If you have been using social media for more than a couple months, you’ve seen professionals who could use an etiquette refresher course. Interestingly enough, many of the offenders you have observed are extremely professional and kind in the “real world.” What accounts for the discrepancy between their in-person and online personas? They don’t understand that the rules of engagement online are exactly the same as those in person.

Seven Social Media Etiquette Tips

  1. Have a visible profile photo. I know what you’re thinking— “I have a private profile, I don’t want everyone to be able to find me!” The problem with that thinking is that private profiles make using social media for business much less effective in general. Would you let someone knocking at your door wearing a ski mask into your home? Exactly! No one wants a friend request from a faceless person either.
  2. Make relationships versus focusing on sales. No one wants to be friends with a billboard. Build your online reputation as an expert and influencer in your field. Focus on being helpful first and then make sure that your profiles are clear and concise. This way, when connections impressed with your information review your profile, they’ll have a clear understanding of your area of expertise or offerings, and may contact you with opportunities or business needs.
  3. Send customized notes with connection requests. Do you like robocalls? How often are you appreciative of receiving them? Standard connection request messages are robocalls for social media. Don’t. Do. It.
  4. Talk about others and give resources more than you mention yourself. One of the best ways to build a following on social media is to demonstrate your expertise by sharing resources outside of those you offer. Tagging those organizations/people mentioned in  your posts are a great way to build partnerships and get others talking about you too!
  5. Acknowledge positive mentions with comments, not just likes. If someone takes the time to create a 200 word post gushing about you online, you can certainly take ten seconds to comment, “Thank you so much for your kind words! I appreciate you.” Could you imagine offering someone an amazing introduction to a room full of your friends and the ingrate simply offers an upward nod to acknowledge your words? Likes are basically nods. They mean that someone agrees or has simply read something. Neither encourages future long posts of praise.
  6. On Facebook, keep your timeline open to comments/posts. Imagine being invited into a friends home and then being politely informed that you, nor any of the other guests, may introduce a topic of discussion. You may only comment on those topics introduced by the host. Closing a timeline to posts is the exact same thing.
  7. Don’t sit on the sidelines waiting for an opportunity to pitch yourself or your business. It’s no secret that the majority of social media users are lurkers and that’s fine. However, it’s always interesting to see those social media connections who never engage in conversation until they observe  an opportunity to plug their business or themselves.

This post originally appeared in the Personal Branding Blog.