You’re scrolling down your Facebook home page feed and come across, “Some people shouldn’t be so mean” and then nothing else. Lots of comments wondering what happened, what’s going on, is this person okay. What you want to say, is “Oh my gosh (this is PG, you may have chosen a word other than “gosh”) get over yourself”. But you don’t say it because you’re nice. You might think I’m going to address how to formulate the appropriate comment for this forlorn poster. You may think we should be sympathetic to this poor soul. But you and I both know this person does this about ten times a week and I’m here to say it’s the poster of status posts like these who are not following social media etiquette.
This brings me to rule number one: Cut the Mysterious Drama.
Drama, I’m all for it, if there’s a purpose other than getting people to beg for information and making your life seem more interesting and tragic than it really is. Posting about big news is appropriate; if someone gets married, dies, has a baby, a new job, or a new house, or finally publishes that book then share it. Get the “congratulations”, the “I’m so sorries”. It’s a way to get the news out and feel the love. Also appropriate are the great deal on shoes, your kid gets an A, (or a C in my kid’s case – whoot!), your team wins the the whatever bowl, and you finished your first chapter of the book you’ve been working on. What’s not appropriate? Posts like, “It’s happening again”, “My life is horrible”, “No one likes me” any post that starts with “Some people”. You are not twelve. Even if you ARE twelve, take note. What’s happening again? Be specific, don’t make us guess. Your life is not horrible, unless you have Ebola, you lost your job, or your spouse died. Everyone has someone who likes them, even serial killers, and if you’re posting, “no one likes me” you know people like you, and you just want to read all the people who tell you they like you. “Some people”? We all know “some people” is someone specific and now you have some other people wondering if it’s them and the people you want to get the message are either not reading your posts or are not realizing it’s them. I’m all for using these things in humor – for instance, “I ran out of coffee. My life is over” (okay, there’s SOME truth to that statement), but if it’s not being used in humor, don’t talk about your life being over (well unless it’s really over and then I will be your most sympathetic commenter and most likely bring you a casserole).
Number two: Politics
I personally don’t choose to discuss politics very much. I have too many friends on opposite ends of the political spectrum, and it’s just not fun to watch them go at it on my own Facebook page. Should you choose to be political, have some class about it. Make sure you have fact-checked. Be respectful. No matter what you think of our political leaders they are still people. Go after their policies, and not their looks, their families, or them personally. Really make it about the politics, and not the person. If you want a debate, then be prepared for one. Calling someone stupid because they disagree with you does not make for an intelligent conversation and it is a poor debate tool.
Number three: Be Polite
Listen to your mama and say, “please”, “thank you”, “excuse me”, and “you’re welcome”. It never goes out of style, it’s polite, and the right thing to do (and so easy, why wouldn’t you?)
Number four: Keep it Social
We posted a blog post about keeping social media social and you can read more about it here. While social media is a great place to sell your book, keep the emphasis on the social and developing relationships.
Number five: Follow-Backs and “Likes”
Unless you’re at capacity (Twitter has that strange algorithm where you can’t follow a percentage over who is following you), or the person following you is, um, “off”, there’s no harm in giving a follow-back. “Like” people’s pages and posts, comment, and have conversations. If someone takes the time to comment on your post, “like” or reply back. It makes people feel good. Part of etiquette is making others feel welcome and heard. I understand a reply isn’t possible with every comment left on your page, but a ‘like’ for a comment shows you are looking at the responses to your posts. I love it when people DM (direct message) a thank you when I’ve followed them on Twitter. If you receive a negative comment, be respectful back. Getting into it on Facebook doesn’t make either of you look good. A simple, “hmm, we’ll have to agree to disagree”, or a “thank you for your opinion” is enough. No matter how much you defend yourself, the other person will spend that much more angry energy trying to bring you down. Don’t let them. I tell my kids this all the time, a small chuckle, shrug of the shoulders and a “hmm” will stop mean comments in their tracks more so than any kind of argument. You are not a fish – don’t take the bait, just swim away.
Number six: Correcting Facts and Grammar Errors
I appreciate it when people point out my mistakes. I admit I am not perfect – not even close (ask my children). When you do point it out though, be specific. I got a “so disappointed” reply once and it took me a good 15 minutes to realize the disappointment was because I used the wrong your/you’re in a post (FYI – I know HOW to use these, it was a typo and lack of editing on my part). Most of us make mistakes; they happen. It’s appropriate to point them out in a polite and specific way. If you have never made a grammatical mistake, first of all, WOW, and secondly, be kind to the rest of us.
Number seven: Animals, Food porn, and Children
Why not. If people didn’t love cute puppy pictures they really wouldn’t be all over the internet. If your profile is public, I would caution using pictures of your kids, some people do, some don’t. I have, but I always wonder if I should have. Have you created a wonderful meal, why not share it (and the recipe please). It’s a way for people to get to know you. Just, please, don’t post every meal, every work out, and your kid and pet in every setting. Use all of these sparingly.
Social media should be fun. Have a great time with it. Just be aware there is a person on the other end of that computer and what you post does matter.