Let’s start the new year off with a gift for your friends and family. Something everyone appreciates and everyone hopes to receive…I am talking about the gift of social media manners.
As a parent I am continually reinforcing everyday manners like saying please and thank you, keep your elbows off the table and being gracious when you receive a compliment. But in this new digital era, my family interacts online with humans as much as offline- so I am often talking to them about what is appropriate behavior. And as a career in digital marketing- I find people asking me questions all the time about what is considered ‘right’ on the social channels.
Here are a few guidelines. I have also included some quotes from the many many people who responded to a Facebook post (and via email) when I mentioned last month that I was working on this post. Based on the numerous responses, I would say people are PASSIONATE about what NOT to do. Keep that in mind next time you post.
Don’t like your own posts. If you posted something, we assume you like it. Continually liking your own post is odd. It’s like wearing a t-shirt that says “I’m awesome”-by the way don’t do that either.
Even though Facebook makes it possible for you to see what your friends are commenting on other peoples posts who you are not even friends with, doesn’t mean you should comment there as well. Especially if it is only to make the friend look stupid.
Original post of person you are not friends/connected with: “Here’s a pic of my new kitty!”
Your friend Bob’s comment: “That is awesome. I love cats!”
Your comment: “Really Bob? You told me last week people who have cats are idiots”
It is universally accepted that if you are not connected/friends with the original poster say NOTHING. Especially true if all you are doing is being contrary to the comment of your friend.
Quotes from readers about commenting etiquette:
“(I don’t like it) when people from one realm of your life (oh, say, a coworker) likes a comment you leave on someone utterly unrelated to them (for instance, your Great-Aunt Ellen’s car photo). Disconcerting and while obviously how Facebook was designed, still rather creepy. “
“For the love of god do not comment on friends of your children. No child- no matter a teenager or middle age- wants their parent commenting on their friends posts. EVER. My dad is driving me insane. No wonder teens left facebook for instagram”
“Commenting insults that end with some form of smiley face.”
Tagging is something that really bothers people. Especially since we all want control over our own image. I encourage people to ask permission before even posting images of others and certainly before tagging them. Of course SMART people have their Facebook settings set so that it notifies you and asks your permission before they can tag you as well…
Seems the anonymity (somewhat) of Facebook really makes people feel powerful. People declare opinions, pick fights and in general behave ridiculous when it comes to their own ‘passion points’. A rule of thumb is to ask if you would say the same things to someone’s face in a crowded party? Would you? Then be prepared to not be invited to many more parties. When people are publically attacked- they will UNFRIEND and BLOCK. Okay with that? Then carry on. Make all the points you want for as long as you can.
Also, telling people what to do (post this, post that) and using Facebook as a sales pool for potential customers? Not welcome. See what the readers have to say about all this:
“Taking a personal grudge into the public sphere and forcing people to "choose" by "showing their loyalty"
“Anyone that cowardly uses blog posts or comments to be flat out mean – which goes across platforms.Disagreeing respectfully: Fine! Cyberbully or general disrespectful behavior: Not Fine!!!!”
"Post this on your status" to ‘prove’ that you support [insert emotional plea]”
“Those posts about some lame cause that end with "repost to your timeline to show you agree. I know my real friends will"
“Those lame attempts at guilt "I know most of my friends won’t repost this but…"
“Please do not have your only communication with me be when you are trying to sell me your Tupperware, anti-aging products, etc., or when you have a prayer request. If I unfriend you because I haven’t heard a personal peep from you in months/weeks/years, don’t refriend me just to try to sell me on your new work at home proposition.”
“Grammar Nazis. Its Facebook not a novel, get over yourself and lighten up a little!”
(special note from the author: I have and will continue to unfriend people who correct my grammar publicly. Yep. It is beyond rude. Many posts are written on tiny phone keyboards and the grammar meanie is showing ridiculous superiority and rudeness and pretending to be ‘helpful’.
No thanks. Go away.)
There is so much to say on Facebook. And we are all our own editors, curators and publishers. Sometimes it can be hard to know what topics people enjoy and what MOST people (not all of course) do not like to read.
Quotes from readers about topics they dislike:
“Religion and politics. Nope.”
