Similar to the rules governing everyday interactions, there are guidelines for participating in the online community in a respectful manner.
1. Listen and interact.
Listen to your followers and interact with them. Social media is a two-way conversation meaning simply posting information will not grow a community. The followers may enjoy the information, but unless there is interaction, they will not stick around for long.
2. Be authentic.
The online social community is incredible because it values all personalities. There are professionals, comedians, dry-toned sarcasm, sports nuts, and on and on. Every kind of personality type in real life has a niche amongst the online communities, so be genuine.
Whether social media accounts represent an individual or a business, find their authentic voice and go with it. Be spunky, quirky, witty, chill – as long as it is sincere.
You will find a loyal fan base by being authentic and genuine in all interactions.
3. Promote others more than yourself.
Social media accounts will never be successful unless they promote others along the way. It may seem counterproductive to send followers in another direction, but keeping all the attention on your business will backfire and garner you a stingy reputation in the online community.
There is plenty of business to go around and if you are steadfast in this practice, the rewards will be great. Share your admiration for what other businesses do, the products they carry and the individuals you respect.
4. Give credit where credit is due.
Give credit where credit is due when sharing articles, information or news updates. Bottom line: if you are not the original author or did not find the information on your own, do not claim it as such.
Build friendship and open the doors of communication within a community by giving credit to the people who originally shared and by adding commentary to the shares.
5. Be thankful.
Every single fan, follower or friend on your social media networks is important. Thank them for their follow, interaction, sharing your information and make it as personal as possible.
Do not take their support for granted and it will bless you.
6. Treat others how you want to be treated.
Do not be negative, passive aggressive or criticize others. This kind of behavior will attract pessimistic followers, tick off the professional ones and leave you standing alone in the end.
The online community is not the place to voice depressing opinions or commentary. Do not participate in the gossip game and be weary of talking about your professional life if you are using social media on a personal level.
And above all, do not be naïve enough to believe that having a private account will ensure your privacy. If it cannot be shared with everyone, it should not be shared at all.
7. Do not respond emotionally.
Your social media network will at one time or another, be the victim of negative or rude comments. This is part of opening the individual or brand up to the public. Instead of shying away, be prepared to take some time to step away before responding.
Read the comment through a few times and then decide how to respond in a respectful and productive manner.
Responding emotionally is not wise and can cause substantial damage to any account.
8. Do not be a broken record.
If you have more than one social media account, give your followers variety. Do not post the same content across all accounts at the same time or your followers will head out.
Treat different social media accounts separately and post accordingly. Twitter is relegated to 140 characters while Facebook allows for more in-depth updates – share information that will showcase best in those mediums.
9. Be human.
Whether the account is a small or large business or the individual is well known or not known at all, “humanize” the voice behind it.
Share content that is not only relevant and interesting to your audience, but share personal information they may like to know. Every individual and business can benefit from showing a human side; sharing a joke or talking about the weather creates a connection because everyone can empathize.
There are plenty of ways to ensure good social media etiquette, but the best is to conduct yourself online as you would in person. The rules of the world apply in social media land and if you abide by them, social media success is inevitable.
Are we missing any important rules? Feel free to share or comment.