Facebook has friends, Twitter has followers, LinkedIn has connections and YouTube has subscribers. No matter what you call them and regardless of how Social Media has changed the ways we communicate – good manners still apply. Courtesy and respect should be constants, both online and offline.
Before I share my thoughts on that, I have to say that I’ve discovered there’s nothing “virtual” about the friendships I’ve developed online. It began in the blogging community several years ago and just expnaded from there. It’s pretty amazing to have friends that you can connect with anytime of the day or night, that can make you laugh and make you cry, keep you current and take you down memory lane and who’ll tell you the truth. I look forward to trips to meet the marvleously interesting people I visit with often via the internet.
That should provide plenty of motivation to learn the protocol for the different social media channels. There’s no need to join a conversation and appear foolish with things like SHOUTING IN ALL CAPS or showing disrespect through ignorance of online etiquette.
One thing to be aware of is the big difference in frequency for posting in the different places. My opinion is that Facebook does not warrant more than 2 or 3 updates per day, max! If you have a lot to chat about, get on over to Twitter, where 20 updates a day wouldn’t raise eyebrows. LinkedIn is the most conservative platform of all, so mind your p’s and q’s.
It’s also good to be aware that people will “unfollow” or “unfriend” you really quickly if you’re always blasting out self-promotional updates. The operative word in Social Media is “social”. That means conversation and expressing an interest in other people. A basic concept that’s often overlooked – especially by newcomers who hear that Social Media is the place to advertise your business. It is, but I suggest the ratio of 1:7 for information about your product or service, mixed in liberally with general commentary, other people’s information and content that pertains to what you do but isn’t all about you.
The flip side of acting like a buffoon is not showing up at all. Conversation means you actually have to show up more than once every 2 weeks.
Take the time to get a feel for each social media channel and get off on the right foot with your new friends. Because there’s nothing “virtual” about them – they’re the real deal.