“Broad stroke sanctimony. Sharing inflammatory things you haven’t cross-checked or at least looked up on Snopes”
“Sharing "OMG I can’t believe our government would ________________" without checking it’s validity.”
“Excessive hashtagging. Hardcore tea partiers/religion/bigotry/extremity”
If someone posts something positive and personal “This is my favorite Mexican restaurant. I come here every year! (pic of interior)” Don’t comment unnecessarily negatively with “That décor is hardly authentic. Looks fake”. Just remember the offline advice ‘if you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all’…well that applies in social and LIFE.
Quotes from readers about negativity on Facebook:
“Broad sweeping criticisms of how people parent, eat, sleep, drink (or don’t), read (or don’t), vote… pretty much broad sweeping criticism (but I don’t think this is limited to social media). Also, passive aggressive vague statements that are vague enough to apply to anyone they might know.”
“Letting all your Facebook friends know how morally superior you are and that they need to stop doing whatever it is they’re all doing wrong.”
“The feel sorry for me post created to gain sympathy from all your followers.”
Public shaming just because you can.
When commenters make irate (wounded/defensive) replies to posts based on their own errant assumptions about what the original poster was thinking; especially without asking any questions to clarify and make sure they’re not way off-base with their judgmental response.
Be happy. Be optimistic. But not TOO HAPPY …..seems to be the general theme.
“People that use it to pretend how great their life is instead of being honest and relatable knowing we all have ups and downs. Especially with raising kids. The ones that act like they gave birth to the only existing angels on the planet and how great they are 24/7.”
“No one’s life is THAT great.”
“Auto posting inane quotes (inspirational, thought provoking, motivational, scornful) just to avoid having a non-active period in posts on social channels.”
JUST TOO MUCH
I know we want to record our whole life. We have a desire to document all of it. To have a record. A timeline. So we will never ever forget. Facebook is the babybook we never finished. The scrapbook we never started right? WRONG.
A little self editing doesn’t hurt. I don’t want to look at my OWN kids injuries- and I certainly do not want to look at that bleeding hole on your dogs ear. And if you are ‘cleaning up your friend list’ just clean it up. Telling us you are doing it- is like calling someone to tell them you are giving them the silent treatment. What are you 6 years old?
My readers feel the same:
“Don’t forget to make a big announcement about your massive unfriending.”
“Oh!! And descriptive updates about their medical issues. Some days, FB feels more like an episode of House.”
“I get grossed out seeing up close pictures of holes where a tooth was on kids.”
“Seriously… NO MORE CROSSFIT UPDATES!”
“Watching people feel the need to spill out every details of their life on FB as if it was a diary. Religion and politics is on the list too.”
BLOCKING,UNFRIENDING and DELETING
Facebook is your party. It is your place of happy. Can you delete negative comments on your page or ones that make you uncomfortable or even upset you in some way? HECK YES.
Can you block friends and family who stalk you – only to be contrary to everything you say? HECK YES. If someone was being awful at your real-life party you would ask them to LEAVE. So just block/unfriend and move on.
Do you have to allow ALL of your family to follow you? NOPE. If your family is bothering you- you can unfriend them as well.
Remember- THIS is your place. Facebook is what you make of it. So take control and make it happy and guilt/meanness/gross free!
Oh one more thing:
The Magical Humblebrag. So much of identifying a humblebrag is really with the reader. What might be considered bragging to the reader might be very factual status update to the poster. And I use my ‘real life’ litmus test on those posts as well. “Would a friend in real life be excited to tell me they got their dream car they had been saving for 10 years to afford? And would I be excited for them?” of course the answer is yes. So the gal from high school posting a pic of her new Porsche COULD be annoying, or it could be the proudest moment of her life. And she wants to share that with you.
Do people humblebrag though ON PURPOSE? You bet they do. We all want a little validation for the goodness in our life. I try to embrace that bragging and see it as a need for someone to feel special if even for a little moment.
Thank you to all my friends on Facebook who contributed to this post. My hope is for you to share this post, to help your Facebook communities become a better experience for you. Did I omit something? Have any additional thoughts? Please share in the comments.
Special thank you to my friend Lana Waggoner for this gem: