everyone sees responses to their tweets immediately after they're sent, and most people interact with more than a few people on Twitter and thus may read lots of other tweets before seeing your response, so it's not helpful to send cryptic replies.
  • If you have multiple tweets to make in a day, spread them out. Don't overwhelm your followers by flooding their Twitter timeline with loads of tweets. You can use a feed reader with scheduling capabilities (such as TweetDeck) to space your clumps of tweets into individual tweets appearing at different times of day.
  • Don't tweet others' material without credit. When someone tweets something interesting that you'd like to share with your followers, put it out there via a retweet, so that you give credit to the original poster. Nobody likes people who pretend to be the first to spot something.

On LinkedIn
  • When you send someone an invitation to connect, include information about how you know them, even if you think they'll recognize your name. Some people have lots of colleagues and online friends and acquaintances, so if you use LinkedIn's unedited basic invitation, "I use LinkedIn to keep track of my professional network, and would like to add you," your would-be connection may not realize who you are and may ignore your request to connect. When I get an invitation that gives me no clues about how I know the person, I have to take the time to reply to the invitation to ask how that person and I know each other, which I find annoying.
  • When someone in one of your LinkedIn discussion groups provides terrific advice, thank them in a private message. A heartfelt thank-you goes a long way. The recipient will feel rewarded for their efforts and will be more likely to be helpful again, and they will think even better of you than they did before.
  • Be willing to trade favors. If one of your connections asks you to put them in contact with another of your connections, do so. Favors beget favors.

I'm not the first person to write on social-media etiquette; I wrote this post to emphasize some etiquette points that matter most to me. Here is some additional reading on the subject:

What are some of etiquette points that you wish people would follow on social-media platforms?


mckeer19 said...

You make some excellent points, Katharine. One point I disagree with -- at least a little, and at least sometimes -- is in your Facebook advice: "Give Credit Where Credit Is Due." Sometimes I remove the "via" tag when I'm sharing a link to an article or video if I don't want to cause problems for a fb friend/source who travels in different circles than I do, or who might not tend to share the same kinds of information as widely as I would. If it's a case of crediting an author, photographer or videographer, then of course I give credit where credit is due.

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

@mckeer19: Thanks for that explanation. The whole point of etiquette is to help relationships work more smoothly, and considering a friend or source's reaction to being credited is indeed a kind thing to do.

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direct loans consolidation said...

too bad, in my country there are some people say impolite thing about someone else in their social media. however, how we get socialized with others in "real life" will reflect on the way how we get socialized with others even in internet.

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