Understanding Social Media Etiquette with Real-World Scenarios

Google social media etiquette, and you’ll retrieve over 4,000,000 results (at the time of this writing). Clearly, it’s a topic that resonates with people, and in the ever-changing, real-time realm of social media, it’s easy to understand why people are confused on what’s appropriate and what’s not. Throw in trying to balance personal and business accounts on a variety of platforms, and we have a free-for-all on our hands.

Not sure if something is appropriate online? Translate it into a real-world scenario.

What can you do? When you find yourself facing a social media conundrum, translate it to a real-world scenario. For example, it’s popular nowadays to send new connections an automated sales pitch, er message, asking for favors left and right: retweet my pinned tweet, buy my book, follow me on a plethora of other platforms (where, coincidentally, your new connection blasts out the same exact content at the same exact time). You may find yourself wondering, ‘should I do this too?’

OK, let’s translate this behavior into real life. You stop in a coffee shop to get your fix, and strike up a conversation with a guy behind you in line. (It’s amazing the people you meet in coffee shops!) When you get to the counter, you ask the nice gentleman you just connected with to buy your latte. Of course! Who doesn’t do that, right?

If you think that’s nuts, I’m with you. You wouldn’t do that, and chances are, neither would anyone else. However, people do this every day in the digital world and think it’s not only acceptable, but expected.

Social Media’s Nice, But It’s Not IRL

But, here’s the thing. It blows people away online too, and not in a good way. Trying to become a thought leader in your field or connect with experienced industry professionals to learn from them? Don’t immediately hit them up for favors upon connecting, or you’ll be viewed as just another leach.

That may sound harsh, but it applies to networking in person or online. Connections aren’t things waiting to be used, they’re people to build relationships with. When you approach someone or make a new connection, look at how you can bring value to the relationship — not what you can get out of it. Eventually, this person may be able to help you, but not if you approach him or her immediately asking for favors.

Don’t Ask To Pick My Brain. (And 11 other tips for building a strong professional network)

Talk to influencers in any industry, and they’ll share tale after tale of people constantly hitting them up for favors. They usually want to help others, because people helped them get where they are today. But they’re people, and they don’t like being used.

So the next time you’re thinking about doing something online, remember to translate it into real-world (or offline) behavior. Does it sound crazy? Then move on. It’s easy to forget that we’re still dealing with human beings in our fast-paced, digital world. (Unless you’re talking to a chat bot, but that’s a subject for another blog post.)

Share Your Thoughts

Do you agree with this post, or is our online world a different place with different social norms?

What are your thoughts on sending automated messages to new connections?

What’s your best coffee shop story?

Straddling the offline and online worlds,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about social media etiquette, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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The Olympics: A Viewing Party

As noted in my previous post, I love watching the Olympics. It’s amazing to see so many amazing athletes from around the world gather in one place to compete. I was invited to participate in NBC’s 2012 Olympics Diary, which helps the network gauge the effectiveness of its coverage via all platforms.

NBC's 2012 Olympics logo

Photo Credit: NBC Olympics

As a participant in this study, I’ve tried to sample the various coverage options available — NBC, NBC Sports & partner channels, nbcolympics.com, the NBC Olympics app, the Live Extra App and, of course, social media. Being billed as the first “social media Olympic Games,” the coverage — especially from athletes themselves — have opened access to fans beyond what was previously possible.

screen shot of #Olympics tweets

#Olympics Twitter Page

I’ve enjoyed some of the non-traditional platforms, such as the Live Extra app (available for iPhone and Android), which allows you to watch live streaming action of your favorite sports and athletes, as well as view recorded action. Select your favorites, so you can easily locate the game or match you’re looking for later.

Michael Phelps

Photo Credit: NBC Washington

Also, it’s been interesting hearing so much directly from the athletes themselves and from fellow fans discussing the festivities. During the course of the Games, Michael Phelps gained his one millionth Twitter follower, an incredible feat for a swimmer. Of course, he’s also the most decorated Olympian of all time. But I think it speaks to how social media can be an avenue for athletes of all types to bypass traditional media coverage and develop a rapport with fans.

How have you watched the Olympics? Do you prefer to wait until prime time on TV or have you been following via live streaming online or social media? Maybe a combination of multiple platforms like I have?

I’m happy to be participating in NBC’s Olympic Diary, and I hope our feedback will continue to help improve coverage for future Olympics. Are you participating in this study? If so, what are your thoughts? If not, what constructive feedback would you have for NBC?

I’d love to hear your thoughts! In the meantime, I’ll continue to enjoy competition between the greatest athletes in the world.

Jaime

Social Media: What Do I Say? (Part 2)

In the last post, we discussed how to recycle quality content from other resources. As mentioned, this is a great way to continue to provide your fans and followers with compelling content while not bearing the load of always creating original content. It’s also a wonderful way to make connections on social media platforms and draw the attention of others.

Original Content
At some point, you will want to create original content as well. Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be as intimidating as it sounds. There are several ways to quickly create engaging content to help draw your fans and followers into a conversation with you.

  • Successful case studies / testimonials — these are a great way to showcase what your business can do without saying so yourself. Customer testimonials or situations where you came through for a customer show other customers and prospects that you are a dependable business who will solve their challenges too. Check with customers before sharing specific information, such as their client names, order amounts or details of a project that may include proprietary business practices, etc.
  •  This / that questions — ask a question with two answers — this or that. For example, you see two new products at a tradeshow. Post pictures of both and ask your fans or followers whether they prefer product A or product B. It’s a great way to engage your fans and also garner feedback on what they like.
  • Pictures / videos — images are such a powerful way to break through the sea of text online and help to establish a human connection with your followers. Post pictures of your building, yourself with clients, product testing, at shows, etc. Don’t be afraid to mix in personal ones as well!
  • Quotes — inspiring or positive quotes can be a great way to make people smile and catch their attention. Quotes are often highly shared or retweeted, so they’re a great way to grow your follower base.

Don’t get overwhelmed with producing fresh content and stop updating your social media in fear of posting the wrong thing. Just use common sense when posting, and don’t be afraid to mix personal in with business. Yes, you have to be careful, but it’s a great way to show the person or people behind your business. Always remember…

People do business with people, not businesses.

They want to know who you are, what your hobbies are and the connections they have with you. Social media is a fantastic way to truly get social, and bring a human touch online and off.

Do you have other ideas on creating original content for social media? Please share in the comments. I would love to hear about them!

Jaime