As we are drawing closer to launch date of out Business Training Team website, I am doing more and more research on using Social Media in business. This research has pointed out many subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) things that I need to be aware of when interacting on sites such as Facebook that could potentially turn away the very audience that I wish to attract.
10 of the top Etiquette items are:
- Don't friend someone you don't actually know. If you must friend someone you don't know, include a message explaining why you are doing so. For example, "Hi, I'm your cousin's roommate!" would suffice.
- Be cautious when asking someone to join your cause. Not everyone is as enthusiastic about your kid's little league as you are. It is good to list what you are passionate about in your profile so people can relate to you, however, unless you know the person well, don't invite them to causes.
- You must have a picture. This is not the Question-mark book. This picture should actually look like you. Using a picture in which you appear significantly more attractive than you actually are creates confusion and disappointment. Don't post profile pictures that are "too sexy, cartoonish or that might alienate your audience."
- Other Profile tips: The biographical section of social networks vary. On Facebook, the service provides fields for a variety of interests, both professional and personal. Don't be afraid to post some nuggets that convey who you are, within reason. On Facebook, you can decide with great granularity what information people can view by altering your privacy settings. For instance, you can set it so every visitor to your profile sees that you enjoy golfing, reading and civil war history, but maybe only a certain group of people see your religion, political affiliations and relationships. For Facebook's "About me" section be short and concise. Don't worry about being clever. Oh, and a word about age. While you may want to include your birthday on your Facebook profile, so people can message you on the big day, you should exclude the birth year. Your friends and family know how old you are, and there's no reason for your professional ones to know.
- Daily Posts: Post content that highlights your personal interests and your professional areas of expertise. As a real estate agent, you may want to post tips on moving, local points of interest, tips on selecting an agent, etc. Posting personal picture slideshows is fine -- again, within reason. You clearly want to avoid the pitfall of displaying shots of wild revelry. But for all the agony about what's acceptable and what's not, remember that offering contacts a decent glimpse into what makes you you can have business benefits. It strengthens relationships. It really helps establish connections. People like to do business with people they know.
- Spamming people is a big no-no, as it can irrevocably ruin your social capital. It's great to be so passionate about things in both your professional life and personal life that you feel compelled to share it with people who are important to you, but remember that people can only take so much time out of their day. Also, don't assume they care about every little thing in your personal life. People know you're proud of your kids, for example, and that speaks to your commitment as a parent. Yet you need to know when to draw the line somewhere in how much they want to hear.
- On Facebook, one of the most utilized features is the Wall. It's a fun place to leave publicly displayed messages and a bit of witty banter. However, making specific plans with a person on the Wall, for example, is rude to that person's other profile visitors. Too many times, you see "let's get a drink at 5 today" posted to someone's Wall. Unless you want to include all of that person's friends in on the social engagement, there's no reason not to pose that question in the private messaging section of Facebook .
- It's important to keep a polite and measured tone on social networks; after all, the mainstream ones like Facebook are an extension of our lives in real. Say things you'd feel comfortable saying in person, and avoid inside jokes that only a few of your contacts would understand. With a social network that is fairly open, nobody is really going to be impressed when you post inside jokes that they don't understand; in fact, you run the risk of insulting people if they think you're making some veiled or coded comment about them. Remember, within most social networks, you can set up private groups where those kinds of exchanges will not only be more appropriate, but also encouraged. It's better to be clear than clever. Don't expect people to get it. Be very explicit.
- It is OK to de-friend someone. Be selective when you are asked to be soneone's friend. Don't feel that you have to accept every friend request that comes to you. You may also want to "clean up" your friends list from time to time. While many trivial actions do prompt Facebook to post an alert to all your friends - adding a photo, changing your relationship status, using Fandango to buy tickets to "Paul Blart: Mall Cop" - striking someone off your list simply is not one of them.
- Groups are a great way to get collaboration between people in a specific area. For example, you can create a neighborhood group where you live or in an area that you farm as a real estate agent. However, don't abuse group invites. If your friends are interested, they'll likely join without your "encouragement." And if they don't accept, don't send the group request more than once by asking them to join via email, wall post, or Facebook message.