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A guide to not being Socially (Media) Awkward

March 23, 2012

Did you see that message I left for you? What on my facebook? No I tweeted it. Oh I didn’t see it. Sorry I meant via linkedin.

There are too many social media networks to keep track of these days, that’s an unavoidable fact. You want a presence on all of them but you don’t have time to keep them all updated. So just use a tool that updates them all right? Wrong. I think this is a cardinal sin for using your personal (and to a lesser extent, business) social media effectively.

Social networks are not all the same thing branded differently, they were created for different reasons and what you might want to share on one is not necessarily suitable for the other.

So here is my simple etiquette guide for how to use the major ones, ignore it and continue to be socially media awkward if you prefer.


FacebookFacebook

The biggest and for a long time most closed off social network.  It started out just being for your friends and people who you would like to be your friends but had only actually met once in the kitchen at a party.  It’s opening up more and more now (unless you are savvy with your privacy settings) but the rules still largely apply.

Your audience: You have a lot of control over who is in your facebook network, you could keep it to friends who will forgive you no matter what you say. In that case feel free to tell them about that weird dream you had last night. The game changes when you let in acquaintences, work colleagues and family. That’s when it’s time to reconsider that awkward sexual reference.

Do: Share cool new bands you’ve heard, photos about interesting things you are doing, statuses about what’s new (and preferably interesting) in your life.

Don’t: Allow games and countless other sites to post to your wall, use hastags, think your mum won’t see that thing you did.


Twitter

How you use twitter really all depends on how concerned you are with gathering followers. If you really want them then you should set about developing an in-depth social media strategy that will drive key users to your profile and generate the ego boost you are looking for. If you are a normal person just view it as a stream of consciousness (but only for the interesting thoughts, not every single one).

Your audience: The whole Twitter using world. Bear in mind that if it’s easy to locate your Twitter account then potential employers, friends and lovers probably will… and then they’ll have access to every single one of your past tweets. You can lock down your account but that really defeats the whole point.

Do: Learn the etiquette, hashtags can be wonderful things but you don’t need to use one for everything. Keep to a narrow range of subjects if you want more followers and say what they are in your profile, people like to know what they are getting.

Don’t: Retweet big news companies or well-known blogs all the time, people already know about them and probably already followthem. Don’t clog up peoples timelines with unwanted swathes of tweets or you’ll soon find yourself unfollowed.


Linkedin

A social media site that’s also a CV? Whose crazy idea was that? Linkedin could be the easiest social network to be socially awkward on but should also be the easiest one to get right. You can see what it’s supposed to be for, there’s no need to figure it out for yourself. Keep it work related, keep it professional and don’t view it as a way to make friends (just influence people).

Your audience:Potential employers and past employers who may want you back.

Do: Keep it updated and make yourself look interesting, contribute to groups and follow businesses you like. Linkedin is growing rapidly as a genuine source of candidates for recruiters and you’d be foolish to miss the opportunity.

Don’t: Treat it like Facebook.


So that’s my whirlwind guide to the major social networking players. Of course they is also Myspace, Pinterest, Bebo, Instagram and several others, not to mention blogging sites such as this one and Tumblr, but if you can’t play right with the big boys don’t even bother with the others.

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