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Monday, July 30, 2012

Keep it Classy Online: 4 Rules for Professional Social Media Engagement

Everyone that is anyone is on social media these days. Whether you are online for reputation building, networking, sharing or just for fun, there are a few rules to bear in mind. Remember, anything you post online can be seen by everyone. Social media is a fun and powerful medium, but just be mindful of what you share with the world. Follow these rules and you will be just fine:

1. Bear in mind that your boss is online too
Before you post that photo of you and your co-workers having one too many drinks on a work night, think about whether you would be comfortable with your boss seeing that image. You may have your profile locked, but one of your coworkers with access to your profile may chose to capture and share your post with the whole world. It is best practice to assume everything you post online can and will be viewed by your social and professional connections, so think twice before you share that photo of you in fairy wings from last night! And, if you absolutely have to share things of that nature, consider creating a personal account that remains private.

2. Be aware of the purpose of your social platform
Each social network has its own personality and assumed set of rules. LinkedIn is generally a business site for networking and maintaining connections with professional contacts. Facebook is typically used to connect with friends and family, with many personal, more intimate shares. Twitter, on the other hand, is more laid back and accepts shares of all sorts from an opinion on health care policy to links to cuddly cats pawing at a camera. Prior to sharing a post, consider the context of your social network and post accordingly.

3. Customize, customize, customize
This goes hand-in-hand with maintaining an awareness of the purpose of your platform: customize your content for your followership and your platform. Twitter requires brevity with the 140-character limit. Facebook and Google+ capture the title and a summary of the link you are sharing, but it is customary to provide thoughtful commentary or fodder in addition to the URL. In the same vein, while you may chose to share an article about an industry news story on LinkedIn, you may wish to reserve your political or social opinion for Twitter or Facebook (where you are less likely to offend or alienate your professional contacts). And in case it is not blatantly apparent, we can all tell when a post is copied and pasted, so customize it to make it your own. Put in names, a thought or even a 'lol check out this...'

4. Respond and always give thanks where thanks is due
The point of social media is to engage, right? Well, ENGAGE! Respond to comments, comment on posts, ask questions and answer questions. And, just like your mother always said, say thank you. Thank others for their engagement or shares. Without engagement, you are essentially shouting into an empty room, so always thank those that engage with your content.

I hope you find these tips useful in professional endeavors on social media. Just remember to always keep it classy online.

Oh and if you absolutely must share all of your personal, less-than-professional life via social media, be sure to create a separate personal profile that is locked down tighter than a hipster's skinny jeans.

Keep it classy Socializocity readers!

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