The Ultimate Social Media Etiquette Handbook

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Social media mimics real relationships — in many cases. Would you do the following within real face-to-face relationships?

  • Jump on the friendship bandwagon without properly introducing yourself?
  • Consistently talk about yourself and promote only yourself without regard for those around you?
  • Randomly approach a friend you barely talk to and simply ask for favors — repeatedly?
  • Introduce yourself to another person as “Pink House Gardening?”

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may need a refresher course on social media etiquette — and perhaps real-life etiquette also. Here are some egregious sins that you must not perform on social media sites. Avoid these violations and learn how to manage and maintain online relationships on a variety of popular social media sites.


  • Adding users as friends without proper introductions. If you’re looking to make friends, tell people who you are. Don’t assume they know you — especially if they, well, don’t.
  • Abuse application invites and consistently invite friends to participate in vampire games. Many call this spam.
  • Abusing group invites. If your friends are interested, they’ll likely join without your “encouragement.” And if they don’t accept, don’t send the group request more than once by asking them to join via email, wall post, or Facebook message.
  • Turning your Facebook profile photo into a pitch so that you can gather leads through your Facebook connections. Thanks, but no thanks. Facebook is about real friendships and not about business — at least not to me.
  • Using a fake name as your Facebook name. I can’t tell you how many people have added me and their last name is “Com” or “Seo.”? I’m not adding you unless you can be honest about who you are. Once upon a time, Facebook deleted all of the accounts that portrayed people as business entities or things. I wish Facebook would employ the same tactics yet again, because I’m not adding a fake identity as a friend.
  • Publicizing a private conversation on a wall post. In case it isn’t obvious, Facebook wall posts are completely public to all your friends (unless you tweak your privacy settings). Private matters should be handled privately: via email or even in Facebook private messages.
  • Tagging individuals in unflattering pictures that may end up costing your friends their jobs. Avoid the unnecessary commentary also, especially on your childhood pictures that portray your tagged friends as chubby and not so popular. Further, if your friends request to be untagged, don’t make a stink of it.

The image above was taken last night and represents the number of pending requests I have on Facebook. If you’re one of the pending friends, you may have violated one of the above rules. Otherwise, see this post.

That said, there’s one other rule that some individuals follow. I know this isn’t the case for all individuals, so your mileage may vary:

  • Forgetting that some individuals won’t network with you on a “personal” space like Facebook without knowing who you are, even with the proper introduction. If you’re looking to establish a professional relationship with someone, consider LinkedIn. Otherwise, consider building up a rapport with an individual before randomly adding them as your friend. Some people require face-to-face meetings before they invite you into their private lives. After all, Facebook was a tool that college students were using before it was open to the public, and some still use it as a purely personal and not a professional tool. LinkedIn is still seen as the more professional of the two.

Considering the above example, I pose a question on Facebook etiquette: Is it appropriate to let these requests sit in pending mode or to reject the friends outright?? In many instances, these requests are probably better off sitting indefinitely (and it’s healthier than the rejection). Plus, in the future, you may want to end up responding to that friend request positively.


