The Ultimate Guide For Social Media Etiquette

The world is becoming a smaller place, and we have social media platforms to thank for it. They have become one of the most popular ways of communicating with people in the digital era.  Just like the natural environment, there are some rules/norms that have made their way into the digital environment as well. The...

The world is becoming a smaller place, and we have social media platforms to thank for it. They have become one of the most popular ways of communicating with people in the digital era. 

Just like the natural environment, there are some rules/norms that have made their way into the digital environment as well. The way you communicate with people over social media platforms – like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc. – has an important role.

What is social media etiquette?

Simply put, social media etiquette refers to a set of rules that businesses and individuals alike follow to uphold their online reputation. Similar to how social rules/norms determine how you behave in a social setting, social media etiquettes dictate how you act on social media platforms from time to time.

From businesses to individuals, there are different social media etiquette guidelines for everyone. These etiquettes for social media varies from platform to platform. For instance, when you’re reposting material on Instagram, you’re required to pay attention to details. Whereas retweeting on Twitter, there is not much to pay attention to.

Importance of social media etiquettes

Now that you know what social media etiquette means, you might ask why it’s important to follow them? Well, the answer is, a single mistake can cost you big time.

This is not just true for businesses but also for individuals. Posting content that violates a particular social media platform’s policy can have some serious impact and might create a bad online impression. 

Having good social manners while maintaining social media etiquette is crucial for success as targeting the right people and creating engaging content.

Use of social media etiquettes are important and necessary. And here are 6 reasons why: 

1. Show empathy

Social media etiquettes make you more empathetic towards others. Using etiquettes on social media encourages you to put yourself in people’s shoes. And in doing so, it gives you a better understanding of their requirements and needs.

2. Be focused

Etiquettes on social media help you focus on what’s important and what’s not. By behaving professionally or being colloquial, depending on the social media platform, you will achieve your goals and focus on the main goal.

3. Strategic thinking

Good etiquettes on social media reflect closely on your strategic thinking. When you have a specific goal in mind for using social media, all of your etiquette for social media will contribute to converting your strategies into measurable, tangible achievements. 

4. Be productive

Without the right strategies, it can be quite difficult to produce the desired results. And using etiquettes like your tone, type of content you post, strategies you use, the time you post, etc. will leave a lasting impression on your people and make your content more productive. 

5. Learn from your mistakes

No matter how good your manners and etiquettes are, mistakes are inevitable on social media. There is no one recipe for flawless communication on social media platforms. Use a combination of etiquette on social media platforms to help you avoid them and improve your chance of succeeding.

6. Empowers your staff

When etiquettes are followed on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. by your staff, they help in promoting your brand. When someone from your staff posts contents safely on their personal channels, they end up advocating your brand.

Having said this, social media etiquette is more about what feels right. If it feels right and expressed and conveyed in the right way, you’re already making use of these etiquettes without consciously thinking about it.

Social media etiquettes is for everyone

If someone posts content without giving much thought to it, it can cause some serious damage. For instance, sending out offensive tweets on Twitter or engaging in aggressive online debates on platforms like Facebook can bring embarrassment to the individual and the brand on the whole.

Professional, business, or an employee, social etiquettes are for everyone. But the rules for each of them differ. For instance, someone who owns a company will have to follow a different set of more stringent rules than someone who is an employee of a business.

Similarly, someone who is handling a business account will help to follow a different set of rules on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. than they would have to follow for their personal account.

To help you get a better understanding, here are some rules that should be kept in mind while handling social media platforms:

1. Guidelines for professionals

Social media offers an ideal platform to connect with your fellow business associates, friends and family. But as easy as this communication seems, it comes with an inevitable risk. There is always a risk of posting or tweeting a post that might offend your followers. For example, an inappropriate tweet on Twitter or an inconsiderate Facebook post can damage relationships with your followers instead of strengthening it.

But this can be easily avoided by following certain ground rules. To help you out, we have curated a list of 5 social media etiquettes you can follow:

  • Keep your readers in mind while posting

This is one of the most important social media etiquette to follow. When posting on platforms like Facebook or tweeting on Twitter, think about whether this content is helpful for the readers and solves their problems. Think about whether the content that you’re about to post is what people are looking for and have come for.

