When it comes to social media, being calculated and being kind are not mutually exclusive.
Having good manners, maintaining strong ethics and using social tools in ways that benefit both you and your audience, (basically "etiquette") are just as important to your success as targeting influencers, finding a good dashboard and building a lead generation funnel.
So then why don’t more people care about etiquette?
Well, to be frank, the word has an image problem.
“Etiquette” sounds pretentious and stuffy -- the kind of thing that only applies to gift giving, fashion tips and setting the table.
I believe etiquette, in social media in particular, is important, necessary and critical.
Here are ten reasons why…
Most articles about social media focus on how to handle platforms. But most missteps in social media happen because of how we handle people -- a far trickier half of the social equation to master. Etiquette provides the framework for tackling this "people part." Without it, you're flying blind in all those platforms.
No matter how great your manners are, inevitably we all make mistakes in social media. That’s because people are weird and unpredictable. It’s impossible to flawlessly communicate with everyone all the time. But knowing where points of confusion commonly crop up can help you improve your chances of doing it more successfully, more often.
There is no one “right way” to do social media and no one does it perfectly. Knowing other people are also making mistakes makes the whole playing field less intimidating. Our collective imperfection also makes us less likely to jump on the blame bandwagon and start pointing fingers when mistakes happen.
While your goal in using social media is undoubtedly important, don't forget you are communicating with people who have goals, too. Using proper etiquette forces you to put yourself in your audience's shoes, which ultimately gives you a better understanding of their wants and needs.
Posting personal info to a professional account, accidentally sharing private information publicly or inadvertently insulting an influential supporter are all etiquette mistakes that can create a social media firestorm. Will those type of mistakes end your career or company? Maybe not. But they will distract you from the business of being awesome and that can affect your bottom line.
In spite of its popular appeal and easy access, social media is complicated and complex and only produces strategic results if you use it strategically. You will need a variety of tools at your disposal to do this strategic work. Etiquette is one of those tools.
If you’re reading this, chances are you aren’t a newbie, but rather a teacher for the people who are. Your average layperson doesn’t know about FCC regulations on disclosure, theethics of content attribution or how to handle hashtags. They look to people like you for that education and guidance. Using good social media etiquette will help you set a standard for those people to follow.
Sure pleases and thank yous seem like little things that don’t matter a whole lot in the grand scheme. But there is a lot of rudeness, trolling and bullying on social media these days. Using good etiquette is one way you can help collectively tip the scales back in the direction of people being nicer to each other.
Good etiquette is a reflection of good strategic thinking. If you have a clear goal in mind for using social media then all of your etiquette -- the way you talk to your audience, the types of content you share, the tactics you use in each platforms -- will contribute toward your goal of converting social media activities into tangible, measurable rewards for your brand.
As Maya Angelou once said, “Just do right. Right might not be expedient. It may not be profitable. But it will satisfy your soul.” Social media etiquette is social media done right thatfeels right. At the end of the day, that counts for a lot.
For 100 specific social media etiquette tips, check out my new book, Social Media Etiquette: 100 Ways to Communicate With Grace and Class, (free to Amazon Prime members)
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The Social Cyborg blog is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Based on a work at www.kaneconsulting.biz.
I’m a consultant, strategist, author, educator & speaker with more than 20 years of experience in marketing and communications. I’m passionately curious, fairly sassy, kinda dorky and seriously good at what I do.