3 Rules for Minding Your Social Media Manners

I feel fortunate to have graduated college before Facebook happened. Even MySpace hadn’t caught on before I left the hallowed halls of EMU in 2003.

Now, as a PR professional, I recognize the value and utilize social media as communications tools, but I’ve also seen how misuse can threaten jobs, friendships, and even lives.

Good manners are just as important online as they are in person.

Source: BrandYourself.com

Source: BrandYourself.com

When hiring college students or recent graduates, my colleagues expect a certain level of social media savvy.

This goes beyond knowing how to use the newest Instagram video feature or the best time to post on Facebook.

You need to know what’s appropriate, whether you representing your personal brand or a company.

Here are three basic guidelines for social media etiquette:

  • Angry? Walk away from the keyboard… Phone a friend or take a walk, but don’t vent to your online friends and followers. Your dirty laundry is probably not their business, and the only real outcome is you will look angry and bitter. If you want a public relations career, THINK before you post. (Ask yourself, is this True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary or Kind?)
  • Don’t share anything you wouldn’t want your granny or boss to see/hear/read. Most of us don’t care to see your hot tub party pics or read your true feelings about your roommate or coworker. It’s the ones who do want to see this information that you have to worry about.
  •  Ask yourself, will this offend someone? Sharing opinions about politics or religion rarely convert others but usually start heated discussions. Do you want to engage this kind of conversation? Bottom line: it’s unacceptable to post anything that is intolerant of religion, race, creed, etc. Keep in mind that controversial posts can bite you in the rear as your online persona (like it or not) is a reflection of your employer and other organizations you are affiliated with.

What are your thoughts? Do you have any advice for keeping online conversations civil?

Sara Cullin
Guest Blogger
Sara Cullin, an Eastern Michigan University alum (BS 03), is a senior corporate communications coordinator in Cincinnati. Connect with Sara via Twitter: @saracullin.  
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