  • Be careful not to post personal information

While creating a social media platform, there is a high probability that your image as a friend or a family member will be in constant conflict with your image as a professional. In this case, subject to follow etiquettes that help you balance the various roles you play. And try to restrain from posting or tweeting truly personal information.

  • Be wise while choosing your followers

Each social media platform has its unique norm and syntax. And each social media community is formed based on a particular shared interest or hobby. So avoid sharing the same information using various platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. Even if you’re planning to share the same content, consider tailoring the content for each platform.

  • Post content that holds value

This social media etiquette is a must-follow. Use social media platforms like Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. to post/tweet quick updates about topics that matter. By posting trivial or unrelatable content, the entire purpose of having a professional account is defeated. Get something to post that holds value – for instance, a tip or a helpful link.

  • Be careful of the content you’re posting

This etiquette is especially for those who tend to overshare content. The want to be consistently present on various social media platforms is important, but don’t end up oversharing. For instance, on a platform like Twitter, posting a few times a day is fine but for a platform like Facebook, one post a day is more than enough.

2. Guidelines for employees

In an attempt to grow their network, more and more businesses are encouraging their employees to use social media to share their promotions, news, and views. This practice is popularly known as employee advocacy, and its importance is increasing with the advancement of social media platforms. 

But to promote this practice, businesses need to design social media etiquettes for their employees. These etiquettes help encourage positive engagement and prevent posts/tweets that might be harmful to the business. 

In an effort to help you out, we have curated a list of 5 social media etiquettes that businesses can get their employees to follow:

  • Get them to engage in social media activity during work hours

Encourage your employees to share, instead of making social media engagement a taboo practice at work. Offer suggestions instead of ordering/telling them what they can and cannot post, and what they can or cannot respond to. Motivate them to engage in online conversations that help them, and your business grow.

  • Encourage them to share business stories, views, news, and events

Encouraging them to share news, events, and or stories related to your business can help your business grow. By sharing it on their personal accounts, they help in building awareness and raising engagements. In motivating them to share posts/tweets, they will grow their thought leadership position among their social connections and learn to balance various types of content.

  • Get them to list themselves as employees of your business on their personal accounts

Getting your employees to follow this social media etiquette will help build trust and authority with search engines and among your target audience. Make them want to create profiles on platforms – like LinkedIn that reflect their designations and contributions to the business. And once the profiles are created, inspire them to share articles related to your business.

  • Refrain them from responding to any negative comments made about the business

Even though this is on the 4th point, this is one of the most important social media etiquettes that every employee should follow. Try even to communicate and inform your employees directly to steer away from negative comments and or false information/allegations that competitors might spread on social media platforms. 

Reassure them that the right information/facts will be published positively. Get it clear that such situations are better handled by a person in charge of managing social media strategy and messaging.

  • Ask them to refrain from disclosing/publishing confidential information

This social media etiquette is a no-brainer. Get it established that any confidential information/data should not be publicized on any social media platform. This is a definite ‘Don’t’ for any employee irrespective of their designation/position in the business.

3. Guidelines for businesses

Some of these etiquettes might come across as a no-brainer for businesses that have been a part of social media platforms. And that is because, as an experienced player, you have over and over-analyzed your content and strategies to figure out what works and what doesn’t.

But even with practice, there are certain nuanced etiquettes on social media overlooked by businesses worldwide. Here are 5 social media etiquettes that every business, irrespective of their industry, should follow:

  • Complete your profile

After signing up to create a new account on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, don’t forget to fill all the required information. From uploading your business logo, enter your contact information to write about your business. Ensure that you give out all the crucial information that people might need to know about you.

  • Think about your posts

Think about the kind of content you want to post. Think about the design you want to use. Think about the color palette you want to maintain. Use this thought process to create content that you can post and or tweet. Ensure that these posts/tweets align with your business’s morals and views and represent what you stand for.

  • Be regular

Be timely with your posts. Don’t overshare, but don’t even disappear from the people. This might pop the question, how many posts are too many? The answer is that it depends from one business to another and from one industry to another. But make sure that you post at least once or twice a week. 

  • Choose your platforms

With the spurt of social media platforms, it might seem tempting to go ahead and try out all of them. But this might be a risky thing to do. By doing so, you might end up spreading yourself too thin and might not deliver quality content. Based on marketing goals, choose and focus on particular(s) social media platforms where you know your target people are.  

