There’s no question that social media has revolutionized communication. Just consider this: about 1 out of every 6 human beings on Earth uses Facebook at least once a month.  

With the advent of social media you can connect with hundreds, if not thousands, of people worldwide…all at the click of “Like” button. Like never before, you can truly share your life with the world. Social media has developed both rapidly and spontaneously, cutting across all ages and demographics.  But in its haste, it’s left behind many of the etiquette rules expected in more traditional human interaction.

While it has an old-fashioned ring to it, etiquette is still crucial in any social communication.  And remember, your post could wind up anywhere.

Spheres of Influence

An important place to start is this: make sure you keep your spheres of friends, business, and family separate. For example, lots of folks use LinkedIn for business and Facebook for friends and family. But did you know that there are even more sophisticated ways to keep your social media activities separate?  For example, on Facebook and Google+, you can group your friends into categories, specifying which groups will see which post or interaction.

4 Things to Ask Yourself Before Hitting “Post”

1. Will I Offend?

Once your post is off in cyber space, it’s tough to reel it back in. Remember that your connections can re-post it, share it with others, or publish it elsewhere on the web.  That off-the-cuff remark posted in haste could go viral.

For example, what if your neighbors were noisy last night. Should you really use those choice words about them for all to see?

As we all know too well, there are lots of ways to offend: bad language, angry comments, leaked information, or harassing comments. The old adage holds true: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” And if that’s not motivation enough, recall that your not so nice comment will forever echo into cyberspace.

2. Do I Mind Who Sees This?

Anything you post, even if only shared with friends, could go viral and be seen by anyone. Do you really want everyone to know your house is vacant for the week or that you just got your third speeding ticket this month? Be as discrete as you would in real life.

3. How Much Is Too Much?

How many times do you post a day or even an hour? Posting hourly is usually too much, unless each one is unique and interesting. Not many people are interested in that new toenail clipper you just got or the fact that you’ve now arrived to work and then home and then work again.

Be careful about what time of day you post as well. If your boss finds out about your posting-spree during work hours, he or she probably won’t “Like” it.

4. Did I Spell Check?

Ah, grammar, correct spelling, proper speech: social media renders these mostly unneeded. “Text-speak” is typically acceptable for social media, but it’s always worth doing a quick once over to prevent miscommunication or embarrassing typos.  And we’ve all seen humorous examples like, “Well, I’ve got the runs. See you guys in a bit!” Or “Finally… out of this airport! I love it when my fly’s open!”

Social Skills

While social media is a much more relaxed form of communication, a few simple precautions can help you steer clear of embarrassment, offense, and regret.  Minding your manners helps you make “friends” and influence people. And that’s an attitude worth sharing.