Social media has completely permeated our culture. No one will be mad if you pass up using super-specific social networking sites and apps (like Pinterest), but you’ll definitely get sideways looks if you tell people you’re not on Facebook.
It’s odd that, with all the popularity of social media, theredon’t seem to be any tips sheets or guides on how to “properly” use it. And that’s exactly why EarthLink has put together a quick cheat sheet to help you with the basics:
When the internet was newer, anonymity was key. Disguising your true identity with usernames like “HappyMom97” was a socially acceptable way to communicate through your computer. This is no longer the case. People want to find you (actual people from your past and present, like your friends, relatives, and coworkers), so it’s expected that you will now use your real name and a real photo in your social media profiles (some sites, like Google+, even require it!). That being said, please NEVER including sensitive information like addresses, phone numbers, or even your current and past employment (the one exception is LinkedIN, a professional social site where it pays to show off your resume).
WRITE FOR YOUR MOTHER
If you wouldn’t want your mother to read it or see it, don’t post about it or upload a picture of it. Only share photos of yourself that you’d be proud for an employer to see (the number of employers using social media to check up on applicants and current employees is on the rise), and try to avoid heated discussions. Those conversations always work better face-to-face, and people reading it can easily take what you say out of context, no matter how well-worded or thought-out it is.
BE FRIENDS WITH…FRIENDS
Only “friend” people you know in real life. If you get a message from a stranger, feel free to message back (most sites allow messaging…like an in-social-media email…between non “friends”), but don’t “add” them until you’ve met or spoken outside of social media.
KNOW HOW TO COMMUNICATE
- Send a message if you want it to privately talk to someone
- Post on a friend’s wall if it’s for a specific person, but one of your or their friends might enjoy what you’re sharing (like a recipe or a video of a sleeping cat)
- Post a status about something general that all your friends might enjoy (like the deal on lunch you discovered)
- Only comment on a post or status with something relevant (Example: if the original post is “I adore ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE by The Beatles,” comment “Me too!” and not “I miss you…how are you?” That’s better for a separate wall post or message.
Use these as a jumping off point to get yourself settled into communicating through social media. It’s meant to be a fun way to represent yourself online, so have fun with it!