Social Media Etiquette

Facebook Etiquette: 10 Rules for Better Socializing


There's no shortage of ways to irritate friends on Facebook. We'll help you avoid the biggest etiquette pitfalls with these expert tips.
By Christopher Null, PCWorld    Jul 28, 2009 6:00 pm

Digital Manners: New Etiquette for Web-Speed Life
Follow these tips to communicate politely and effectively using Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, IM, texting, and voicemail.
What's okay on Facebook? On sites like MySpace, anything goes (or seems to), but the rules of etiquette on Facebook seem to be a little more refined--not a lot, mind you, but a little. Keep these tips in mind, whether you're making your first friend or your 1000th.


Who should you friend? Some people adopt an everyone-welcome policy on Facebook and accept all friend requests; some only want real-world contacts in their friends list. In deciding on the right approach for you, bear in mind that the bigger your friend network is, the more application, event, chat session, and cause invitations you'll receive--and that can lead to some uncomfortable moments and the occasional friend purge.
Easy on the updates. As on Twitter, oversharing on Facebook can be a problem. Every meal eaten, every TV show experienced, and every weather condition observed need not be the subject of a status update. Ask yourself whether anyone is likely to care about your comment before you start typing.


"Now, choose 12 friends..." It's fine if you want to take a "Which serial killer are you?" quiz. When you complete all of the multiple-choice questions, however, you'll almost certainly be asked to invite a dozen or so people to take the quiz, too; there's no need for this unless you think they'll really enjoy it. Look for a 'Skip this step' or 'Continue to result' button (in tiny type) somewhere on the page, click it, and you won't have to send invitations to anyone as a precondition to getting your quiz results. Clicking the 'Skip' button on the following screen will prevent the quiz from showing up on your wall or being shared on your friends' walls.
Limit Facebook chat. Just because someone has a Facebook window open doesn't mean they're automatically available for a chat session. Facebook Chat is like any other instant messaging platform--use it appropriately, and recognize that your friends may be too busy to respond immediately, especially during business hours.
No pokes. If you are over the age of 16, don't "poke" people--seriously.
It's not considered friendly to invite your friends to a Facebook group that exists only to hype your business. Avoid "Group think.” One disconcerting trend among many Facebook users involves creating a Group for a business concern, and then inviting everyone under the sun to join the group. This is a misuse of the feature--and bad manners--since Groups are designed to serve as gathering places to discuss genuine leisure, cultural, social, or other common interests, not as ad hoc copy shops. Common courtesy should impel you not to create a Group for your business--but if you insist on doing so anyway, please invite only employees to join the Group. If your business needs a Facebook presence, create an official Page for it; then, if you must, invite friends to becomes fans of that Page.


Beware of embarrassing photos. Resist the temptation to post every last photo from your birthday party on Facebook, particularly images that may cast your guests in an unflattering light. If you have any doubt, ask the subjects of any iffy pics in advance whether they'd mind your posting the shots; then abide by their wishes.
Tag lightly. The same thing goes for tagging: The people in a picture might not object to its being online as long as their names are not associated with it.
"I am not an animal!!" Time to untag a Facebook image that identifies me as a dog. Or... untag thyself. It is no breach of etiquette to untag yourself from any photograph. Remember, though, that untagging is permanent: You can't be retagged to a photo once the tag is removed.


Ignore away. You are under no obligation to acknowledge a Facebook friend request, whether it comes from a stranger or from someone you know but don't want as part of your digital life. After all, you wouldn't be obliged to seat visitors at your dinner table if they showed up without warning at your house at 7 o'clock. (One alternative way of dealing with this situation is to add iffy contacts to a severely restricted limited profile list.) On the flipside, if you want to friend a stranger (for whatever reason), add a note of explanation to your friend request, explaining who you are and the reason for your request.

 

Twitter Etiquette: How to Tweet Politely
Abiding by a few simple etiquette rules can help keep you and your followers happily tweeting along.
By Christopher Null, PCWorld    Jul 28, 2009 6:00 pm

Digital Manners: New Etiquette for Web-Speed Life
Follow these tips to communicate politely and effectively using Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, IM, texting, and voicemail.
Because it's just a messaging platform, Twitter is far less complex than Facebook. Nevertheless, misuse and abuse seem at least as common on the former as on the latter. Some of our favorite Twitter etiquette rules follow.
Reconsider the running commentary. Live-tweeting sporting events or conference speeches may seem like a public service, but who's listening? If you normally use Twitter to post once-a-week status updates but then abruptly let fly with 80 tweets in a day, you'll aggravate followers who aren't expecting their account to be inundated by your sudden outpouring. Consider composing a blog post instead, or offer a single succinct observation each hour.


Understand @ replies. Twitter's biggest failing is its inability to organize conversations; and in this regard, overuse of @ replies can be extremely confusing to your followers. The proper time for an @ reply is when you're adding to a conversation publicly, preferably with a tweet that can stand (more or less) on its own. "@bob - Yeah I know" is a waste of everyone's time. For simple responses, use a D message instead.
Go easy on the acronyms. Twitter was designed for cell phones, but your iPhone has a full QWERTY keyboard, so there's no need for the abbrevo-speak unless you are severely crunched for space and/or really are a kid. (Fitting tweets into a single message is a polite and admirable practice.) No matter how many people fail to take it seriously, spelling still counts on Twitter.


Think about the venue. As one reporter learned, it's not okay to Twitter a funeral. Twittering during a solemn ceremony (wedding, briss, court proceeding) is generally a no-no. If you're unsure whether a tweet or two is permissible, check with the event's host. Be prepared to receive a funny look in response, though.


Learn the lingo. Check out our "Twitter Commands Reference Guide" (last section of the story).
Up-to-the-minute spoilers. Since Twitter concentrates on the current moment, it is unreasonable to expect tweeters to suppress or censor their comments for fear of spoiling a surprise. Users should simply avoid the medium if they don't want to know the outcome of a sporting event or the ending to a movie.


Following the followers. In Twitter's early days, it was commonplace for all users to follow anyone who followed them, regardless of whether they had anything interesting or relevant to say. But Twitter has gotten too large for this, and Twitter long ago disabled the account option that let tweeters automatically reciprocate when someone chose to follow them. Today reciprocating a Twitter follow is strictly voluntary, and there is no discourtesy in choosing not to; still, it's a good idea to look at the follower's profile before you decide.


Retweeting in 140 characters. If a tweet that you'd like to rebroadcast with an RT exceeds 140 characters once you've added the RT @username prefix, the recommended course is to meet the character limit by truncating the end of the message. It is also acceptable to edit the tweet as needed to fit, while retaining as much of the language of the original as possible.
Mind the plugs. If your feed consists of nothing but plugs for yourself and your work, most of your followers will unsubscribe. Exceptions exist for automated news-feed services (like @cnnbrk), which function more as the voice of a site than as a means for a person to share thoughts.


Twitter is public. Don't forget: Unlike a Facebook update, a Twitter post can be read by anyone. If you don't like the implications of this situation, either don't use the service or set your updates as protected (though this largely defeats the purpose of Twitter).