Before getting into today’s post we wanted to let you know what this week’s topic will be for our 8 p.m. CST #shehechat on Twitter tonight. Are you ready? Wait for it….”social media etiquette” is the topic this week.
Yesterday, Shelby wrote about a few recent “run-ins” she’s had in social media with those who don’t practice the same level of etiquette she does. Sadly, I’ve had a few social media run-ins myself over the years. The reality is that most of us have. We are human and have emotions. On the other side, those we have run-ins with are also human and sometimes just make honest mistakes or errors in judgment. Let’s start by listing several communications styles that can result in social media etiquette break downs.
Social Media Communications Styles
I’ve picked the communication styles below by design. I’m guilty of each of them from time to time. I’m not calling you out. I’m calling me out so when I list my revised social media etiquette policy at the end of this post you’ll know the how and why that got me there.
No filter – Some folks like to share EVERYTHING that happens in their day. They let us know when they vomit, change a poopy diaper or get a first class upgrade on a flight. Status updates in this category can be quite funny when the delivery and choice of language is considered. It can also be downright gross or come off as a sense of entitlement.
Sarcasm – The older I get the more I realize how tough this one is to use in the long term; especially if you don’t know the person delivering the sarcasm well. It’s hard enough to pull sarcasm off face-to-face; much less online where people don’t know you well. Sarcasm can be taken as biting criticism and sometimes is just that and only disguised as sarcasm. At best, sarcasm is a tricky tool to carry around in your social media communications styles tool box.
Snarky – When done well, I absolutely love it. The big distinction between sarcasm and snark for me is that quality snark is seldom if ever directed at an individual. Good snark is just thrown at the universe and received or ignored.
Opinionated – You know “that guy” who pushes political, religious or other social issues at you non-stop all day long. The current political climate in the US makes for a great deal of this communication style these days. On the other hand, a few opinion messages mixed in with an otherwise balanced social media stream helps you to know the person a little better.
The Call Out – A good well-worded call out about a non-personal topic can be darn funny. A call out that attacks a person’s character or way or living life is not so funny and potentially very painful when you are on the receiving end. For example, you’re watching a sporting event and make a negative comment about one of the teams. You don’t say this to someone in particular; it’s just a general comment. For someone to then come back at you and call into question your statement is really off base.
My new social media etiquette policy
To know me in real life is to know that I speak with almost no filter. I do this perhaps to a fault. I’m also heavy on the sarcasm. I’m not snarky as much as opinionated. However, I do sometimes voice those opinions with my own brand of snarky sarcasm. I’ve even been known to make general call-outs, like last week when I got tired of listening to everyone complain about the upgraded Facebook and Twitter apps. I try not to call out individuals, but those kind of comments can be biting and not well received by all.
Rule #1 – Take the high road – always. – Yesterday Shelby mentioned that she chose to do nothing and not respond to each of the questionable messages. Silence is a form of taking the high road. If the questionable message does not represent a pattern of behavior, perhaps it’s best to just let it go.
Rule #2 – Be the receiver of your messages. – Before you send each message ask yourself if I was the receiver of the message how would it make me feel? Obviously, we can’t know how every person will react but taking a moment to think about the message will minimize overuse of communication styles like sarcasm.
Rule #3 – If you’ve got nothing nice to say…. – Sometimes it is better to just go dark and say nothing. We all like to call out big brands in the social space when the smallest thing goes wrong. What we forget is there are humans on the other end of those accounts. If you’re nice, you probably have a better chance of getting help from them. There is a nice way to say the airline is messing up your day and there is a not so nice way to say the same thing. Try for nice.
Those are the three rules I’m going to be using to frame my social media messages. Yesterday, Shelby shared five of her own rules. While hers are similar, I think there is enough difference to make a case for coming up with your own set of rules that fits you.