5 Rules for Social Media

When it comes to social media, some people think they should put it all out there while others are loathe to reveal any part of their personal lives.  Knowing where to draw the line can be difficult, but really, it all comes down to common sense and a little self-discipline.

Here’s a list of 5 rules for social media I think will help.

1.  No politics, religion or BBQ

This has been my mantra for several years now.  Easily the three most polarizing topics in America (or any country), talking about your politics, religion or BBQ preferences will alienate you from 50% of your audience.  Democrats will wonder about Republicans, and vice-versa, same with people of different religions or folks who put sauce on meat and call it BBQ…  You want people to think about you as the person who can help them with ____, not as a member of X, Y or Z group who they don’t identify with.

2.  Obsessive self-promotion is a turn-off

The easy thing to do with social media is to plug it into your website and have a long list of links spit out to fill your stream with every update, or to jump on, manually link off to whatever you have going on right now, and then disappear, never to engage or comment with anyone.  This is an immediate turn-off for most people who are looking for value, and to connect.  At most, self-promotion should be 5-10% of your social media output.  And yes, that means 90% of your time should be spent being social.

3.  Don’t overdo it.

This one is difficult even for me.  I have the gift of gab.  You have to find a sweet spot where you are putting out just enough to engage, but not so much as to make people tune you out because you are spamming their streams.  Rule of thumb is to start out slow.  I suggest 15 minutes here and there, maybe in the morning, at lunch and before you head to bed.  Do a little update, engage with a few of the people you are following, and get out.  You can always increase activity later if it seems to be paying off for you.

4.  Be literate

With most social media sites limiting how much you can say with any one update (Twitter is 140 characters, for example), it can be very tempting to shorten words or use abbreviations to get it all in.  I would suggest you think before you tweet, and take a second look at what it is you are trying to say.  U dnt wnt ppl gssng ur int.  (You don’t want people guessing your intent).  Be clear and precise, it will be appreciated.

5.  Be careful what you link to your social media profiles

A lot of sites are offering things like Facebook login or connections to Twitter when you visit.  This has the benefit of being convenient for you (which is one of the reasons they do it) but connects that site to your profile even to the point of allowing the site to post your activity to your profile (which is the other reason they do it).  I had this happen to me recently with Pinterest.  I had no idea it was posting every single thing I pinned to my Facebook friends, but not my wall.  This meant I didn’t see it, but they did.  I cut that cord when someone clued me into the spammyness of what was going on.  So be careful when a site asks you to use your social media account to login on their site.  There’s usually a checkbox or something you have to click that will warn you about what, exactly, you are agreeing to allow the site to do.  Like post to your wall/stream.