Tech Watch: Social Media Netiquette

Category:  Tech Watch
Sunday, April 15th, 2012 at 1:00 PM
Tech Watch: Social Media Netiquette by David Hunter, Epic Web Studios

 We spend countless hours of our lives using the Internet and engaging in Social Media.  According to the average U.S. Internet user spent 30 hours online in August 2011. They also visited an average of 99 domains and viewed an average of 3,123 webpages. There were 216 million Americans who surfed the web, out of 275 million people who have access to the web.

With all of these users spending 30 hours a month on the World Wide Web, it’s very important to remember proper Internet etiquette or ‘netiquette.’ Mind you, these are the social networking ‘rules’ that I found most valuable.

Let’s begin with email. Whenever someone talks about email and how nobody uses it anymore, I can’t help but think of the scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail – Bring Out Your Dead. I think of email as the man who is taken to the cart, even though he clearly isn’t dead as he states, “I’m not dead yet!”  Younger generations do not see the importance and necessity of email, but I must say that I would not be able to do my job well if it weren’t for email. Those of us who use email need to keep the following in mind:

  1. ALWAYS insert a subject in the subject line when first initiating the email conversation. This allows the person receiving to be prepared with what the email contains and if it is urgent.
  2. Address your contact with the appropriate level of formality AND be sure to spell their name correctly.
  3. If you’re sending an email attachment, be sure to let the recipient know what it is you have attached and the format in which it was saved.
  4. Use spellcheck! Emails with typos are simply not taken seriously.
  5. Respond in a timely manner. Just because someone doesn’t ask for a response doesn’t mean you shouldn’t acknowledge their email. At the very least, let them know that you have received their email.

For more email etiquette tips you can check out Remember, email is not dead yet so use your smarts when you are sending an email.

Recently, I have been tweeting a lot lately, but I’m still new to the Twitter scene (#noob) and have so much to learn. Of course there are the basics of using hash tags and the @ symbol, but there is more to Twitter than just re-tweeting.

  1. Don’t just follow people; engage them. Don’t follow someone expecting them to follow you back. Follow because you’re interested in what the person has to say.
  2. I ain’t no follow-back girl! (Sorry, Erie Reader readers, but I couldn’t help myself). The follow-back is very different from a Facebook friend request (which will be discussed). A follow back is not mandatory so don’t feel obligated to follow someone just because they decided to follow you, but don’t be afraid to step out of your social circle. Make sure you are reaching out to people you haven’t connected with yet instead of just communicating with the same select few. Great conversation and ideas come from those people that aren’t like-minded.
  3. Resist in tweeting too much (more than 20 times per day). If you have a lot of ideas, use a program like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to schedule your tweets so that they can be spaced out.
  4. Twitter isn’t a text, so don’t use text speak and “dnt tlk lyk ths.” If you’re struggling with the 140 character limit and are unable to squeeze a proper sentence into your tweet, just keep trying to slim down your tweet and expand your vocabulary.
  5. Talk about other people more than you do about yourself. A good rule of thumb is the 20:1 ratio.  Make sure you are reaching out to people you haven’t connected with yet instead of just communicating with the same select few. Don’t be afraid to communicate with people outside of your social circle.

Facebook, one of the movers and shakers in the social media world, has new users every day and many of them are still unaware of Facebook manners and netiquette in general. To keep your manners in check or to brush up on what you’ve been taught already (I’m a firm believer that people need to be reminded more than they need to be taught) take notes and make it a habit to practice these rules:

  1. If someone tags you in a post or status, you must either like or comment the status to recognize you were referred to.  This rule also holds true for wall posts and photo comments, be sure to acknowledge them with a like or comment.
  2. Tagging unflattering photos of your friends. The rule is simple: Don’t! If you want to share photos of you and your friends from a night on the town, send them as an email. If you DO post them onto Facebook, be courteous and don’t tag the photo of your friend hugging the toilet—it’s poor taste and you wouldn’t like them to do the same to you.
  3. Inbox messages follow similar rules as email etiquette. While you do not need to be as formal, unless you are doing business, you should respond in a timely manner. After leaving a message in your inbox for two days, it’s considered that you’re ignoring the sender.
  4. Don’t use your Facebook to air out your dirty laundry or anyone else’s. Nothing upsets me more than to see people acting rude and disrespectful toward one another on social media. If you have an issue with a person, use the Inbox and send them a private message or pick up the phone and call them, but don’t use their Facebook wall to call them out – it makes you both look bad.
  5. The friend request is a delicate subject. I made a rule with my parents when they began using Facebook that if they could figure out how to send a friend request to me without anyone’s help, I would gladly accept the request. It only took my mother a few weeks and after almost a year I finally received a friend request from my dad. If you are hesitant and selective in your friend requests then try this out: If you know you’re going to Ignore a friend request, let it sit for a few days to give the requester enough time to forget their request so when it is ignored, they aren’t insulted. You’re not required to accept every request that comes your way, but think twice before immediately hitting Ignore.

Social Media is going to continue to find new ways to have users engage and interact with one another, so it’s important to make sure you are remembering your netiquette. If you can’t retain all of these rules at least take this simple rule with you – listen carefully and think before you Tweet (or post)!

Angela Kelly, project manager Epic WebStudios

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