August 5, 2021

Good Manners Matter In Social Media

7 out of 10 Americans use one or more of the social media platforms to connect with friends, families, and communities. Social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube have millions of global subscribers and they are often used to share what’s going on in people’s lives. Posts, photos, and videos are shared online about one’s day, momentous events, celebrations, pleas for help, causes to support and so much more. While social media has paved the way to build relationships and to connect anytime anywhere, some posts can irritate, annoy, and spark outrage. People do have the right to express themselves, but here are some ways one can use social media the proper way and be a responsible and considerate user.

It’s All Me

Keep private things private. Social media sites have been used for hacking. You may be unknowingly providing information through your posts that can be used by cyberhackers. These include posting your home address, your social security numbers, or credit card numbers. You may be posting a photo of your work-at-home setup and forget that co-workers’ names, e-mail addresses, and video call number information may be on your monitor. Games, polls, or posts that ask for your first pet’s name, the street you grew up in, or your favorite color gives out answers to common security questions. Be careful of personal data that you put out there online to prevent your account from getting hacked or worse, be a victim of identity theft.
Respect others’ privacy. Uploading a picture of someone without permission is considered inappropriate by 64.3% of survey respondents. Asking permission before posting is a good practice because tagging unflattering photos may negatively affect a person personally or professionally. In intimate and private events such as weddings, ask the couple first if they don’t mind others posting pictures of the wedding – they may prefer to be the first ones to post rather than the guests.
Present a respectable image. While you are free to do whatever you want on your own account, bear in mind that social media posts can break careers. Company HR departments now screen social media accounts to find and screen potential talent. Thus said, be polite. This is not just to impress potential bosses. Most people put an effort to be polite while face-to-face with other people. It makes good sense to do this as well online. Showing courtesy and kindness in posts, as well as in commenting are also always well-received.  Checking spelling and grammar before posting is another considerate thing to do. Oversharing very personal information and airing dirty laundry are best left in private messages.
Be careful with what you share. People like sharing information especially if they feel that their friends or followers can benefit from it. Just be sure that what you’re posting isn’t fake news. It’s a user’s moral and social responsibility not to mislead others. Take the time to verify sources. Don’t forget to give credit where it’s due. It’s gracious to cite who took a photo or said a quote you posted.

Keeping It Professional

Good habits that are practiced in personal accounts are also applicable to business pages or accounts. Here are more best practices for organizations to apply in their social media accounts. Complete your profile. Your company’s profile is an opportunity to make a good first impression. Make sure that your contact information is complete. A well-thought-out introduction or biography ensures what type of product or services you offer. High-quality profile and cover photos round up your company’s branding.
Mind your content. Make sure it aligns with the culture and purpose of your business. Plan the design and color palette you’ll be using. They should conform with your company’s branding. Post regularly and consistently so your audience is aware of your presence. Keep from oversharing though as this could irritate potential clients. Keep hashtags to a minimum. Hashtags are useful for people to find you, but using too much comes across as immature and unprofessional. Double-check grammar and spelling. Mistakes in these also appear unprofessional.

Match your content to the platform. Facebook is casual and it’s a great place to join relevant groups and connect. LinkedIn is best for business-focused articles. Shorter posts are more effective on Twitter. Quality photos are perfect on Instagram. You don’t need to have accounts on all these sites. Decide which one will serve your business best.

Master audience engagement

Remember that not every post needs to be a sales pitch. People are barraged with ads and they will not appreciate more in their feeds. Be creative. You can upload a video where customers can see how your product is made. Share information that’s relevant to your product or service.
Engage with your audience. Interacting with your followers is key to promoting your brand and builds connections with people. Respect their opinions but stay on the sidelines if it seems like they are provoking you to say something that’s contrary to what your company represents. Being culturally and socially sensitive will earn your audience’s trust and protect your brand’s reputation.
Here are some don’ts worth remembering while engaging with your followers. Don’t write in all caps. This will seem that you are angry or aggressive. Don’t badmouth competitors even if they did it to you. Instead, take time to decide what steps to take to handle it professionally. Just like in real life, don’t get into arguments with your audience especially about religion and politics. If it’s about your product or services, this is best resolved by reaching out personally and privately. Don’t insult a customer. It can ruin your reputation especially when it goes viral.
Be a contributor to making social media a healthy environment. It is no different from how people should act in the real world. Most of these practices are just the high-tech versions of old-school good manners. To quote Maya Angelou, “Just do right. Right may not be expedient, it may not be profitable, but it will satisfy your soul.”

About the author 

Peter Hatch

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