If you’re going to use Twitter, Facebook, and other networks as a part of your original content campaign – and you must! – do it right with these social media netiquette standards.

Fact: The world’s all-time-great master of manners had the last name “Post.” Coincidence? No way.

“Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others,” wrote Emily Post a century before the Internet. “If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.”

For our purposes, the fork is promoting your company on social media. And you need awareness of the feelings of others to pull it off with any real impact.

When you post a link, question, quote, or video, the action isn’t taking place in a vacuum. Without a receptive audience, your efforts will be a waste of time. This goes for all content, of course – if you’re not writing for somebody, you’re writing for nobody, right? – but the challenge is magnified on social platforms precisely because you’re approaching potential clients and customers on their own stomping grounds.

So, what does this mean for your content marketing?

Let me start with an example.

The concept of social media netiquette reminds of my days running field operations for political candidates. Our campaigns placed great emphasis on meeting voters in their neighborhoods and initiating authentic conversations about the issues – conversations that we had to guide by staying on message – culminating in asks like the following:

Can we count on your vote?

How about a yard sign?

Would you be willing to sign on as a public supporter, with your name listed on the candidate’s website?

Interested in contributing to our campaign so we can keep knocking on doors and making phone calls?

Do these asks look familiar at all? Yes. You know them as calls to action:

Please read this post!

Please share this link!

Sign up for our email newsletter and receive this free guide!

Follow us on Twitter! Like us on Facebook!

To get the responses you’re looking for on social media, you have to conduct yourself like a volunteer canvasser. What do I mean by this? Please read on!


5 Social Media Netiquette Guidelines


1. Start by Knocking on the Right Doors in the Right Neighborhoods

Whether in politics or marketing, you win by mobilizing your base and moving on to expansion of your core audience with data analytics, common sense, and good instincts.

This is about targeting, and it’s twofold:

First, make sure you’re on the best social network for the task at hand, and make sure you’re tailoring your posts to the people you want to engage. In other words, avoid sharing irreverent videos on LinkedIn; avoid posting dry, jargony white papers (or pictures of dry, jargony white papers) on Snapchat; avoid Tweeting and Facebooking the exact same links using duplicate language.

2. Exercise Appropriate Conduct

We once had a couple of volunteers – more like “fans of free food,” in this case – who were canvassing shirtless and smoking cigarettes while walking down the street on a hot summer’s day. We found this out because a supporter in the neighborhood called us at the campaign headquarters.

On Election Day.

In a close race.

Which we lost.

Don’t be those shirtless dudes smoking cigarettes while knocking on decent people’s doors – your company is asking for customers’ time and business! This is Social Media Netiquette 101, if not Life 101: Be nice and polite. Don’t use foul language, get in arguments with customers who might have a complaint, hijack and domineer comment threads, violate their privacy, or post offensive stuff.

Remember: You’re a guest in their networks – they can kick you out at any time.

[Tweet “Social netiquette: Don’t be those shirtless dudes smoking cigarettes while knocking on doors”]

3. Talk AT? Talk TO? No – Talk With

This one is my personal favorite. It was my mantra on those campaigns.

You gotta give people a reason to engage.

Foster discussion with open-ended posts on Facebook. Turn your social media presence into a give and take.

The more customers can participate in your brand’s story, the better the chances they’ll be loyal and spread the word about what you’re up to.

One prized quality of killer content is its capacity to impress people with authority, influence, and thought leadership. But you can accomplish this – let alone convert site visitors into customers – only by first earning people’s trust, admiration, and affinity.

4. Don’t Outwear Your Welcome

Hell hath no fury like a voter who gets multiple phone calls, mail pieces, and door knocks in the span of, say, 12 hours. And if by some fluke this or something like it happens more than a few times, the next volunteer to reach them will probably never be heard from again, because the lasers shooting out of the voter’s eyes, combined with the unfortunate fact that they’re breathing fire, will incinerate that poor kid before he can even press the doorbell.

It’s bad news. But, hey, mistakes happen during outreach efforts. Likewise, with your social media, posts might get scheduled too closely together, or the same thing might get Tweeted twice. That’s fine – NBD.

Such occurrences are a far cry, though, from clogging up people’s Newsfeeds and Tumblrs with crap every 10 minutes. I mean, this goes back to Emily Post’s thoughts about “sensitive awareness of the feelings of others”: Would you want to have one company you follow pop up like a bad penny every time you log on to Facebook or look at your Twitter timeline?

Use your social media tools wisely: We love CoSchedule, but even they can’t do all of the work for us. Monitor your post frequencies and the corresponding metrics.

Space out your Tweets by at least a half-hour, if possible, and use discretion and good judgement in selecting posting times.

Keep Facebook posts to a couple per day, unless you’re a publisher or have a compelling reason to do more.

For other social media services, give us a call or send us an email, and we can share our advice for your particular situation.

5. Mix Discipline With Experimentation

Stick to a schedule or rotation, but be ready to pivot strategies based on your analytics. Keeping simple rules of social media netiquette in mind, have fun with your posts – in tandem with your business blog, they represent a real chance to humanize your brand and have authentic exchanges with current clients and future ones!

Scrambling for a social strategy? Have some social media netiquette advice to add? Let us know in the comments!

Published On: February 9th, 2015 / Categories: Social Media Marketing Ideas / Tags: /