Business netiquette: The right way to use social media
Thursday, June 26, 2014
Modern social networks provide endless opportunities for associations and working professionals to connect with colleagues, peers and potential partners in new and novel ways. But as widespread as services like Facebook, Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn have become, basic rules of etiquette and business conduct still apply.
Keep in mind that not all businesses or individuals utilize or perceive interactions on social networks in the same way. Likewise, communications sent via these channels may also lose some of the subtle nuances conveyed through personal interactions.
Connecting with potential colleagues, partners and connections on social networks isn't just about being polite and respectful. It also requires observing specific unspoken rules of conduct, and creating constructive dialogue between all parties involved.
Looking to better connect with your audience? Here are several essential rules of business etiquette for social networks that professionals and organizations are encouraged to follow:
Interacting with others via social networks
- When asking to become contacts with strangers on social networks, add a personal note explaining who you are and why you wish to connect. Realize that some individuals may utilize these networks for personal reasons, and they may perceive outreach made via these sites as a violation of privacy.
- Adjust privacy settings so you have control over who posts on your wall, tags you in photos, and — via status updates or other methods — can share unwanted content with colleagues or clients, as these items may not be reflective of your or your organization's opinions.
- Avoid liking or retweeting a negative, controversial or unflattering status update: Your actions may be perceived as providing a tacit endorsement.
- Think before you post on social networks: Is your update of interest, and relevant to, your audience?
- Under no circumstances should you pitch an idea, product or job opportunity on someone's public wall or profile.
- Contacting users out of the blue on social networks with sales pitches is inappropriate. While some users provide professional contact information on their profile, reaching out via personal addresses contained there (email@example.com) is not.
Connecting with co-workers
- Prior to requesting or accepting connections from colleagues, think about material all sides are apt to share — Is it appropriate for consumption?
- Before connecting with your boss on social networks, consider if you'd still want to be connected if you ever leave the position.
- When posting status updates, photos or videos, or interacting online, let professionalism rule: If it's unsafe to say or share at the office, avoid saying or sharing it online.
- Do not tag co-workers without their permission, and do not tag them in images and videos that may be perceived as unprofessional, inappropriate or controversial.
What not to post
- Do not post negative, controversial, rude or potentially insulting commentary in online spaces.
- Don't speak ill of others or publicly deride competitors — good sportsmanship reigns.
- Respond respectfully to commentary aimed at you, or do not respond at all.
- Be careful which posts you like or retweet — such actions may be perceived as a sign of your absolute support for these posts, regardless of content contained within them.
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