Mind your p’s and q’s – Navigating etiquette in the social media world

Etiquette is a tricky part of life. Our parents teach us that sitting at the table while we eat is proper etiquette and we obey because, well, we have to. As adults, we have to learn on our own. For instance, when someone travels to another country they learn that etiquette isn’t the same everywhere and in order to function in that society you may need to change the way you act and speak. I liken this to the internet, and more specifically social media. There are unspoken rules and reaping the benefits of social networks comes from following them.

This idea of proper etiquette in social media spaces dawned on me last Monday while I was spending time with my older brother, Mike. Mike is much like other 29 year olds in that he’s feeling stuck in his current job and wants to make a major change. I’m a huge advocate of embracing Twitter, Facebook, Yelp and other social media outlets for more than just personal entertainment, so I urged him to sign up on Twitter immediately. However, I knew a little guidance would go a long, long way so I offered to do a little twitter tutoring (say that five times fast) and we spent an hour or so going over Twitter. I explained mentioning, hashtags, retweeting and other basics. What I started it realize was that sure, you can figure out the basics, but what about etiquette?

I also spoke to Donna Tocci today. She’s a VP at Digitas who is quite literally a social media master and just so happens to be an awesome Emerson Alum. She mentioned the listen and learn method. I think this is absolutely the best way to learn how to properly utilize Twitter and other emerging social media platforms. By just listening, looking and following you can learn almost everything you need to know. Who’s tweeting who? What does something say when they are retweeted? What’s the correct way to comment on a link? All of these answers are there, you just have to take your time and look. I work with an organization, Visionaries and Voices, by teaching them about social media. I wrote up a quick reference Twitter guide for them and Below you’ll find my top three tips for getting started:

1)   Begin following users with similar interests. In this case, Cincinnati organizations in the arts or non-profits. Also look for local users how are heavy twitters. Following and engaging them will likely increase your amount of followers and retweets.

2)   Put out daily content. At least once a day, at either around 11 or 4, tweet a picture or article you’re featured in. This gives your followers an opportunity to retweet your content. Thank people who retweet you. Example: @laura_m_gardner Thanks for the RT!

3)   Use #FF which means Follow Friday. Choose 5 or 6 orgs that you think people should follow. Example: Follow these awesome people: #FF @redcross, @yelpcincy, @cincymuseum

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