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  • Engage with people

Coming up with interactive and engaging content is not enough. Interacting with people is an efficient way of connecting with people. For instance, see a comment, a query on Twitter? Send them a courteous reply. Use your LinkedIn account to share industry-related posts or ask recommendations from your Facebook audience.

Social media platforms are ever-evolving. And so, it is crucial to think about the words, videos, and images you want to share with your business associates, friends, and family. Social media can be an unforgiving place, so make sure to follow proper etiquettes on social media while communicating with the people.

15 do’s and don’t of etiquettes on social media

Now that you know about the particular social media etiquettes set in place for businesses, professionals, and employees to follow. It is time to look at 15 basic do’s and don’ts social media etiquettes that apply to businesses and individuals alike. 

1. Don’t gloat

Don’t go ahead and overemphasize your praise. When you receive praise for your product or service, be careful not to repost or retweet every positive comment about you. Doing so will make you seem proud and conceited.

2. Make your visual aesthetically pleasing

Content generates results only when there is a good visual design combined with it. Make sure that you come up with interesting dynamic visual content that can be shared and made viral. Don’t neglect your profile photo and have a creative cover photo ready for particular platforms.

3. Be inclusive

Try and share links by others if they are helpful and relevant to your business. This will help build good relations with them and increase the chances of your content getting passed ahead in the future.

4. Stay active

Just uploading posts or tweets once or twice a week isn’t enough. Take efforts to interact with people. In doing so, your profile will not only be fresh and consistent but will also remain constant in the people’s mind.

5. Be concise

Being way too wordy may lead to people shutting you out completely. To avoid that, make your content to the point without beating around the bush too much. This is especially true for platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

6. Don’t be dishonest

Be open and completely honest about yourself and your business. Most often than not, your followers will recognize whether you’re honest or not. Be vocal about your partnerships and or anything you might be personally involved in/with.

7. Get creative with your response

Don’t be boring and monotonous by using the same response for everyone. Make your answers a bit personalized, and you will see how many people will react to it. When they see you being personal with them, it will encourage them to continue interacting with your business.

8. Promote others along with yourself

Selling out promotion after promotion of your product and or service will make you seem boring and dull. By promoting others’ content and product/service, will make a good impression on the audience. For a positive impact, learn to balance between your business promotion and others.

9. Make your conversations meaningful

Most of the businesses end up conversing with those who they feel they can benefit from. By engaging in meaningful conversations with proper response time, you’re not only thoughtful, but you’re also helping in expanding your influence to other audiences as well.

10. Keep your competitors close

Don’t shy away from the competition. Embrace it, and feel free to follow them on social media platforms if you want to. Look at what they’re doing and how they’re going about it. But don’t attack or be disrespectful towards them or someone related to them.

11. Pay attention to the negatives

Don’t disregard the negative or critical comments made about your business. Try seeing them as things to work on. When engaging with negative comments, be respectful and yet direct with your approach.

12. Go easy with sales

Even though social media platforms is a great place to sell, you can’t simply keep doing that. Instead of just focusing on sales, try to focus on creating meaningful, engaging content. In doing so, you’re already convincing half of your followers.

13. Don’t steal digital content

Digital content might not be tangible, but it still is owned by someone. Using someone’s content without giving credits is not only unethical, but it also could cause problems with the owner. This doesn’t only imply for posts/tweets but also on content repurposed from other places.

14. Focus on how you want to be represented

Be careful about what you post, tweet, or comment on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. Everything you post is a representation of you and your business. So, focus on censoring and filtering your content before you put it online.

15. Be timely

When you respond to comments and or messages on time, it creates a positive impression on people. By responding quickly to their comments/messages, you are implying that you care and that they are important to you.

Following these 15 do’s and don’ts of social media etiquettes is crucial, irrespective of whether you’re a first time user or have an experience. It is essential to understand social media’s online conduct and etiquette if you want to leave a positive impression. 

Now that you know about the basic etiquettes, you’re all set to handle various social media platforms and be on your way!

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Ritu Sanghvi is a content marketer and a copy editor. She creates content for blog posts, social media/website content, and video scripts. Ritu is an extensive reader, and she is passionate about writing monologues and poetry.