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July 17, 2009

Etiquette for Social Media Sites and Blogs

Social media is social. Social, an adjective that one definition gives as pertaining to, devoted to, or characterized by friendly companionship or relations: a social club. That’s what social network sites are – social clubs. Where people with the same interests get together and learn, teach, grow, and bond.

Hopefully you were taught social etiquette while you were growing up. You remember, elbows off the table, shake hands when you meet someone, send thank you notes, say please and thank you. Just as there are proper ways to behave in the world, there are proper ways to behave online. Here are a few ways to make your online experience a pleasure for everyone else.

Be Nice

This is the big one. Everything after this is icing on the cake. There is nothing wrong with being nice; it doesn’t mean that you’re weak. Making enemies on social sites gets you nowhere, so drop your hatred and e-rants. It’s okay to have an opinion, even an extremely opposite opinion from everyone else. What’s not okay is to call other people names. If you’re trying to make a persuasive argument, use persuasive language and prove your point. It doesn’t help your cause to call someone an idiot. And, if you use the Internet to rant and rave, people eventually tune you out.

Just like in real life and business, we get what we want by knowing people, networking and building quality relationships. It’s the same for online relationships. And, as the old saying goes, “you can catch more flies with honey…”
You should value relationships over transactions. Gaining links from commenting on blogs should not be your main objective. Blog comments are just that – you are commenting to join the conversation. And you are joining the conversation to build a relationship.

Be Accountable

Just because you sit at your computer, anonymous, doesn’t mean you are not accountable for your actions and words. Don’t believe that there are no rules to social media. Don’t believe that you can do or say whatever you want without consequences just because you can hide behind your computer. People are smart and if you are a shameless, self-promoting jerk, they’ll figure it out and you’ll be done. By being accountable for your words, people will respect you, whether they agree with you or not.

Be Respectful of the Community

You are there to add value to the community you join, not to push your agenda and make sales pitches. The thing that will bring you relationships is making sure that when you add to the community, it’s with quality content. You may want to sit back and just listen for a while to learn about a community you’ve joined instead of just jumping in, maybe being ineffective and wasting everyone’s time. Before you submit anything to a social site, ask yourself if it will add value to the community. If not, don’t.

If you are commenting on someone else’s blog, don’t just promote yourself. If you have a post that refers to that conversation, then it’s okay to post that link in your comment. However, if you do it too often, you’ll get ignored or thought of as just a spammer.

Be a Listener

Yeah, sure, you think you know everything, but, if you listen to what others are saying, you might learn something. Listen to people that comment on your blog and see if you can understand where they are coming from. Your first reaction does not need to be a rant telling them how wrong they are.

Be a Giver

You know this one – you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. This saying applies to online relationships as well. If you want attention, you have to be willing to give it first. Do the people who burst onto your site or group and think that they should be at the top immediately annoy you? And how about the ones that constantly ask for your help by commenting on their blogs or always push their content on you. We all try to avoid “users.” Don’t be like them – you have to earn respect by giving more than you receive and by making sure that what you give is useful.

Remember to link to posts that you find interesting or informative. Chances are that if you’ve found it interesting and related to your group, someone else will too. This is a great way to get involved in social networking sites.

Be Nice

I know, this was the first suggestion, but it’s important so it bears repeating. You can’t get away from it, The Golden Rule concept can be found in cultures and religions all over the world. That’s probably why it’s the “golden” rule. And if we all lived by it, in real life as well as online, we’d all be a little better off.

Enzo F. Cesario is a Copywriter and co-founder of Brandsplat, the only online marketing and advertising company employing Brandcasting, the most effective way to brand your company on the web. Brandcasting uses informative content and state-of-the-art internet distribution and optimization to build links and drive the right kind of traffic to your website. The approach is simple, highly effective and affordable. Learn more at: