When you were little you learned the Golden Rule—treat others as you want to be treated.  Live by that rule in the social media sphere and apply a little common sense and you should be just fine. But just in case you need some specifics here’s a few little golden nuggets to guide you along the social media path.

1. Social Media is the Real World Too
Transparency is abound is social media and networking, whether you’re using it to market your product, business, or purely for personal entertainment and enjoyment. Remember, just because you’re behind a computer and not face-to-face with someone doesn’t mean the same rules don’t apply. Like Vegas, what you say in cyberspace stays in cyberspace. So don’t post or say anything you wouldn’t say out loud and proud in the “real world”, otherwise it may come back to haunt you. Think of yourself as a brand if you will, what you put out there is how current and potential employers, clients, mates, friends, and family will precieve you as and associate you with. The beauty of SM is you can control this. This isn’t to say you can’t be yourself, it’s crucial to infuse your personality and uniqueness into your SM communications to stand out of the crowd, just be aware of the image you’re projecting to others.


2. Mind your Manners
You weren’t raised in the woods, so introduce yourself, whether you know someone or not. Granted you may not have to introduce yourself to your Aunt Tootie on Facebook, but just as in real life someone may remember your face and not your name or where they know from, so be polite. If someone sends you a message, reply back. Fill out your bio or profile information. Tell me why should I follow, like, or friend you? Include the five Ws—the who, what, when, where, why in your bio or profile. If someone sends you a message, reply back. Do personalize messages and don’t use automated services to send out mass messages, channel your inner Martha Stewart.


3. Play Nice
Keep your tone positive and upbeat and avoid complaining and negativity. Don’t post photos of your friends and associates they wouldn’t want online either. C’mon does everyone really need to see those crazy pictures from your college days?


4. The Grammar Police
Check your spelling and grammar. Do U really have to B typing things like this? We Rn’t in junior high anymore so don’t be writing like UR. K? It’s hard to read and undermines your credibility. It’s fine to abbreviate when necessary but not everyone is a text messaging guru.


5. Be Generous
This is a biggie. Social media is all about connecting and sharing information, be generous with your knowledge. If you’re looking to promote your business you can offer up advice on forums and discussion groups that you have a genuine interest and knowledge base in. Don’t shamelessly post countless self-promotional bits about how great you or your brand or service is. This is just plain annoying, it’s kind of like dating, don’t make it all about you or you won’t get another chance. Instead, create a value by interacting with your community. Listen. This not only allows you to connect on a more personal level with your customer base it also builds trust and relationships with those customers. You get what you give, consider it Social media karma. It’s a long term commitment and it takes time to build a following. This isn’t “Field of Dreams”, if you build it will come. You have to bring something to table that your audience can take away with them. Add value and they will come.


6. Don’t Ask For Followers
You don’t go out on the street shouting will anyone out there be my friend?! This just looks desperate and really what good will it do you or your business? If it’s just numbers and not people that are genuinely interested in you or your brand?


7. Don’t SPAM
Do I really need to say more?


8. Be Honest
Transparency is what makes the Social media world go ’round. If you pretend to be someone else to sabotage another person or company, for example being an unhappy customer, you’ll lose any respect and trust you had to begin with. Again, it just goes back to the golden rule—treat others the way you want to be treated.


9. When in Doubt Don’t Push the Button
If you’re in doubt as to whether you should post or share something don’t. Trust your gut. Avoid posting when you are upset, overly tired and cranky, been drinking, etc. Not everything that pops into your pretty little head needs to shared with the masses.


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