Social Media… Manners Matter!

February 19, 2011

by christiborden

Social Media Sandbox

Where is Emily Post when I need her?

In the time before Social Media, long before Facebook and Twitter, we all knew or should have known the rules of engagement. Someone holds out their hand; you shake it. A stranger smiles at you on the street; you smile back. A woman stands next to you on the bus; you render your seat. Someone sneezes; you bless them. When so many of our relationships now exist outside of the physical world, how do we translate the old rules for today? And have they really changed?

I read a great post by Erica Johnson addressing the etiquette of “commenting” on blogs (read here), which led me to ponder (as I often do) about other areas where we may all need a little direction.

Facebook: Stop the sales pitches, please. I love my many friends on Facebook, but I have painfully started to “de-friend” them when the only thing they bring to the conversation is a sales pitch. Imagine attending a cocktail party and starting in on the “pitch” the second you are introduced to a stranger. No…we strike up conversation, find common ground, add to the discussion and then maybe, if invited, hand them our card and tell them what we “do”. Real life rules apply here, too.

Twitter: See comments above. The sales pitches are even more annoying when squeezed into 140 characters. I think Twitter is best used to share information with like-minded followers. Yes, we can link to our blog or web site. But let the follower decide to follow instead of ramming our business/service/product down their throat with every Tweet. And please turn off the auto-responder. I would rather hear nothing than a canned comment (which usually includes a sales pitch).

IM: How in the world do we end a conversation politely? On the phone, I can say “I have to go, good-bye” and hang up.  But online where they can see I am still “there”, how do I tactfully let go? I end up saying goodbye at least 5 times before the connection is severed. I welcome comments here because I have not yet figured it out. Also, can we in good grace ignore a Facebook IM when we are otherwise engaged? Oh, the guilt…

Games: While I am not a big game player, I do enjoy the faux Scrabble Words with Friends. I recently had someone I know well “decline” to play me. Gasp? So, does this mean right now or forever more? Did I do something so heinous that I have been permanently banished from their Scrabble world? Don’t worry, I can still sleep at night but perhaps an explanation would have been nice rather than… “Declined”. Ouch:).

Frankly, I see Social Media as a huge sandbox filled with lots of wonderful, interesting kids all trying to get along and play together. Some follow the rules and some do not.

How well do you play with others?