Hopefully, these ‘rules’ of online engagement will help you navigate cyber-world without stepping on toes (read: getting banned, unfollowed, reported etc).
And also, they may enable you build meaningful, professional, respectful and even profitable relationships in your life and business.
#1. Your online connections and conduct are as important as your offline’s. Be respectful, authentic, congruent and courteous in all your interactions.
#2. Quality wins over Quantity. Do not send random friend request to strangers just to increase your ‘friends’ list. If they’re a friend of a mutual friend and (do not know you), add a short message introducing yourself in your friend invite. Build quality, meaningful relationships, one person at a time!
#3. NEVER, ever, spam other people’s page or personal timeline! If you have a business opportunity or product, ALWAYS send a private message to the page’s admin or owner, requesting for permission. You can get permanently blocked by both the page/FB if many complaints are lodged against you.
#4: Do NOT ever go over people’s head by contacting their friends and try to ‘sell’ them your service or product, without a direct introduction. The rules of OFFLINE friendships or relationships apply ONLINE too.
#5. Please, do NOT write in all caps, it does not make your message urgent or important, it just means you’re shouting at your audience. You may emphasize a few words in caps to make your point.
#6. Know your Audience! Do not use abbreviated language on professional pages, especially when sending private messages. Write to be understood and not to be decoded. Big difference!
#7. Agree to disagree, respectfully. Communicate your point of view without resorting to abusive, coarse language. “Abuse is the weapon of the lazy or vulgar.” Everyone has a different model of the world and so our perspectives and opinions differ. Avoid engaging in a social media ‘insult-fight-war’…If someone’s getting on your last nerve, there’s always the ‘UNFOLLOW’ or ‘UNFRIEND’ button!
#8. There’s no ‘secret’ online. Assume everything you post online is open to the whole world (that’s why it’s called the world-wide web, lol). Once you hit the ‘send’ or ‘post’ button, it cannot be undone. It’s saved or cached by a server, or someone, somewhere in the world. So post wisely!
#9. Come into the social media space as you would to life: open, willing and ready to learn. There’s always room for growth and improvement. Let go of the attachment to being ‘right’, focus on the learnings happening ‘right now’ as you browse and post. That way, you post or read to add value and NOT to argue for your point of view, prove yourself right and others wrong (really avoid being obnoxious and rude when getting your points across).
#10. Only your doctors should know or see certain things about you…no one really want to know or see your private privates! Think again before posting those secret thoughts, drunken shots or racy pictures online… 🙂 They may come to bite you! Avoid sharing too much detailed information about yourself. Think security and identity theft! Besides, what’s life without a little mystery? Avoid letting EVERYTHING all hang out. Save some stuff in your ‘privacy bag’ 🙂
#11. The principles of offline interactions apply online too. Applaud people publicly and correct/chide them privately (through a private message). If you must do it publicly, do it respectfully. It’s poor taste to point out people’s mistakes/faults in a way that demeans them rather than giving them constructive feedback. No one is perfect, no one knows it all. Treat others how you would want to be treated and most importantly how they would love to be treated! How you treat others (especially when they err), reflect more who YOU are than who they are…
#12. Do NOT add people directly into groups without their permission. Send them an invite or private message and get their consent first. Courtesy applies both offline and online. Respect is reciprocal, sow the right seeds and you’ll reap the rewards in your life and business!
#13. If it’s not cool in real life, it’s also not cool in cyber-world: Bullying, Racial Slurs, Discrimination, Profanity, Pornographic images etc. In a nutshell, avoid posting or sharing inappropriate materials.
#14. Hackers, frauds, identity thieves…please get a life! It’s definitely not cool to steal other people’s information and ruin their personal/professional brands with malicious posts and activities! This happens to be a serious pet peeve of mine…arrrrgggghhh!!
#15. The brain does not have a strong enough firewall to separate your offline and online personas. Make it easy on yourself; be congruent and aligned in your message and communication. The language may change (formal to informal depending on the platform), however, let the real you and the best you shine through. Be true to thyself…
#16. Respect other people’s privacy and copyright materials. If you share original quotes for instance, never, ever pass them off as yours. Reference the source material or person.
