To Friend or Not to Friend: Social Media Etiquette

Although social media is a growing part of our everyday lives, it has become apparent to me that social media etiquette is not inherent. Believe it or not, each platform has unwritten rules for how you should or shouldn’t interact with people. The way you present yourself online has a major impact on how people view you in real life. For a business owner, it is especially important to know proper social media etiquette and follow it closely. We could talk for days about the do’s and don’ts of each of these sites, but I am just going to cover the act of connecting or friending on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin.

facebook friends, social media

Facebook: The rules for Facebook are pretty lenient and they really rely on your own personal level of comfortability. Most people start by friending their friends and family, and people they are comfortable connecting with in real life. From there, they typically branch out to people they’ve met once, or friends of a friend. Most people don’t friend people they have never met, or have no connection to. However, this depends on comfortability. if you are comfortable with friending someone you don’t know, by all means do so. However, despite all this gray area about friending people you don’t know, we do know one thing; Facebook is meant to be a personal social platform. You really want to make sure you keep your professional connections to a minimum. If you are trying to reach out to someone you met through business, it is best to use Linkedin. More on that later.

Twitter: Twitter has a much more relaxed atmosphere when it comes to connecting with people. Again, you start by following friends, family, companies you like, celebrities you follow. But from there, it is very common to branch out to people you don’t know. Maybe you want to follow a peer in your industry who tweets inspiring content, or a blogger who you like. Twitter is all about starting conversations. It is actually encouraged to follow people that you don’t know and increase your social reach. In addition, Twitter is one of the social platforms where your personal and professional life are able to converge. It is totally acceptable to have both in this instance as long as you make sure your personal content doesn’t interfere with your professional life.

Linkedin: This is the trickiest platform to navigate. Linkedin is a social media site designed solely for the purpose of professional networking. Therefore you have to treat it like professional networking. Connections either need to mirror real life relationships, or have a clear reason to connect with someone. There is an unwritten rule that you should not simply connect with people on a whim, and this goes for accepting connections as well. Having a lot of connections on Linkedin is great, but having a lot of meaningless connections can be detrimental. You begin to seem like a social media troll and people will stray away from you.

social media connectionsHere is the bottom line:

Facebook: Start with friends and family but you can friend people who you don’t know if you feel comfortable. Keep it personal.

Twitter: It is encouraged to follow people you don’t know- so branch out, start new conversations. Professional and personal can mix!

Linkedin: Stick to people you know or have met through professional networking or introductions. Don’t let it be personal.

Keep in mind that social media and the internet are permanent. Make choices that reflect well on you, as well as your business or brand. Keep these tips in mind and you should be good to go!

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