Social media use has escalated. Although the majority of social media sites have existed for barely a decade, social media has become a vibrant environment. Hundreds of millions of people across the globe, from the young to the old, own at least one active social media account. Estimates indicate that the most used social media site, Facebook, has over a billion users, while other websites such as Twitter and LinkedIn have hundreds of millions of active users (Davis et al. 76). These users form a community. Whenever we connect with a social media network, we are joining a community that has some rules of etiquette. Whether we are using social media to seek new connections, keep in touch, or market our brands, we must follow these rules of etiquette to engage people appropriately and leverage social media. It is judicious to analyze behaviors that are often part and parcel of online interactions and how these contributes to one’s etiquette when engaging on the internet.
There are numerous ways to conduct oneself online and some bahvior could depict the person in bad light. The inforgraphic shown below shows some of the many unacceptable behaviors while interacting online
One essential behavior is to avoid mixing business and pleasure. People should differentiate personal and business social media accounts. It is crucial to keep separate accounts for the two types of engagements (Ramsay 257-261). While some public figures may enjoy the privilege of using their accounts as business accounts, it does not work for everyone. In most professions, it is vital to have a social media account with your real name and use it to share appropriate content. For instance, it is inappropriate to share photos of your moments in a night club. With social media, professional affairs should always supersede personal ones. Social media use is also present in the workplace and needs to be accompanied by appropriate etiquette.
Valdez, Schaar, and Ziefle identify that it is critical for organizations to be considerate of aspects like cultural acceptance, work disruption, formal correctness and formal addressing of social media in the workplace (430). These, when incorporated in an appropriate manner help build on the etiquette that surrounds social media use while in the workplace. Social media use needs to maintain formality when in the workplace. It means that one needs to be careful not to share informal information or depict informal behavior on social media cites that are connected to their organization or depict these behaviors while in their working environments. It is further necessary that the use of social media in the workplace is culture sensitive where no culture is discriminated or wronged on social media sites that concern the workplace or when engaging in a working environment. Managers and employees alike need to avoid social media disruptions while working. It is often marked by interactions online interfering with one’s effectiveness in their working environment. Even so, people need to be watchful of what they share.
Another code of proper etiquette is to use caution when posting and tagging photos. It rubs people the wrong way when friends tag them in unsuitable images or posts. Asking for permission before tagging friends in a group photo or funny post goes a long way in maintaining good relationships (Dahl). Also, one should be careful about the kind of posts that they put on social media. It is important to share content that is not questionable. While some professional issues may cause someone to have an anonymous account, they should not use the anonymity to post offensive materials.
Besides, it is vital to avoid bragging or showing off. While it is certainly in order for people to share photos of the good things that are happening in their lives, such as beautiful moments on a great vacation, they should not swank about it (Davis et al. 76). One could post about their achievements such as job promotions, but only with positive intentions – like encouraging followers to keep working hard, but not to impress or intimidate them. Before you share anything, it is paramount to consider how others might interpret it. A good post should always have positive attributes. For example, it should be insightful and informative rather than annoying and self-centered.
Moreover, it is vital for one to understand that their sense of humor is not universal. Unlike personal messages, social media posts may reach well beyond their intended audience. What some people may consider funny and exhilarating may not be exciting to others. Social media brings together people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. When sharing humorous posts, one should ensure that the humor is well-placed, and that is not offensive or unflattering for some people (Dahl). It is fine to use some fun when posting, but it is critical to ensure that it is appropriate.
Furthermore, it is essential to avoid being reactive. Reacting to social media posts, whether it is a politically inclined Facebook post or social media arguments, may trigger a dispute (Ramsay 257-261). Many people can engage in a social media dispute in ways they can never do face-to-face. While the consequences of an online fight may seem less straightforward, they can have far-reaching impacts on an individual’s personal and professional life. An online dispute never yields productive results. It can tarnish your reputation by portraying you like a hot-tempered person (Ramsay 257-261). Besides, an employer can use your online engagement against you even though the quarrel is not related to your job.
