Monday, October 11, 2010
Because we live in a time where we often communicate more with people online (even those that are our dearest friends) vs. in person, it's important to mind our manners and be respectful when using social media tools. Since Facebook is one of the most popular, I thought I'd begin with it.
You might remember that in February I embarked on a Facebook Sabbatical. You can read the post HERE if you are interested to find out why I left. I stayed away for a whole six months and eventually re-activated my account as a way to stay in better touch with my Canadian friends whom I opened the account to stay in contact with in the first place. It lets me see their little ones grow and follow along with their daily trials and tribulations which often makes me feel connected even though I'm thousands of miles away. I'm still not a huge fan of Facebook for several reasons, and in fact I have often referred to it as 'Bragbook', since for many that is sadly what it has become.
Here are 10 Tips To Better Facebook Etiquette
1. Keeping it Classy- In terms of Facebook or any other social media outlet, what is written there is a representation of one's character. You can't be one person in real life, and another online. Well, you could be but nobody would respect you. It's not the place to post racy photos from a Bachelorette party or write crass comments on someone else's wall-there is no good time or place for those things, especially not on Facebook. Everything from the quotes you list and the photos you post to the content that you are responsible for on your page, should reflect the person that you truly are. What does your profile picture look like? Remember that Facebook is public and your photo could be seen by potential employers, dates, etc., so choose something tasteful that won't be an embarrassment later on.
2. Resist the Urge to Tag- My husband has a huge pet peeve when it comes to facebook, and I know he's not alone, it's photo tagging. Anyone can post pics of you from years gone by where it will live on your Facebook page for everyone to see until you notice it and opt to remove it. It's always best to ask a friend or family member before tagging them in photos. Be sure to get permission first. Not everyone wants everything about them posted online, even if it is an innocent looking photo. Unflattering photos are completely out of the question.
3. Milestone Manners-If you've just got engaged, are expecting a baby or have a life threatening illness, I can assure you that the people closest to you will want to hear it from you personally and not via the web. While sharing milestones via Facebook has become more popular, it is still in poor taste. The exception of course would be after you told those dearest to you and now you are merely informing the others whom you haven't seen since high school, etc. Likewise, if it's your best friend's birthday, facebook wishes are not enough and should not be a replacement for a real card in the mail, which is always appreciated and exudes proper etiquette for such a celebratory time.
4. Status Updates- It's wise to steer clear of having arguments with others via Facebook, even the kind that don't mention names but imply them by the chosen content. It's in poor taste to break up with someone over Facebook, speak unfavorably about someone who has wronged you or destroy someone's reputation which can easily happen with social media tools. In other words don't use your facebook status as a tool to vent.
5. Be Discreet- Never use someone's wall as an opportunity to write something to share with the world that they might not want anyone to know. Ruining a birthday surprise party, sharing private and personal information and the like is not only immature but it definitely destroys trust. Also, don't make comments about how much you really didn't like their now ex-boyfriend/ex-husband anyway, keep your opinions to yourself.
6. Replying to Others- Not everyone reads their facebook messages daily, however they do default to an e-mail account and like other e-mail, it's only proper to respond in a reasonable amount of time. Anything more than a week (unless you are very ill or on vacation) is too long. Even if you are swamped with work, have the courtesy to let the sender know that you'll get back to them but it won't be until next week once you've met your work deadline, etc. When it comes to photos, if certain friends leave comments for you, be sure to return the favor or at the very least reply. Facebook is about connecting, it's not all about you.
7. No Spamming- I don't know anyone who enjoys spam and with many 'friends' listed Facebook does give you the ability to do a mass e-mail to all or many of them. For personal accounts, it's best not to send communications in this manner. Instead, send a personal e-mail and make sure the people receiving your message want to be contacted in that manner prior to sending otherwise you're no better than the spammers that send viagra e-mails to their inbox.
8. Opinions- Like anything in life, not everyone is going to agree with things you might share on Facebook. In fact, they may even want to challenge you via your wall which could end up in a lot of back and forth banter. This is of course expected over political and religious ideas, think about what you will share before pressing enter. Know that what you write could offend others. When it comes to opposing views, don't be offended yourself if someone thinks your ideas are a bit nuts-not everyone will agree with you. By putting such information 'out there' that is a risk that everyone takes. Be someone who inspires and uplifts others and does so in way that doesn't alienate anyone who might read what you have to say.
9. Removing a 'Friend'- If someone asked to be added as a friend over a year ago and you have never corresponded once, it is completely appropriate to consider removing them-I have termed this 'facebook de-cluttering'. It's best to give yourself 24 hours like any decision so you won't regret it the next day. If someone keeps requesting you as a friend after you've ignored or rejected their request, you are not obligated to add them, don't feel bad for doing so. Some people enjoy collecting facebook friends while others try to keep it down to close friends and family only. It's your page-be mindful of others but do what is best for you.
10. The Relationship Status- I'm always saddened when I see a little message indicating that someone I know just broke up with their significant other. Unless you've been dating for a while or are married, shorter term relationships are probably best left off of facebook. You can always befriend the other person, you just may not want to advertise to everyone that you're in a relationship, engaged, etc and then later appear to be a drama queen who can't ever seem to make it work or make others uncomfortable. You can always choose to turn off the auto updates of your relationship status which makes things less public.
Above all, always treat others with kindness and respect. This is by no means a complete list, I shared these tips as they are the most prevalent I have observed on Facebook to date.
I thought you might also get a kick out of this funny little video about Relationship Etiquette on Facebook otherwise known as the 'electric friendship generator':
I want to hear your thoughts on Facebook. What are your favorite aspects of it? What things do people do on it that just drive you crazy?