Social media has grown so much in popularity it’s practically everywhere. Everyone either has or is expected to have online profiles (on an ever-expanding number of social media sites), but there are practically no guides explaining how to “properly” use social media…the feeling after you sign up seems to be “good luck…just use it!”
EarthLink is here to help with “the 4 P’s,” which are easy-to-remember etiquette guidelines:
1) Personal Information
When the internet first came to be, anonymity was important. Distracting people with usernames like “HappyPerson7″ was an expected part of web interaction. But this has changed; now, people want to find you (actual people like friends and coworkers), so it’s become expected (and often rules of site use) that you will use your real name. That being said, we suggest NEVER to include sensitive personal information (address, phone number, or even your current/past jobs) (NOTE: the one exception to posting employmenthistory is LinkedIN,a professional social media site that exists for people to display their resumes and professionally network).
2) Profanity / Adult Themes
If you wouldn’t show it to your mother, don’t post about it or upload a picture of it. Only allow pictures of yourself that you’d be happy for an employer to see (especially since the number of employers using social media to check out applicants/current employees is increasing), and try to avoid heated topics (politics, religion, etc). Such sensitive conversations often are better in person, where people reading won’t run the risk of taking what you say out of context.
3) People You Know Are Your Only Friends
Your cousin? Friend her. The contact you met at a business dinner? Friend him. A stranger introducing himself? Message back (most sites allow messaging…like an in-social-media email…between non “friends”), but don’t “add” the person until you’ve met or spoken with him outside of social media. This rule will keep your social media confusion and drama free.
4) Proper Posting
- 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 if…you want to say something general all your friends might enjoy (like the deal on lunch you discovered)
- Only comment on a post or status if…you have something relevant to share (Example: if the original post is “I adore ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE by The Beatles,” comment “Me too! I also like IT’S BEEN A HARD DAY’S NIGHT” 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!