Avoiding oversharing is another code of proper etiquette. People should ensure that their social media feeds do not look like their inner monologue. It is fine to share what one is up to occasionally or how awesome an event was last night. However, one should not share too much detail about their daily lives. Oversharing can easily cause one to lose their friends and followers on social media. What a person share is an integral part of their online presence and personal brand. By oversharing and posting irrelevant content, one’s brand becomes boring, and people do not want to engage with them online. Avoiding oversharing is an essential code of etiquette that helps one maintain an exciting and engaging personal brand that represents their best characteristics (Dahl).
Also, maintaining proper etiquette on social media involves building a legacy for the future. It is standard for educational institutions and employers to scrutinize candidates' social media activity before offering them an opportunity (Davis et al. 76). One should always use social media in a manner that does not jeopardize their chances. Social media presents years of information about the user. It shows the photos they have shared, the comments they have made, and the people they engage with. With the digitization of society, people's exposure increases. As such, it is crucial to think beyond the next status update and understand that maintaining a good social media activity establishes a legacy for the future.
Proper etiquette on social media also entails honest representation of oneself. Misrepresentation of oneself amounts to dishonesty, which has a significant impact on both the personal and professional life of an individual (Dahl). While it is easy for people to misrepresent themselves on social media to beautify their profile, the information can be misleading and could cause more significant consequences. For instance, one can embellish their LinkedIn profile by devising a more impressive title for their previous employment. Although the embellishment might seem an innocent move, the person can be flagged as deceptive, dishonest, and unprofessional. The consequences can damage a person’s reputation.
Refraining from posting when impaired in any way is another important rule. Any form of impairment – alcohol influence, jet lag, or lack of sleep – can cause a person to break the code of etiquette. One should only engage online when they are in the right frame of mind (Ramsay 257-261). Also, one should resist the temptation to vent digitally after a dispute with another person or a stressful day at work. While social media provides a platform for people to express themselves freely, it is crucial to ensure that the expression is not influenced by factors that can hinder good judgment. It is essential to understand that one remains accountable for what they post on social media regardless of the circumstances (Ramsay 257-261). One should not share anything that can destroy their reputation.
As well, it is critical to comprehend each platform’s best practices. Although the principles of social media etiquette are applicable across the board because many are extensions of real-world courtesy, each site has its unique best practices. For example, LinkedIn has some guidelines on what to include on personal messages or whom to connect with. Similarly, Twitter has some rules on what to post. Before becoming an active user of any social media site, it is pertinent to understand its best practices. Since the companies keep on updating these practices, it is crucial to study them every month.
In conclusion, it is paramount to follow the principles of proper etiquette on social media when engaging with other users. From avoiding showing off to ensuring an honest representation of oneself, most practices are an extension of the traditional code of behavior. However, since social media is more versatile than the offline world, it is vital for users to consider the impact of the photos, words, and videos that they share. Social media keeps an online footprint of the users that can be traced over many years. Following the rules of proper etiquette on social media can help maintain an excellent personal as well as professional image.
Dahl, Stephan. "Using Social Media for Social Good – A Conceptual Overview." SSRN Electronic Journal . 2010: n. Pag. Web. 13 May 2019.
Davis, Jay et al. "Social Media Etiquette among Healthcare Professionals [20G]." Obstetrics & Gynecology 129. 2017. 76. Web. 13 May 2019.
Ramsay, Matt. "Social Media Etiquette." Journal of Database Marketing & Customer Strategy Management17.3-4. 2010: 257-261. Web. 13 May 2019.
Valdez, André Calero, Anne Kathrin Schaar, and Martina Ziefle. "Personality influences on etiquette requirements for social media in the work context." International Conference on Human Factors in Computing and Informatics. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, 2013. Web.
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