Facebook Etiquette for Beginners

I often write about social media etiquette. Since social media is relatively new, a code of ethics and best practices are just forming now. Just as many of us have expectations for manners in the offline world, I think that there are expectations developing with regards to acceptable behavior in the online world.

I often see people do things online and think, “Oops, I wonder if that person really meant to do that.” Since I am connected with many people who work in social media, I can usually tell when their actions are intentional or not. However, when the action comes from a “social media beginner” or someone who does not use social media too often, I know that certain behaviors are due to inexperience.

I am pretty sure that a lot of social media beginners read my blog so I give you this list with the hopes of providing some some insight into what NOT to do on social media, particularly Facebook:

  • When a friend puts up a post on their own Facebook Timeline (whether it be a status update, a photo, or a link to an article), it is usually to generate discussion about the particular post or topic. If you want to talk to the person about something else, write on your friend’s Timeline. For example, if someone shares a link to an article about their new exercise routine and people are discussing fitness, that is NOT the place to ask the person what he or she is doing over the weekend. I see this happen all the time and, more often than not, I think that it is done due to lack of experience.
  • If you are sharing photos and you want to tag someone but the person does NOT appear in the photo, it is always nice to ask the friend beforehand if he or she likes being tagged in things like that. I am pretty outspoken about NOT being tagged in images in which I do not appear. For example, sometimes people put up photos of things that they find interesting, such as a famous landmark, and tag people who might also find the photo interesting. My perspective is that if I find it intriguing, I will comment on it when I see it in my Facebook News Feed and I do not need to be tagged in it.
  • I spend a lot of time reading blogs. I enjoy absorbing information and reading about different opinions. However, I notice that a lot of new bloggers will tag people when they share their blog posts on Facebook. My feeling is that if I want to read the article, I will. I do not like being tagged, especially if I feel that the tag is only there so that the blogger can also reach my audience who will see the post (with the tag) appear on MY Timeline. As such, I take advantage of one of Facebook’s privacy features. I have it set up so that I have to approve every tag before it will appear on my Timeline. If I find the tag to be relevant, I will approve it. Otherwise, I will decline it.
  • Be careful when writing on other people’s Timeline. I often see social media beginners accidentally write a status update that was actually meant to be a post on someone’s Timeline or even a private message. A status update is visible to all of your friends who look at their News Feed carefully. If you are trying to communicate with a specific individual then you will want to write on their personal Timeline instead.

Facebook can be very confusing at first so the best recommendation that I have is to take things slowly. You will get the hang of it! Do you have any helpful hints for social media beginners? If so, go ahead and let me know with a comment.

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  • Madonna

    Some good common sense points here Lauren.  It seems strange that people need to be told these things, but of course you’re right.  They do.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/MrJoePostman?feature=watch JoePostman

    Nice I dont think people realize how hard it is becoming to hide behind the internet now-a-days compared to a decade ago. Im not sure about others, but I know in my career field, people are getting fired often for making an inappropriate comment on facebook. May it be work related or private.

  • http://www.Blake.co.za/blog Sarah

    Very nicely written post Lauren. Now that you bring this to my attention i notice it a lot as well and sometimes the things people write are totally irrelevant to what i have written and it does irritate me. You just want to write back to that person and tell then to stop being rude write some where else. 

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