#sowhoknew: 5 golden ‘Netiquette’ rules that you NEED to know
In everyday life we know, almost instinctively, how to act. Or at least we should do. Manners were drummed into us from an early age. But given that social media is relatively new, many of us haven’t yet realised that etiquette on the internet (netiquette, if you will) is just important as it is in the real World.
To be honest, I am often stupefied with the way that people project themselves online. Maybe it’s because they simply feel safer behind security of a thin glass screen, detached from physical reality and enticed by the siren call of a slowly blinking cursor inviting them to write whatever they choose…
In Scott Steinberg‘s latest book, he delves into the reasons why it is so vital to portray digital manners when we are communicating using any one of our connected devices. “Netiquette Essentials: New Rules for Minding Your Manners in a Digital World” explores how netizens can avoid making a complete idiot of themselves whilst tweeting, snapping or gramming.
In a recent Mashable article on the subject, Steinberg talks about some of his hints and tips – I have selected my personal Top 5 and also taken the liberty of naming them:
Stay Classy – Why do so many people treat social media so informally? Even if it is a more casual setting (such as Facebook) you are still going to leave an indelible digital stain on your personal profile if you don’t keep it professional. The advice from Steinberg? “If you wouldn’t say it in a social or work setting, don’t say it online.”
Also, keep it positive. Even if someone is trolling you, keep your cool. If you get embroiled in an online spat, even if you vehemently believe that you are in the right, you run the risk of being treated in the same way as your adversary. I covered this topic a few months ago with an article entitled ‘Who Called the LinkedIn Police‘ which did a deeper dive into the way that some people take it upon themselves to decide what they believe is appropriate content on the platform. The response I got from some quarters was pretty spicy but despite intense provocation, I didn’t bite. Well, not much. Okay so I lied, I did engage a little bit in the ensuing fracas but I always kept it classy. I think.
Some advice? Always try to follow the example laid down by author John Patrick Hickey, who wrote social media etiquette book “Oops! Did I Really Post That”: “When you know you can do something, and you feel good about yourself, you do not have to devalue others.”
Picture Perfect – This really should be common sense but some people post some really dumb photos of themselves. Again, the problem here is that even if you try to delete them, they will probably live on somewhere in the darker recesses of the internet. So before you decide to upload that (ahem) hilarious picture of you with your underwear wrapped around your head on your friends hen party in Magaluf, maybe you think twice before you post it?
And clearly on LinkedIn, you need to consider your profile picture even more carefully. You don’t want to coming across as a grinning simpleton or a serial killer so choose your headshot wisely. Oh and certainly don’t use the aforementioned photo from Magaluf, or the sad one with you fawning over some B-list celebrity or the ‘sunglasses and santa hat’ combo and (worst of all) don’t ever leave it blank (it just makes you look lazy or like a spammer).
Beware the Overshare – We’ve all got one of those friends who shares that little bit too much information right? They absolutely must tell you about their latest car crash relationship or what their dodgy bathroom habits are.
And as if that were not bad enough, they repeat the exact same behaviours online. Except now, they have a much wider audience of people rolling their virtual eyes at the sordid details displayed. As the Mashable article implores, “if you cannot resist the urge to share, do so sparingly – and in the most vague, unspecific terms possible – for the sake of involved parties, or friends uninterested or unwilling to participate.”
Stick no Bills – Never ever pitch your products, services or business opportunity on someone else’s public wall, profile or article. You just come across as being a chancer, trying to piggy back onto someone else’s success. And that’s just not cool. It just makes you come across as desperate parasite.
Equally, don’t use any of the professional contact details that some people use on their public profile for the same purpose. Cold calling in this way simply doesn’t work and will simply get ignored. Or even worse? It could get you reported.
In the Shop Window – If you haven’t figured out yet that both recruiters and prospective employers are scoping your LinkedIn profile, Twitter feed and Facebook posts then you need to wake up and smell the virtual java. Have a look at the results of a casual Google search on yourself and see what comes up? Have a peek at the pictures you have posted on FB? Look at some of your past tweets, what you have liked and retweeted? Peruse your LinkedIn history and see what comments you have made and articles you have shared. Then view all that data through the eyes of your current boss or a potential new one. What would they make of what they see? Is there anything damaging in there that you would prefer them not to see?
After all, first impressions count. You wouldn’t want your job application to fall at the first hurdle due to a mean tweet taken out of context or an ill conceived picture taken on a boozy office Christmas party would you?
So there you have them, my personal top 5 Netiquette tips. Do you think they are appropriate? Do you have any others that you would add to the list? As ever, I am keen to hear your views…
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