12 Most Must Learn SMetiquette Lessons

12 Most Must Learn SMetiquette Lessons

Social media allows us to be super social — it’s part of the name, after all. Providing us with the opportunity to meet, connect and build relationships across continents, social platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and more have made it super duper easy to broaden our social circles. However, just like any “real life” group, every online community or circle has to deal with a wide array of personalities and quirks of character.

All relationships are governed by etiquette. The lines can get blurred when you factor in the immediate nature of social along with the inability to read body language and hear tone of voice. These “SMetiquette” musts will ensure you don’t trod on any toes, hurt feelings or otherwise jeopardize your online relationships.

1. Mind your P’s and Q’s

As in any social situation, manners matter. Just as they would in person, “please” and “thank you” both go a long way when it comes to building real and lasting social relationships. Give credit where credit is due, link to your sources and thank those who share your content.

2. Avoid TMI

Certain things are better left unsaid. Incredibly personal ideas and beliefs should remain just that, personal. If you wouldn’t share the juicy details of your personal life at an in-person networking event, why would you think it should be any different online?

3. Forego fanning the flames

Heated discussions sometimes happen. Sometimes you can engage in meaningful and mutually beneficial discussion even when differing opinions up the ante and the potential for heat. However, since I’ve chosen to use gambling terminology, I’ll continue by saying you have to know when to fold. Knowing when it’s time to politely bow out of a heated conversation can be a real relationship saver.

4. Don’t call me Shirley!

Taking the time to learn the correct first names of those with whom you frequently discourse via social platforms is incredibly important. With a name like Mallie, I’ve learned to answer to anything close on the phone, but with my name prominently posted on all of my social media accounts, there’s no excuse for accidentally calling me Melanie or — even worse, failing to use my name at all.

5. Rules really weren’t meant to be broken

Terms of service violations run rampant across every social platform. Whether this is the result of ignorance or the belief that the platform is too busy to catch you at it, it doesn’t shine a positive light on your interactions and connections.

6. Relationships require relevance

I really don’t care what you ate for lunch unless you’re recommending a new eatery. But your love for tuna on rye isn’t the reason we connected (more than likely). Share and post as you mean to continue. If I’ve followed your account expecting to get marketing tips and ideas, then that is what I expect you to deliver over the long term.

7. Time is on your side

Think someone dissed you or your brand? Hang on hot shot! Take a deep breath, walk away from the keyboard, have a fudgesicle and calm down! Rapid response is fine when you’re answering a query about your services, but taking your time and keeping cool can keep things from getting nasty. Remember, you can’t read facial expressions or see sarcasm through the Internet and your computer screen. Simmer down and settle before you fire off a reply.

8. Ask and your questions shall be answered

You’re aware of that whole “assume = ASS U ME” thing, right? It goes double, maybe even triple, when you’re online. Think someone dissed you? After that fudgesicle break, the smart thing to do is to ask for clarification of the statement. Did that person indeed call you out or did you let your perceptions get the better of you. There’s no harm in asking for clarification and trying to better understand a situation.

9. Use the appropriate “weapons”

While hashtags work great on Twitter and Google+, they have little value on Facebook and Linkedin, and actually detract from your message when used improperly on those social channels. Much like you wouldn’t bring safety scissors to a gun fight, using the incorrect tools and tricks on social channels makes it appear you’re broadcasting rather than sharing and that’s just not the “awesome” impression you’re looking to make.

10. Connect with intent and purpose

It’s not the number of connections that truly matters, it’s the strength and value of those connections. If you’re connecting simply to increase your follower or “like” count, you probably aren’t making the kind of connections that will provide mutual benefit. Connect with those who share great information and you not only have a connection, you’ve also got a content source.

11. Less isn’t necessarily more

While too much can certainly be WAY TOO MUCH, too little can be just as bad when it comes to social interaction. Your profile makes the first impression. If you can’t take the time to swap out the default avatar it won’t appear that you have the time to make real and valuable connections.

12. Nice trumps nasty every day

The old adage “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” rings quite true in the digital age. Step away from the discussions that trigger less than positive responses and save those types of discussions for close family and friends.

There are certainly many others ways to get off on the wrong foot and make a less than stellar lasting impression. I could easily have written a 112 Most list! Following the tenets of these twelve tips, however, should keep you safely walking the straight and narrow as you connect and engage with the wide and varied audience that makes social media so ding-danged special and valuable!

Featured image courtesy of stock_xchng.

Mallie Hart


A social media and graphic design enthusiast, she refuses to call herself an expert, Mallie Hart has worked with companies large and small, helping them create social media campaigns from the ground up. Not much makes Mallie happier than sitting down at the computer, cup of coffee – light and sweet – in hand, with multiple windows displaying Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, WordPress dashboards, analytics and tracking pages and more.

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Fiona Lucas
Fiona Lucas

Love it - right up our alley that is for sure!!  great post


Good one Mallie.

#10 was surely the best one.

Lisa Cook
Lisa Cook

Thanks for a great post, Mallie.  This is a wonderfully practical, spot-on 'How to Win Friends and Influence People' for social media.  I will be sharing this with my clients who are still learning the ropes of social media.

Veronica Athanasiou
Veronica Athanasiou

Top 12 indeed Mallie. Certainly 7 and 8 together are a life saver and number 12 is one to live by. This is certainly a valuable article to share with my audience. Many thanks and best wishes for many more great posts like this one. 


@Lisa Cook Wow! Thanks. I appreciate the shares and the compliment. I hope your clients find it useful. 


@Veronica Athanasiou Thanks so much for the comment. I'm thrilled to share these 12 Most Musts. A certain nun is happy they're being shared to a new audience. Have a great day.