Monthly Archives: April 2011

Social Media Etiquette: An Overview

There are so many social behaviors that can easily be associated with the phrase ‘good etiquette’: arriving on time, writing thank you notes, and men opening doors for women (ok, that last one might be a lost art, but you get the idea).

What you probably haven’t given as much thought to is the idea of Social Media Etiquette. As online conversation and interactions are becoming more & more integrated in everyday life, it is important to think about the impact our actions online can have.

Diane Gottsman, a nationally recognized etiquette professional, said it best when she wrote:

“Facebook is great tool for connecting to people, finding old friends and strengthening ties with new ones. Twitter and other online forums are also a useful way to stay in touch. However, just as with any social interaction, there are etiquette rules to help make social media a smooth and pleasant experience for yourself and others.

As a member of a team of social media experts, we have developed an array of best practices that our clients can utilize to enhance their brand. However, on the path to developing these best practices, we often come across worst practices. So, throughout this blog series, I will be discussing a number of real examples of, “some good, but mostly bad” posts from an etiquette perspective. We will critique them based on Diane’s 15 Tips for Social Media Etiquette:

  1. Remember, your posts aren’t just a chat between you and a few friends.You’re posting information and photos on a very public forum. Don’t put anything up that you wouldn’t feel comfortable seeing on the front page of the newspaper or on a billboard.
  2. Do your Facebook friends include a mix of family, acquaintances, business contacts, and buddies? That’s called “mixed company” and it calls for posts that are suitable for all of them. Posting comments or links that you would be embarrassed for your mother to read is a red flag.
  3. Don’t post anything on your Facebook page you wouldn’t want a future employer to see. Never assume the person that is interviewing you for that coveted job isn’t going to check out your social media pages. Recruiters and interviewers are interested in how you will represent their company “off the job” as well as during business hours.
  4. Request friends properly. If you have recently met or are not thoroughly familiar with a person you are friend requesting, write a quick message reminding the person who you are and how you know each other. Mention mutual friends or something that will make the person comfortable giving you access to their personal life.
  5. Don’t continue to attempt to “friend” someone that is ignoring you. And, certainly, don’t pick up the phone and call them to inquire why they have not responded.
  6. Thinking about “friending” your boss or clients? If your primary use of Facebook is to stay in touch with friends, think twice before “friending” those who may not appreciate the witticisms you post – especially when you’re on the clock or working on a project for them.
  7. Be prepared. If someone is bold enough to ask why you haven’t accepted their friend request, simply say “I just use Facebook occasionally for staying in touch with a few friends. It’s not a reliable way to communicate with me.”
  8. Facebook and Twitter are not synonymous with “Throw away all grammar and spelling rules.” Yes, with Twitter you must rely on only 140 characters and abbreviations are sometimes understandable, but outright misspellings, incorrect grammar, and slang are not.
  9. Don’t call in sick and post pictures on Facebook of your “sick day” at the races. You may be using your winnings while you look for another job.
  10. Don’t break up with your girlfriend or boyfriend over Facebook (or Twitter, text, voicemail, or email). Technology makes communication easy, but common courtesy still prevails when discussing any type of emotional or serious matter.
  11. Drop friends considerately. Facebook allows you to “unfriend” someone easily and discreetly with the click of a button. When you “unfriend” someone, each of you simply disappear from each other’s friend list with no fanfare or announcements. If you have friends who update their status 15 times a day with all the minutiae of their daily lives and you just don’t have time to sift through their postings, you can also hide the person’s status reports. This will eliminate the friend’s postings from your page and they won’t be aware of it.
  12. Don’t spam your friends with farms, mafia hits, and any other type of poke or game.
  13. Post photos with caution. Be sure you know everyone on your friend list before posting personal pictures of yourself and your kids. In terms of personal photos, how many photos do you really need to post of yourself?  Especially when you are the one taking the picture with an outstretched arm at a cosmetic counter, grocery store, car dealership, or beauty shop? Above all, please, no posting shots of yourself in a bikini or Speedo.
  14. Don’t post when you’re angry. Read your post before hitting send. Does it make sense? Are you ranting about something that will not matter in a few hours? Have you singled out or offended another person? Think carefully before posting something that you may later regret.
  15. Post wisely, post well. Your comments and links reflect who you are and what you value. Does everyone really need to know the details of your morning workout, that you just got your nails done or that you stopped at Starbucks?

This is just the start of a growing list, as I expect to add several more of my own as I continue my research. In the meantime, what rules do you think Diane and I are missing?


Gerrilyn Koontz became a full time content manager for Make Me Social after graduating from The Pennsylvania State University in 2009. Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, she is happy to be back in the South living in Anderson, South Carolina with her husband Erick and their cat Reid.


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The Social Media Conundrum [kəˈnəndrəm]

…..why, because I strangely love that word!

