Social Media Etiquette

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.

18 Responses to Social Media Etiquette
  1. jules
    March 13, 2009 | 8:58 am

    Jennifer,
    Your new blog looks fantastic! Congrats on the fantastic job you’re doing here. I wish you all the best!
    Hugs,
    jules

  2. Andi Sherwood
    March 13, 2009 | 1:11 am

    Great post. Thanks so much for all the time and effort you put in to helping people make a good start into social media.

    🙂

  3. lcarey105
    March 12, 2009 | 8:33 pm

    Great post Jennifer. As a newbie entering the business world and venturing on the grounds of social media, your post reminds me of the reality of the virtual community that is made up of real people.

    I find that practicing social media etiquette is not only fun, but you become that much more intimate with your audience as you interact, listen to and learn about the people who support you and your product.

    Cheers,

    LeNesha

  4. Caroline Palmer
    March 12, 2009 | 5:02 pm

    As i have begun to venture down this road, you cannot have hit the nail on the head any better. I have shared these tips with all of my co-workers.

    Thanks,
    Caroline

    • liajen
      March 11, 2009 | 2:15 pm

      Thanks so much Graham! It’s been a pleasure getting to know you on Twitter as well. That’s the real value isn’t it…getting to know people. It enriches your life both personally AND professionally.

      Cheers to you!
      Jennifer

  5. Dawn-Michele
    March 12, 2009 | 2:14 pm

    This was some great info. for all of us. Thank you for taking the time to share it. I just joined another social networking group, and the first 12 messages I recieved were . . . “come check out my website!” Not one welcome to the group, how did you find out about us, how is the weather in Seattle, nothing, nadda, zilch! So I know you words will help many others, I plan on passing this along, again, thanks, DM

  6. Nina Anderson
    March 12, 2009 | 8:31 am

    Thanks Jennifer for the awesome advise. I am new to both direct selling and social media. I am constantly seeking information to learn everything I can and using proper etiquette is on the top of my list. I realized quite quickly that social media is about building relationships, trust and getting to know your fellow social marketers and not about getting the “quick sale”. I want to grow my business and have found that while cultivating these relationships, the rest starts to fall into place.

    Love your articles.

  7. Cricket
    March 11, 2009 | 6:35 pm

    Thank you for the valuable information. As social media becomes more and more popular we all need to know the “corporate culture”.

  8. Denise Berry
    March 11, 2009 | 5:16 pm

    Thanks Jennifer-good tips, all!

  9. funfelt
    March 11, 2009 | 4:43 pm

    Great post! Imagine what the online world will be like once everyone ‘gets it’. Setting an example and helping guide newcomers is so important!

  10. Graham
    March 11, 2009 | 2:05 pm

    A great post. I think way too many people come barging into Twitter with the hard-sell. It’s such a turn-off.

    Definitely let people get to know you as a person, first and foremost.

    Folks, Jennifer sets a great example here. She’s responded to things I’ve written on Twitter, she’s become involved with discussion, NOT as “Jennifer Fong, the direct sales and social media guru,” but simply as Jennifer Fong, a great person to know.

    I’d have no qualms about referring her as being “authentic” to someone I know.

    And that’s simply down to the way she conducts herself on Twitter.

  11. Bill Kistler
    March 11, 2009 | 1:21 pm

    Great reminder, even to those of us not involved in direct sales, about how what you write often has a more widespread effect than what you say. With the growing popularity of such networks as Tweet and Facebook, I’ve become even more conscious than ever of what I write. You never know who might be reading.
    Bill

  12. Danny
    March 11, 2009 | 1:08 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this information!

  13. Eryn Cadoff
    March 11, 2009 | 12:51 pm

    Great summary of the right way to connect with Social Media, Jennifer! Well done.

    Eryn Cadoff
    Independent Wine Consultant
    The Traveling Vineyard
    Virginia

  14. Lisa Robbin Young
    March 11, 2009 | 12:37 pm

    It’s interesting to read my own thoughts just minutes after sending them to you. 🙂

    You have to look at Social Media very similarly to the dating scene – Be yourself. People will either like who you are, or they won’t. Those that don’t weren’t meant to be a part of your circle anyway.

    And like Momma said, “It’s THEIR loss!”

    There’s no use pretendign to be something you’re not, because eventually, it all comes back to bite you in the butt. People know me to be pretty much a straight-shooter, and a no BS kind of gal. But I also care about outcomes, people and want to make a difference in the world.

    When creating an online presence, whether using social media, a web site, etc. The most important thing is to share yourself. People have to know you, like you and trust you (to some degree) before they’ll ever do business with you. YOU are the most important product your company has to offer. Don’t try to be something you’re not.

    Great post, Jen!
    -Lisa

  15. milosmom
    March 11, 2009 | 12:13 pm

    Good job with this. I think that even if we try really hard not to “push” we all do it every once in a while. I try really hard, and truly have made some great aquaintences with Twitter. It is a blast and addictive.

  16. Imie
    March 11, 2009 | 12:03 pm

    You hit the nail on its head on this one! I completely agree. I’ve been in direct sales as well and now direct sellers and network marketers are my clients so I cringe when proper etiquette is not observed.

    The people that become successful in this business are those that practice proper social etiquette, be it in an online setting or offline.

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