4 April 2013

Do you use social media etiquette?

Connecting with others all over the world is so much easier now thanks to social media.  I personally love connecting with others both in person and online but I feel that there is a lack of etiquette online.  Finding out a very close friend is engaged on Facebook or even sad news like a death is the impersonal nature of these online social tools.

This raises the question, do you still contact those close to you via phone if they live a distance or meet regularly for face to face visits rather than just relying on social media tools? Even the younger generation should still have quality 'real time' in person with friends and family whenever they can.

I imagine for some, the line is blurred with relationships online and real life relationships – do we say things differently online to a friend’s post, would we speak the same to their face?  Just as it is hard to take back words spoken it is the same for online posts, they remain online, with more people viewing, forever, with the chance of people reposting.

Even if your social media channels are for personal use only, you still have to think about your brand and reputation.  How do you want people to perceive you? Did you know potential employers check out your Facebook profile, page, and pictures? Do you have your access settings set up properly so only those you know and trust can view your posts?  If you could look back in five years would you be happy with yours posts? Your information is ALWAYS available, even if you shut down your Facebook page. The web is permanent.

Are you using Facebook as an emotional dumping ground? I know I cannot stand people whinging on Facebook, wrong communication channel people!!  Now and then it is ok engage in a conversation about something that happened that day, but to constantly bag other people and complain on Facebook, please! For some it might make them feel better, but think about your audience (friends, family, colleagues). 

Understanding that other people have different opinions also is something people need to be aware of and respect.  Yes you can have your opinion, but you need to think about others also, it is called respect, again would you mention this face to face with your friends etc? 

I know I try to think about the repercussions of a post, picture or article I post.  Sometimes I do push the barriers but I have respect for my audience, I know most of my friends (online and also f2f friend) understand my point of view and know that I do put posts up there for comments and opinions, that they won’t get argued with, purely a place for people to have their opinion.  I know at the end of the day it is out there, on the web, for people to share, print screen and copy if need be, that is what I think about before hitting the post button, I am comfortable with my post because I have thought about others possible reactions.

When I got engaged I was so happy, so excited and couldn’t wait to share with friends and family and of course update my Facebook status for all my online friends and family to know my good news.  But first I spoke to my parents, and sent a quick celebration text off to my closest friends, only then when I knew our nearest and dearest friends had been told and conversations exchanged that I updated my Facebook page.  Some of you are probably not too sure of the whole Facebook thing, people sharing personal information, I find it very liberating.  I cannot tell you how many comments I had from my online community, they were all so exciting that just made me smile for days, some tears too! How amazing to be able to share this with the people I admire and respect. 

The main thing to remember when posting anything on ANY social media site is that it is permanent.   You have to be polite and respect others.  You can still have your opinion, but choose what is appropriate for your audience.  If you don’t like people sharing your pictures or words, set up your account properly, understand your options. Take responsibility.

Not everything is personal.  If someone doesn’t add you as a friend on Facebook or doesn’t engage, don’t take it personally, it isn’t always a true reflection.  I have friends who I hardly see, speak too anymore from Western Australia, so those who I don’t engage with I have taken off my friends list.  This doesn’t mean I do not care for them.  

If you are a business on Facebook, ensure you address your audience and post appropriate post, pictures in relation to that business. You have a personal page (Jane Smith) and a separate business page (Jane Smith’s Cupcakes).   Your clients won’t have to know about your wild dress up party from Saturday night that got a little messy or your friend’s being bombarded by pictures of your cupcakes.  Brand is everything and everyone has a personal brand.

Think before tagging is the best etiquette also.  Would YOU be happy with that drunken picture of you with your eyes rolling back in your head posted for all your audience (mum, dad) to see? If you don’t like people tagging you, set that up in your settings and also remind your friends. Courtesy is key.

Bullying anytime anywhere is not on. Those who bully others on social media are cowards. Parents should know the passwords to their children’s Facebook accounts if under 18.  Both should sit down and talk about the importance of privacy and setting up the account with appropriate settings, education is key.  If you are not on Facebook yourself, learn about it and accept that it is a channel that your child will want to explore. An understanding has to come with the parent/child agreement with Facebook use.  There are too many perverts out there to keep everyone safe from bullying and online misconduct.  Being able to talk about it is key also.

Adults can sometimes be the bigger bully. Grow up.  Be kind or get off social media tools.  Posting on someone’s Twitter feed you wish they would die, is bullying or commenting rudely on a post is bullying.  I am excited to hear that there are a few cases that have gone to court, being charged with attacking others on social media sites.  It is the same as doing it in person, wrong.

Be polite, be kind, be funny, challenge your friends on topics but do it with respect.  Ensure you have your profile on any social media tool set up to your preference.  If you do de-friend a person on Facebook because their posts annoy, upset you, be honest and tell them why.  Or hide their posts from your feed if you feel it will cause unnecessary tension (family members).

Added paragraph after publishing:
Further to a valid point made by Amy on my published post on Facebook today - those people expecting to find out about your baby, dog, cat, life on Facebook, if you aren't a close friend, or close work acquaintence, you will find out when the user is ready to post, do not RELY on these social media channels for information. This is also etiquette! Be respectful of the person, especially in Amy's case when she had a baby, she surely was busy, resting, tired, contacting family to do a selfie or baby piccie for you!


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