#17. Always re-read before you hit the ‘send’ button to avoid glaring grammar mistakes and/or to allow yourself a second chance to reflect upon your content before sharing. Avoid posting when angry or emotions are running really high. Like they say, when emotions are high, intelligence is generally very low!
#18. Even in words, non-verbal cues are not hidden or masked, so watch out for your tonality, emotion, unspoken angst…If possible, have clarity to avoid misinterpretation. Rule of thumbs: keep it short, sweet and simple and count to 10 before posting when in a negative mood!
#19. When contributing to a thread of conversation, try as much as possible to focus on the topic at hand. It is really annoying to go off at a 90 degrees from the topic at hand. Do not hold parallel, irrelevant conversations with someone over something else on an existing thread (if you have to, ask for permission).
#20. Do NOT spam, ever! Not on any social media platform, Period! Especially with your endless ‘make money opportunities or date a millionaire or get a free re-charge card nonsense! Get your own page and post your ‘awesome’ opportunities there!! I get royally ticked off when people do this! Note that I’m repeating this rule again. It is very important to stress! I once had someone come on an Obituary/Memoriam thread and spammed the thread multiple times with her business link…yikes! Talk about bad manners.
#21. RESPECT! Respect! Respect! Show deep respect for others and for yourself. Be mindful of others and also have clear boundaries for yourself. Sometimes, showing respect may be as simple as actually being PRESENT. Indeed, sometimes, we have to disconnect from all the technological gadgets to really connect meaningfully. BE in the moment. Be wherever you are NOW! And above all, be empathetic and forgiving when people err. Be caring enough to tell them (some people are honestly oblivious of the proper way to engage online). Engage, educate and enhance their understanding. And of course, if they’re resistant to change, set clearer boundaries or simply do what I do, hit ‘DELETE!’ or ‘BLOCK’ 🙂
(I have a whole podcast with more tips and strategies which is available to Premium and Platinum members of WWN).
Did we miss anything on the list? What’s your favourite #WWNSocialMediaEtiquette tip/strategy? Share any social media pet peeves you have in our comment section 🙂
Remember, whatever you do and with whomever you interact, sow seeds of love, value and service. If any of these resonates with you, do feel free to share this post with your network!
Warmest Regards and Cyber-hugs,
-Juliet ‘Kego Ume-Onyido, MBA
Poet | Master-Certified Leadership Coach-Trainer -Consultant|
~Raising A New Generation of Transformational, Ethical & Creative African Leaders~
~Take empowered ACTION towards a Healthier, Sexier, Wealthier YOU!~
The preceding is a guest post from Juliet Ume, MBA –Co-Founder and Executive Director at Whole Woman Network. Juliet is the author of the upcoming books: “UN-Locking Your HeArt of Leadership” and “Today, I Will Not Bow”. A self-described Life-Connoisseur, who loves life and the whole human experience, Juliet was nicknamed a ‘reminderist’, [one who reminds us of that which we already know; that we are not fractured or broken and NOW is the perfect time to replace that fallacy with a new, beautiful truth: we are worthy, empowered, complete, whole creatures and our life journey is to return to wholeness]!
Her message is simply: “To use the power of written-spoken-sung WORDS to connect, heal, empower, change and transform our inner and outer worlds. Words have power in the meaning and interpretation we choose to give them and all of life is synchronistic poetry in motion! Are you telling empowering stories about yourself and others?”
She is a passionate advocate of WomEntrepreneurship, Leadership, Investment & Financial Literacy for women and youth (especially girls). Her mission is simply to engage, educate and empower women, regardless of their levels of income or background, to return to ‘wholeness’ and live Healthier, Sexier, Wealthier Lives using Faith-based, Scientific and Universal (Common-Sense) principles! Follow her on Twitter: @wholewomaninc, @julietumeinc. Enjoy some of her portfolio of poems on her Floetry Blog and follow her daily reflective posts on Facebook.