Rule #1: Be yourself!
Social media enables you to connect with people from all aspects of your life, so it’s important to embrace your personality through what you say and do. Stay true to yourself and don’t feel like you have to change the way you communicate. However, as your actions can last online forever, you’ll also want keep in mind of the context you’re communicating. Be mindful of your audience and consider speaking as if you were in public at all times. When creating social profiles, be genuine and use your real identity so others can recognize you.

Rule #2: Be transparant!
As information can live online forever, it’s essential to keep in mind that whatever you say or do on social media can potentially be seen or searched. This means that you’ll want to disclose information that you feel would be important for the public to know. For example, if you’re responding to someone’s comment online about the company you work for, it’s considered good etiquette to disclose your relationship to your company. As well, whenever you’re being paid or sponsored to represent a person or a company online, it’s considered courteous to disclose that information to the public.

Rule #3: Play the game by the rules!
As social media is a place for personal expression, it’s also a public environment you share with your community. For this reason, it’s essential to understand the rules of each social network so you can respect the experiences of others. Learning the nuances and guidelines of each social network you use can be a great way to play your part in respecting public space. We’ll touch on etiquette for specific social networks later in this course. When engaging online, it’s important for you to understand and abide by your company’s policies regarding social media usage, like maintaining company confidentiality. Respecting the guidelines of social networks as well as your employers can help you engage responsibly and allow you to best support your company. If you’re unsure about the social media policies of your organization, consult your HR or legal departments before you engage online.

Rule #4: Listen regularly!
As social media is a two-way conversation, it’s considered good etiquette to listen actively to what your communities are saying. This means that you’ll want to regularly monitor and moderate your social accounts, especially when you’re contacted or mentioned on Facebook or Twitter, for example. In order to engage effectively with others, it’s especially important to listen deeply so you understand the full context of the conversation. You’ll want to avoid misconstruing people’s intentions by missing specific details in a conversation thread. Also, without listening carefully, it’s difficult to know what your community is interested in. By actively listening to your social channels, you can keep up with what others are saying while contributing to a larger conversation.

Rule #5: Provide engagement!
While social media can be a powerful platform to share your personal interests or amplify your company’s presence, it’s important that you participate in meaningful conversations with others. When people engage with you, feel free to reciprocate. Constantly pushing one-way content on your social accounts can put off some of your followers or even lose the interest of your communities. By actively engaging with your network, you can contribute value to your online community and inspire them to do the same. Sharing photos with your network is a large part of engaging on social media. However, as things can live online forever, it’s recommended to always be mindful of what you’re sharing before you publish. Avoid posting any photos you wouldn’t want your family members, colleagues or prospective employers to see. When engaging, keep in mind that conversations take place in real time. While there’s no said rule to reply immediately, it’s considered good etiquette to respond in a timely manner when people comment or mention you. In order to maintain a healthy relationship with your communities it’s important to keep communication flowing so you don’t let conversations languish.

Rule #6: Be respectful!
As you interact with numerous people online, miscommunications can often take place. When speaking to others, it’s crucial to be aware of what you say and how you say it. Even when you’re in a heated discussion, it’s always a good practice to remain courteous and to keep an open mind. Something that may be acceptable to you could potentially be misunderstood or perceived as cyberbullying by someone else. If you do happen to say something you didn’t mean, you may want to consider retracting what you said and/or apologizing for any miscommunication. When someone gives you a positive mention or a compliment, it may be tempting to want to tell the whole world. However, it’s considered good etiquette to be selective of the compliments you amplify. Instead, be gracious and thank them. As social media can be uncharted territory, it’s important to use your better judgement to guide you through different situations. If you plan to promote your personal brand or company, be mindful of how much promotional content you’re publishing onto other people’s feeds. When it comes to sending invites or private messages, it’s also suggested to do so with consideration. Sending excessive messages or unsolicited invites can bombard your networks with notifications. While it’s important to actively share with others, you’ll want to ensure that you avoid spamming so you can respect their social media experiences. When it comes to sharing content, it’s important to thank others when they share yours and remember to give credit where credit is due to show your appreciation. 

Can you think of more do's and don'ts?