During the Social Networking 201 workshop we spend a period of time discussing the finer points of social media etiquette. Etiquette is just a fancy French word for respect. Therefore, the basis of social media etiquette is respect – respect for yourself, especially your reputation, and respect for others. In essence, it means protecting your reputation by writing posts that will enhance your visibility AND credibility with those who read your social media platforms.

FacebookIn my next few posts I want to draw your attention to some activities that you should avoid on specific platforms. Today. I’ll focus on Facebook. Please avoid the following behaviors:
1. Sending friend requests indiscriminately. If you do not know someone, or do not have a legitimate reason for including them as a friend (just trying to get the maximum of 5000 friends is NOT a legitimate reason) don’t do it! This is definitely not a credibility winner, and may result in offenders being reported to Facebook.
2. Sending a friend request without a brief introductory note. Even if you know someone well (in deed, especially if you know someone well) it is just common courtesy to include a brief note, i.e. “I’m looking forward to catching up with you and your family. Regards, John”
3. Inviting friends to join the myriad of games (Farmville etc). If they want to they will! Then you will be able to locate them through the game itself.
4. Repeatedly inviting someone to be your friend. If an individual does not respond to your first invitation what makes you think they will after your second, third or fourth attempt? Needy behavior is not a credibility enhancer.
5. Accepting friend requests from people you do not know. Not only is this not very sensible it can be dangerous. Spammers, identity thieves, viruses and other undesirables stalk Facebook’s hallways looking for unsuspecting victims.
6. Placing personal messages intended for one friend as your status. Facebook has a very useful message system designed for one to one communication, use it!
7. Using your personal page as a sales pitch. Facebook provides “Fan” pages for businesses, organizations and groups to promote their message. Blatantly and repeatedly promoting yourself or products on a personal page may reduce your credibility. Focus instead on adding value for your readers.
8. Not having a photo or not using a photo of yourself. No photo equals something to hide, which is definitely not improving your visibility or credibility. There is no excuse for not including a photo on a personal page.
9. Tagging people in unflattering, unrelated or irrelevant photos and/or comments. Absolutely never use Facebook as a forum to attack individuals (even politicians). It will ultimately reflect poorly on you.
10. Not responding to a comment about your post. Just as it is rude not to respond to a comment or question face to face, it is rude not to reply (even very briefly) to a Facebook comment.

Facebook is marvelous tool to maintain contact, engage in conversations and foster relationships. Don’t let it become an albatross which negatively impacts your visibility and credibility. Remember what happens on Facebook ABSOLUTELY DOES NOT stay on Facebook. Your Facebook interactions may result in real world consequences!