Etiquette Refresher for Social Media Marketers

Etiquette Refresher For Social Media Marketers

If social media plays into your overall marketing mix, you can easily refer to yourself as a social media marketer.

Whether you are new to the game or a first-time social media marketer, there are some tried and true rules of thumb to follow. Etiquette is always an important thing to keep in mind when taking part in any social activity. Social media and social networking are no different.

Let’s do a quick refresher today on some of the standard etiquette you should follow when marketing a business via social media. Some of these can be easy to forget over time, so our goal is to make sure not to let that happen.

Social Media Marketer Etiquette Tips

Use Your Real Name On Personal Profiles

Lately, it seems like I keep getting requests to connect with brands, but sent to me as profile requests. There is a very good reason that Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ offer branded pages – that’s where companies and brands are supposed to play.

For example, just this week I received a request from a brand that suggested they were in a similar space to Return On Now. The request was from an individual profile on LinkedIn. It showed an unrecognizable picture of some guy playing a guitar, and the name was their brand.

What did I do? I deleted the request without further consideration. There were several issues with this request:

  1. It was a profile with a mismatch between the avatar and the “name”
  2. They used a brand instead of their actual name
  3. The picture didn’t help one bit, since it was too blurry to figure out who the face belongs to
  4. They provided absolutely no context in the connection request, just “I want to connect to you”

There were several issues, but several chances to explain who they were. In the end, they simply wasted their and my time. Use your real name on your profiles and save the branded stuff for pages where it belongs.

Feature Your Own Face In Your Avatar Picture

If you are like most of us in the social media marketing game, you get invitations to connect from a variety of people. Some of them you know very well, but of course, you’ll also get requests from folks you either don’t know at all, or may vaguely remember interacting with in the past at a networking event or on another social network.

I’m great with faces, not always so great with names.  If we talked for more than 30 seconds, I more often than not will be able to recognize you in a decent photograph.

But when I click through to your profile, I expect to see what you look like. If you are on social media just for “shits and giggles”, do what you want. For social media marketers, you need to represent your personal brand better.

Especially on Facebook, the avatars run the gamut of possibilities. I see logos, political statement images, cats/dogs, kids, random objects, cartoon characters, beer glasses, and a whole range of items.

Hey, we all love that you have interests and passions and want to wear them on your sleeve. The right way to do that is to create a cool looking feature image and use it there. For the avatar, help us out and put a picture that actually looks like you.

Bonus Tip: Try to keep the avatar focused on you. Pictures of you with your whole family or your group of friends out on the town don’t help us know what YOU look like. Crop out your own face if you need to and use that for your avatar, then put the group shot in your feature image.

Make it easy for us to connect with you!

Don’t Forget Those Are Real People

When we are sitting at a keyboard reading all of the musings, complaints, and other commentary on social networks, it can be a bit easy to forget that those comments are coming from real people. With real feelings.

When you read something and are chomping to rip into another person on a social network, take a step back and catch yourself. Before you hit “Send” or “Submit” on your response, ask yourself if you would say the same thing out loud to that person if you were sitting at the same table talking.

If you would not, I caution you to strongly consider deleting the comment before posting it. If you have ever read a response on a social network that had a strong negative impact on you, you understand the power of a comment. Respect that understanding before ripping someone a new one.

Filter Yourself Like In Real Life

Continuing on the theme of “These are real people”, you want to keep the social networking commentary in line with whom you really are. If you would avoid a tone, behavior, or topic among mixed company, that should flow over to your social media activities.

Here are some areas where this idea best applies:

Avoid Politics and Religion If At All Possible

The easiest way to get yourself into an online confrontation is to challenge someone’s core beliefs about religion or politics. Having made the mistake of diving into those topics on multiple occasions, I have seen the problems it can cause firsthand.

The thing about politics and religion is that you are banging your head against a titanium wall. No matter how good your intentions are, you will be more likely to offend someone for differing in opinion than to change their mind.

These are hot button areas where you may be perfectly polite, yet multiple members of your social graph will respond negatively and aggressively based on the words you say/type. I’ve even seen long-standing friendships fall apart and clients pull their business based on stupid Facebook arguments. It’s simply not worth it.

Keep Private Stuff Private

Social networks are easy targets for complaining for a lot of users. You see it every day.

While venting is accepted within reason – which makes sense since you may use Facebook or whatever platform as a support system at times – know when you’re telling us too much.

There are some topics that we simply need discretion for. Before you decide to broadcast something private to the Interwebs, think about the fact that nearly everyone you know may see it, even your boss and coworkers. You can’t un-say it! TMI was created as an acronym for a reason.

If you make a living based on your behavior on social networks, this is exponentially more important to keep in mind.

Watch the Language

This isn’t necessarily a point about cursing on social networks. Within reason, cursing can be absolutely fine. So long as you aren’t completely offending everyone you know.

Just know when you are overdoing it. At the same time, be careful not to accidentally offend friends or family by a poor choice of words. This is a touchy point for many of us. You are supposed to be yourself. That said, if being yourself allows you to blindly stereotype people or dismiss an entire profession as a “waste of human flesh”, you might want to start using some sort of filter.

Again, real people. Think before you speak / tweet / whatever. And remember, that person you offend today may be a hiring manager who decides not to even interview you tomorrow.

Rule of Thumb: If You Wouldn’t…

…stand in front of a crowd of your peers and express an opinion, you probably shouldn’t be talking about it on social networks. Period.


There you have it – my basic tips and reminders for social media etiquette. What did I miss? Surely there are dozens of other tips that could have been included. Feel free to share in the comments and let’s discuss.

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As Founder and President of Return On Now, Tommy Landry provides the vision behind our SEO and SEM methodologies. With over 25 years of business experience and a deep understanding of modern internet marketing techniques, he spends his time providing hands-on consulting, insightful content, and engaging public speaking appearances to Online Marketers of all skill levels.
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