In the etiquette of being social on social media there are 4 key things to avoid doing at the digital cocktail party. When you are rude, unprofessional or careless online you damage not only your reputation but that of your business as well.
We manage the digital marketing for a variety of clients ranging from political figures to businesses with an international client base so we have literally seen it all coming from professionals that behave behind their technology in a way they would never attempt at an actual social event.
Last night I hosted a dinner and the topic of what constitutes a major online social media faux pas came up. The examples and horror stories were flying and I thought today’s blog would provide a good opportunity to share what were identified as the top digital faux pas collected from our experiences. These might be what you are experiencing directly or what you might be doing yourself on a daily basis.
There are 4 key things to avoid doing at the digital cocktail party to help improve your etiquette on social media.
1. Not Adjusting Your Content to the Social Media Platform
This one seems to get people’s backs up the most. Each of us tend to have preferred social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn and each one of these platforms is unique in terms of the type of content that gets shared and how it gets shared. When you start taking the route of creating one post and pushing it through all your social media feeds without adjustments it makes you appear careless at best. Other words flying around last night included lazy, incompetent, and the worst – not respectful for professionals and businesses that are using the platform as it should be used. It really isn’t about being nitpicky, if you have put the time into creating quality content then take the time to make sure it is tweaked to be best received by the different audiences that frequent Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. You want to stand out for your awesome content not because you posted a tweet on LinkedIn.
2. Ignoring a Virtual Introduction
Sad to say everyone at the table had been on the receiving end of this one and guess what, they remember you and your rudeness even though it happened months ago. It cannot be strongly stated enough what a terrible first impression it makes when a mutual connection provides a virtual introduction and you ignore it and the other person reaching out to you. Nobody is so busy that they cannot take the minute or two it would take to acknowledge the social introduction and arrange for an eventual call or coffee meeting. It also makes the mutual connection feel terrible and lowers their opinion of you and it makes you look exceedingly unprofessional.
3. Playing Follow-Unfollow on Twitter
I must admit this is a personal pet peeve of mine and I’m delighted to see that several people on Twitter have started to collect lists of these repeat offenders and believe it or not many of these repeat offenders are self-proclaimed social media and social selling experts. You should never follow someone just to get them to follow you back so you can then unfollow them. It shows a real lack of understanding behind the point of Twitter and building a social network. I think Mark Schaefer described it best in the Tao of Twitter, “This action is for people who are trying to game the system to make themselves look cool or pump up a fragile ego by trying to make themselves appear in demand”. I can say from the conversation last night you are not appearing popular or in demand but you are definitely making yourself appear immature and unprepared to be social.
4. Spamming with Sales Pitches
This seems to be the Facebook business blunder of 2014. Too many sales pitches and not enough shared content of common interest. This faux pas is not unique to Facebook business pages though. I’ve seen sales pitches creeping into LinkedIn groups and I have unsubscribed from feeds that provided great content but their over the top constant sales pitches for events reeked of desperation and cluttered my inbox. There is a fine line between promoting your services, events or products and turning into spam. When you create these mini-campaigns to highlight a special promotion, launch or event step back and see how it would be perceived if you were contacting someone directly and speaking to them. Would they be annoyed by your third phone call of the day? Probably, just as I’ll be annoyed by your third email of the day.
A good rule of thumb is to behave as though the person at the other end of your message or action is standing in front of you at a cocktail party. You wouldn’t communicate with someone at an event using interpretive dance so don’t tweet on LinkedIn. Make sure your communication style matches the platform you are using to share your content. If someone provided you with an introduction at a cocktail party you wouldn’t look at the person, say nothing then walk away therefore do not ignore your virtual introductions either.
Visualizing yourself at a cocktail party will help you to remember that there is an actual living breathing person with interests, talents and feelings just like you at the receiving end of what you are doing. It will also, I hope, fan the flame of good manners instilled in you by your family and remind you to treat others as you would like to be treated. An important part of being social on social media is about sharing and being yourself but you still need to be professional and respectful whether your encounter is digital or face to face.
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