Modern Social Media Manners for Professionals

11/18/2016 09:38 am ET Updated Nov 21, 2016
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Modern manners are more important than ever in the digital world. Activity and behavior that occurs online leaves more than a lasting impression; it leaves a digital imprint. Modern social media manners help you maintain a positive online reputation as a community leader.

1. “It’s not personal [Sonny], its business.” Borrowing a quote from The Godfather, separate your personal account from your public and business pages as much as possible. Avoid oversharing personal vacation and family photos, or promoting a rival brand by mistake. It’s acceptable to decline co-worker’s, or random following requests, to your personal page. However, if you decline one coworker you will need to decline all. Let customers know where your public page is located. Schedule a few minutes (or hours) a day to post to your business account, and your followers will feel as though they are a part of your personal circle.

2. Introduction Is Key: Complete as much information as possible when making connection requests. Make sure your bios reflect your business, what you are posting about, and your personality. This alerts potential followers what to expect from your accounts.

On LinkedIn, avoid the standard connection request; instead take a moment to personalize. As business owners, we meet many people daily, help us remember faces with interaction detail.

3. Hashtag Etiquette: Brand your business and thoughts with a limited number of hashtags. Hashtags are meant to ensure you reach users with a particular thought-space. Use sparingly to avoid annoying customers.

  • #This #is #not #okay – Excessive hashtag use does not allow your message to effectively reach your target audience.
  • #RunOnHashtagsAreNotOKEither – Lack of readability and length can discourage use and take up valuable characters.
  • #OrThis! – With hashtags punctuation is not key. Leave a space if you must include exclamation points or question marks.
  • #ProofRead – As with any post, read and reread, then have someone else proofread the post. In 2015 users and news sources tweeted more about the Grammmys and not the Grammys during the broadcast.

4. Be Sincere: While the thought is nice, don’t use a robot to thank new followers. Let them know that you are thankful for their interest by interacting with them on social media. Never promise a follow for a follow or that you will check out their account and follow back afterward if you don’t intend to follow through. Consider whether you want to thank followers via direct message or post.

5. Don’t Feed the Trolls: Deal with trolls using humor, fact, kindness, and a ‘firm click.’ Let it be known that harassment is not tolerated. Block and report users that break this policy (i.e. a Firm Click)

Remember the platinum rule: Do Unto Others As They Wish to Be Done. This ensures no one comes trolling your accounts and protects your reputation. Nothing is truly private on social media! While a post or response was meant only for friends and family nothing ensures they will not share it with the rest of the world. Recent headlines report charges filed against users and job resignations due to people not thinking before posting.

6. LinkedIn: LinkedIn is the dedicated professional social media site where members are encouraged to share business insight, knowledge, experience, and motivation. Your profile enhances your resume, while expanding on your personality, and provide specific examples of your experience and work samples. Use a professional headshot reflecting who you are as a professional and not a selfie.

Take advantage of LinkedIn Learning, which LinkedIn customizes according to skills/expertise on your profile. Remember LinkedIn is not Facebook; viral videos, silly memes and quizzes, children, pets, and #foodselfies aren’t appropriate and don’t belong.

7. Be Active in Your Thought-space:

Don’t be a ghost follower. Like, comment, reply on postings of interest. Endorse to be endorsed on LinkedIn within professional licensing guidelines. Remember, do not just follow anyone, but those in your industry circle and others with similar interests to yours. This practice keeps bot followers and weird requests to connect at a minimum.

Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural consultant, an international protocol expert and the founder of Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide. She is accredited in intercultural management, is the resident etiquette expert for CBS Austin’s We Are Austin, regularly quoted by BBC Capital, Investor’s Business Daily, Fortune, The New York Times, and numerous other media. She is the best-selling, international award-winning author of Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, named to Kirkus Review’s Best Books of 2015 and recipient of the British Airways International Trade, Investment & Expansion Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards.

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