According to the Dictionary, (and yes, you are probably asking yourself … Merriam-Webster? No need to specify. The Dictionary is the Dictionary!) a Conundrum can be defined as a difficult problem, question or even possibly a riddle. The stories, along with commentary and interpretation, of this blog series “The Social Media Conundrum” will examine some of those difficult problems or questions (and maybe even a riddle here or there) that people face when exploring or reviewing Social Media Marketing.

This series will not just investigate the problem and solution, but will try to come alive with some real accounts (hopefully not as bad as this):

Ok, so maybe that’s not really how it works, but how is Social Media different for my new Skinny Jeans company vs. my personal everyday use? And how will it help my business? How will I measure it? Who is the right person to develop strategy and execute Social Media?

Or maybe you are already part of the Social Media revolution and asking yourself, am I doing it right? What can I do to make it easier to manage?

I hope to address the many Conundrums stumbled upon while heading down the path of Social Media Marketing.


Stephen Command is an Account Manager for Make Me Social, a social media agency that develops customized social media strategies for businesses.

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Socially Made – March 2011

Throughout 2011, Make Me Social will publish Socially Made, a review of social media’s continued evolution in both influence and commentary.

“Come. We live under the subways, with the CEO of Friendster.”

-A Travel Agent (along with an American Autoworker and a Rock Saxophonist), telling television writer Liz Lemon to join them because their positions are no longer relevant, on 30 Rock.

The line is the latest in a slew of quick jabs at the social networking site that has now fallen to #980 in global traffic, according to Alexa. However this one should hurt a bit more because if a renowned, mainstream comedy show feels that referencing you won’t fly over the heads of the average network viewer, you truly have become a pop culture punchline.

Misery loves company though, and Friendster has plenty of both, the most famous being MySpace, who recently lost 10 million unique users in a month. News Corp (MySpace’s owner) has tried an array of tricks to keep and add more users, going as far as having CEO Mike Jones say, “MySpace is a not a social network anymore. It is now a social entertainment destination,” in order to differentiate themselves from Facebook.

As a full-service marketing agency with proven results in social media, Make Me Social prides itself on being able to find the right package of social media sites for any organization to better brand and promote their capabilities. We research & analyze different ideas and platforms to stay on top or ahead of the curve, but Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have been industry standards for awhile now because they have an absurdly large audience that is a competent marketer’s dream (which is why Make Me Social has been able to be successful in a short time).

But these sites do not have a monopoly on innovation and are not beyond reproach. As an example, if each social networking site had the same number of users, would the “industry standards” still be be the favorites? Most likely not, but because that is where everyone is, that is where everyone else flocks to.

Lets be clear, a site like Facebook is doing a ton of stuff right. A TON!!! Why? Because they are smart enough to not become complacent with their position, whether it is in philanthropy or development of new projects. There are meetings I attend in which people don’t differentiate between Facebook and “social media.”

As someone that wants the progression of social media to get stronger, I have a couple ideas for what the potential up-and-comers need to do:

1. Don’t focus on the next step!! Think 5 steps ahead and work backward:

  • This goes against most of the things we learn in school, but for there to be new additions to the big names in social media, new and existing sites have to stop trying to keep pace and leap frog to the end and work backwards. Think of the answer, then create the question.

2. Try to Ledom!!

  • Unsure what it means to Ledom? Try spelling the word backwards. Too many new sites are taking what they see in existence and developing their Model after it (even those that don’t believe they are, are probably doing it subconsciously). So, if you think of an idea, flip it around and use that as the base.

3. Combine with existing technologies to educate, entertain and supplement!!

4. There is no “I” in social media (trust me, there isn’t).

  • The problem new social sites have is that for them to work, it isn’t good enough to think of people as individuals. Users have to be captured in groups. Some sites are good at capturing niche groups, but they then need to focus on multiple niche groups, which will lead to a transition from niche to mainstream.

MySpace losing users at the clip that they are, and their willingness to take a step back away in their brand reputation, should serve as the latest chapter in a cautionary tale on launching a mainstream social media site. However, the other thought is that perhaps the ship has sailed (for now) on successfully launching mainstream social media sites. A good barometer is determining whether a site like Facebook is really on the cutting edge of knowing what the public wants, or is Facebook to the point of creating a new advancement, and telling the public that they want it. If it is the latter, then stories here and there about privacy issues aside, a site like Facebook can do no wrong.

It is my hopes that the trend changes. There needs to be  more diversity – both in niche and mainstream social sites – which will benefit the public as a whole. Ironically, it is up to the public to drive this change, so someone has to pass this blog on to those people living under the subway.


Greg Morgan is Communications and Content Director for Make Me Social, a social media agency that develops customized social media strategies for businesses. With experience in industries ranging from sports to state government, Greg focuses in crafting messages for all types of clients in an effort to perfect what he calls “versatile communications.” Born and raised in West Hartford, Connecticut, he remains a loyal UConn Husky fan, despite now residing in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

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