Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Communication Etiquette: Top 10 Tips for Communicating on Social Networking Sites

Whether it's Friendster, MySpace, Orkut, Facebook, LinkedIn or one of the many other social networking sites, courteous communication is still a must. The way we interact on these sites is definitely different than a phone call or email. Here are my top 10 tips to follow when catching up with your friends, colleagues and complete strangers on these sites.

1. Learn the software
Although most social networking sites are very similar, there are some differences. Make sure that if you choose to join a site you also have the time to learn the basics like how to write comments and send messages.

2. Follow the site's terms of use
Don't post obscene pictures and messages to your or others' pages unless you want to get banned from the site. Your friends probably won't appreciate you lewd taste in videos either.

3. Add a message to your friend request
I never accept friend requests from people who don't include a short message unless they are a very good friend that I'm sure I know. I'm happy to add people to my friends list, but let me know how you found me or how we know each other, especially if you haven't posted a picture.

4. Choose your friends wisely
Know why you are on social networking sites. Some people join to keep in touch with close friends and post private information and pictures that they don't want the world to see. Other people are marketing their businesses or are interested in meeting new people and add just about anyone. There is nothing wrong with either approach. Just think about the information on your profile and your audience.

5. Think about what you forward
A lot of these sites let you forward different applications, videos, articles, etc. to people on your friends list. Don't just blindly forward these things to everyone. Think about who might appreciate your forward and send it to those individuals. Don't bombard everyone with all your "funny" forwards all the time.

6. Reply to comments
It's always polite to write back to people who leave you comments or comment on your pictures, notes or other postings.

7. Keep private messages private
There are some things that shouldn't be discussed openly in front of everyone on the web. Instead of writing a page long comment on someone's "wall" or in their "scrapbook" send a private message that only you and the other person can read.

8. Use proper grammar, spelling and punctuation
This is on every single one of my top 10 lists, and there's a good reason for it. Your writing reflects on you as a person. If you want to maintain a professional and educated image, keep your writing clean and clear.

9. Check your account regularly
The whole point of social networking sites is to keep you connected with people everywhere in cyberspace. If you never check your account, there is no point having a profile on that site. When people write to you, they expect a response, and the turn around time on these sites is very short.

10. Don't get addicted
Although you should be active on your site, that doesn't mean that you have to surf all of Facebook all day every day. It's easy to get wrapped up in catching up with old friends and looking though everyone's photo albums. Remember to set clear priorities! It's also helpful to change your settings so that you aren't notified by email for every single little thing that happens on your site. Friend requests and new messages are good to know about, but you don't necessarily need to know every time you get "super poked."

I'd love to catch up with you on some of these sites. Just remember to write me a message in your friend request saying you found my link on my blog! :-)

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