Technology has given us the capability to navigate on a global scale, download and upload information instantly from almost anywhere, text, send emails along with a full menu of digital options including thousands of “apps” to manage our lives with. Though we each have nearly unlimited capabilities as powerful transmitting stations, when it comes to processing and accurately discerning the intent of personal communications, we are often feeble receiving sets. In our haste to increase our technological fitness, we have allowed other aspects of meaningful communication to atrophy.
Psychologists say that non-verbal communication represents two-thirds of all communication. Experts even assign “channels” to non-verbal communication such as gestures and touch, posture, facial expression and eye contact. Others important aspects of communication include voice quality, rate, pitch and intonation. Think about this: every single one of those cues are absent in Social Media. The keyboard delivers the message, so we no longer even have the benefit of seeing someone’s handwriting.
The Essentials of Social Media Manners
That’s why social media etiquette should be a required course, not an elective, for everyone. From young people creating an immutable digital footprint to businesses communicating the essence of their brand, there are things you MUST know. The future of your online reputation depends on it.
The Hot Spots
A challenge in learning Social Media Manners is that the channels are proliferating like rabbits, and each channel has its own protocol.
To simplify, let’s consider a brief description of the largest channels. I compare the atmosphere of these channels to social situations you are familiar with.
Twitter is like an outdoor concert. It’s “come as you are”, noisy and busy.
FaceBook is like a big backyard barbecue. Dress is casual but you’re likely to encounter anyone from your grandmother to your boss.
Linked In is a virtual business conventional. It’s rather formal; business attire & behavior expected.
Google Plus is like a trip to Starbucks. It’s popular with many, but not everyone hangs out there.
Pinterest is an art show. Some are there for pure art, some are there to make money and lots of people are just lookers. “Eclectic” describes this channel.
Instagram is like a photo shop where everyone is showing their favorite pictures.
Each of these varied environments come with expectations and protocol. The rules aren’t hard to learn. I’ll leave you with a few that apply across the board. Build the foundation well and then you can go as far and as high as you choose.
Start with the ABCs
As you arrive, take time to observe. Get a feel for the “room” rather than barging in boisterously.
Be yourself. Your best self. Take time to check grammar and spelling. And I may sound like your mother, but leave your cuss words at the door.
Caution is necessary regarding automation. It’s tempting to take shortcuts like services that post automated updates and allow you to buy followers. Not a good idea.
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