Social Media Etiquette

Today begins a merry week of some of my more popular posts on the blog.  Some may be new to you, and some may be refreshers.  Regardless, I hope you’ll find value in these posts.  I wish everyone a fantastic holiday season, and hope you take some time to plan how social media marketing will be a part of your overall marketing strategy for 2010.

Jennifer Fong

Social Media Etiquette

Originally Posted 3/10/09

I had an interesting conversation a few days ago with a few fellow direct sellers on Twitter. We were discussing social networking etiquette. In my experience, party plan direct sellers are among the most sensitive when it comes to making a good impression. We want to be sensitive to others around us, and many are worried about being “pushy” (yes, the dreaded “P” word!)

Yet as much as we worry about being pushy in the face to face world, we hop onto social networking platforms and all we do is push our businesses. Perhaps we’ve been told that this is a free form of advertising, so we jump on, gather a few online friends, and immediately start the onslaught of “buy my stuff,” “join my team,” “come to my online party.” No wonder people run the other way in social media when direct sellers show up.

We need to be aware of social media etiquette, in order to put our best foot forward. You wouldn’t show up to a networking event immediately telling everyone what you do, without listening to them. It’s the same thing in social media. So here’s a list of social media etiquette rules you may want to keep in mind before hopping on the social media bandwagon:

  • Listen first. When you begin using services such as Facebook, Twitter, etc, get to know people by learning about them first.  Set yourself a goal to learn as much as possible about 5 new people per day.
  • Interact and Give Generously. One of the best ways to get to know people in the social media arena is to interact with them.  So take some time each day to answer questions, respond to comments, and share the info that others are sharing with your network.  Share in ways that have nothing to do with your business, because you will be building tremendous value within your relationships.
  • Share information. One of the ways I start some of my days is to search the web for info that is of interest to my customer base.  Then I share several links throughout the day with my network, providing value.
  • Comment. Read other people’s blogs and comment on them.  One of the greatest compliments you can give to someone is to read their blog and provide feedback.  This is validation in the online world.
  • Learn the Unspoken Rules. This is a biggie.  There are unspoken rules to using social media properly, and you can find them easily by doing a simple web search.  If you’re going to use Twitter, learn to “re-tweet” properly.  If you’re using Facebook, have fun but avoid annoying people with an incessant stream of apps.  Learn what annoys people and don’t do it.  A little homework will save you a lot of costly mistakes…and lost prospects.
  • Remember that you’re communicating with PEOPLE. (This one is from my Twitter friend @grahamgudgin) Don’t say anything you wouldn’t say face to face.  Everything you type may last a long, long time, and go further than you expect.  So always remember that you’re talking to people, think about what you’ve typed for a minute before you hit the Send button, and treat everyone you talk to with respect.
  • Be real, be transparent, be authentic. (This one is from my Twitter friends @mikeconaty and @lisarobbinyoung)  It’s important to be yourself when interacting with social media.  When people see who you are and what you value, you’ll be able to connect with them on a deeper level.  Let people see what you care about and speak up about it.  As an example, I care deeply about social issues.  As a result, I retweet information about causes and events that I think have value on Twitter, and I post notes and status updates about these issues in Facebook.  I’ve even taken a day on my blog to talk about 12for12k, an organization that I think is doing tremendous things.  Let people see what you care about, and lend your voice to helping others see why it matters.

Incorporating a social media strategy can be such an advantage to your business, by expanding your reach, building relationships, and helping you learn more than you can possibly imagine.  And by making sure that you are following the generally accepted rules of etiquette, you will help to ensure that you are taking the best advantage of every opportunity that social media provides to you.

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