It may go without saying that you should behave online as you would in person, but sometimes we see the two differently and therefore we act differently. A lot of what we share online stays online and will always manage to get seen by someone else (thank goodness for the delete button). 

Here are five tips on social media etiquette that will help you to communicate in a more effective manner.

1. Manage the content you post

Everything you post online from links you share to pictures and video is a direct reflection on you. Posting careless remarks and images without thinking  can cause damage to your reputation. 

When posting third-party content, always make sure you don’t copy it onto your page or blog as your own or you will find yourself in copyright breach. You should always mention what the article is about and link back to the original source to ensure the attribution goes to the original author.  

Always be mindful of issues being discussed that could be seen as negative or offensive. We live in a global society with many differing beliefs, value systems and political views where one comment can be taken the wrong way and easily offend someone or a whole group of people. 

Focus on content that is going to entertain, educate or assist your audience in a way that will not damage your reputation. Always remember, you are what you share.

2. Good manners equals good reputation

Manners don’t cost you anything. To say the way we communicate in the real world and the connections we make online are using two different communication styles is contradictory. The fact is they are the same. 

If someone shared something of value to you in person, you would most likely thank them. Same applies in the online space. If someone shares your content, answers a question or provides you with feedback you were asking for, always thank them for it. Say please whenever you are asking anything from anyone.

It seems so obvious to use your manners when this happens in person but for some reason, people forget to do it online. Always remember, people do business with and refer business to people they know, like and trust. Speaking for myself here but I look for authenticity, transparency, honesty and well-mannered interactions when I am networking online.  

3.  Keeping in touch with your connections

 When receiving or accepting new connection requests on social media, don’t automatically assume they want to be added to your group, like your page or buy your product or service. Instead, send a personalised message to say ‘hi’ or comment on something you like on their profile is a great way to build rapport with someone you are not familiar with. 

 Even just the small things such as giving them a ‘like’ on their post or commenting on a similar interest you may have in common to start a short conversation is a way to build on your new connection. No matter how great you are at social networking, it’s all about building relationships using good old fashioned social skills. Anything is better than zero. 

4. Always ask permission

It is polite to ask permission before adding someone to a group.  It is inconsiderate if you do not ask first and you may find people will disconnect from you and possibly unfriended. 

If you are watching someone’s live video or participating in a group call and you want to give the person constructive feedback on their presenting skills, ask them if you have permission to do so in a private message. 

Always ask before tagging a friend in photos from the party you went to the other night as they may not want it to be shared on their timeline.  If you want to do a re-post of someone’s photo on Instagram you need to have permission beforehand. 

5. Be a good digital citizen

As digital citizens in the online world, we not only participate in social media as a way of connecting with others through self expression but are also receivers of such expressions that come in the form of trolling, bullying, conflict, misunderstanding and opposing views. Just as we do in the real world, the internet has given us access to digital citizenship in an online society to people of all ages, gender and  cultural beliefs who have access to it. We need to take responsibility in the part we play when we interact and behave with others online.

Being a good digital citizen means having a courteous and respectful attitude and behaviour online. Being demanding on your posts, threatening people if they don’t do as you request, badmouthing a person, brand or business for the sake of ruining their image are all unacceptable. 

 Philosopher Joseph Hall wisely said, A reputation, once broken, may possibly be repaired, but the world will always keep its eyes on the spot where the crack was.

If you enjoyed this article and want to share it on social media, you have my permission to do so 😉