  • Following a user and then unfollowing them before they have a chance to follow back. Or unfollowing them as soon as they follow you.
  • Mass-following everyone so that you can artificially inflate your numbers. Then, you use that number as a success metric for influence. And maybe then you submit a press release about it.
  • Consistently using your Twitter stream for nothing but self-promotion and ego. Profy highlights this phenomenon quite well.
  • Requesting that your friends Retweet your Tweets on a consistent basis. This is much more bothersome when the request comes via IM or email and not on Twitter itself. The bottom line: If your content is good enough to stand on its own, it will be Retweeted. There is no reason to make a personal request. (And if it doesn’t stand on its own, it usually doesn’t need to be retweeted.)
  • Not humanizing your profile. Twitter is also about real relationships. Add an avatar and a bio at the minimum. Let people know who you are. To take it a step further, make it easy for people to contact you outside Twitter if necessary. This is especially important if someone on Twitter needs to reach you but can’t direct message you since you’re not following them!? If they’re making the effort, it’s probably because they really want to talk to you. (Was it something you said? Usually.)
  • Streaming only your blog’s RSS feed on Twitter. (If you’re following anyone like this, feel free to take my advice and unfollow them right now. They won’t engage with you, so why engage with their narcissistic self-promotion?)
  • Using Twitter to repeat personal and confidential correspondence. If you’re not happy with the way an email communication progressed about a private matter, take it up with the person who you were emailing to square things away. Certainly, don’t broadcast your dissatisfaction with the turnout to your entire Twitter audience. It looks unprofessional for you and makes you appear untrustworthy.
  • Leverage your Twitter connections to send spam via direct messages to those who follow you. Two days later, you may wonder why they don’t follow you anymore.
  • Abusing Twitter hashtags during a crisis. It’s a shame that Mumbai happened, but this was not the opportunity to capitalize on your CRM software.
  • Using your Twitter feed as a chat room for conversations that are exclusive in nature and not as a broadcast medium. It’s nice that Twitter empowers you to use the @ symbol to talk directly to individuals, and that’s fine in moderation. As a friend recently said to me, “I’m tired of my Twitter feed being a [private] conversation between person X, person Y, and person Z.” Why don’t the three of you get a room? [Update: Since this particular tidbit had some follow-up discussion, I summarize this point from @cheapsuits: “The tweeps that talk everyday to each other about banalities gets old.”? The emphasis here is on “chat rooms” that exclude other individuals in conversations that do not provide value. At all. Ever. I think we all would agree about that point! I also added some new points in italics to clarify.]


  • Gathering all the email addresses of users you are connected to — even locating email addresses of LinkedIn Group managers — and utilizing this mailing list to promote your own company or service off-site. In a specific case, I manage a few LinkedIn groups so my email address is far more visible on the site than I’d like. I’m not connected to the LinkedIn individual who spammed me, but he still took the liberty to use my email address for his personal gain in a completely unsolicited fashion. Perhaps this individual lost sight that LinkedIn is a professional network and not a spam facilitator. Even so, recipients should still be required to opt in.
  • Asking for endorsements from individuals you don’t know or that didn’t do a good job in your employ.
  • Writing a recommendation for someone and then firing them just a few days later.

Social News (Digg, Sphinn, Mixx, Reddit, Tip’d, and a whole load of related sites)

  • Submitting only your own articles and posts to social media sites.
  • Consistently “taking” (asking for votes) but never giving back. Social news is about reciprocal relationships. Even if the people you are asking votes of will never actually ask you for votes, a random IM that pops up that says “Digg this for me” is far more obtrusive than saying “hey, how’s it going?” and having a real conversation first.
  • Shouting the same story repeatedly to your friends. Can we say spam? (And if you are still being shouted at repeatedly, why haven’t you unfriended the offenders?)
  • Submitting a story to a social news site that is completely off-topic. It’s important to understand the communities you contribute to and to understand the rules of the sites that you target. Your story about celebrity cell phones simply does not belong on financial social news site Tipd, no matter how you try to spin it. And when I, as a moderator, tell you that that the submission is not appropriate for the audience especially as it has no relevancy to the subject matter of the site, don’t argue with the decision.
  • Using the comments field to drop links, especially to related submissions that were made after the fact.
  • On social sites where buries are public (though professional in nature), assume that it’s personal. In a recent instance, a “bury” on a popular social site upset the submitter so much that he resorted to an unprofessional attack on the person who buried the story by blogging about her. Sadly enough, the bury reason (which was public for all to see) was not at all about the writer of the post but was about the content itself. In social media and in relationships in general, you should be disagreeing with the statement. That means that you shouldn’t be assuming they’re talking about you as the person who made the statement and that the statement is a reflection of a character flaw. They didn’t like what you said and disagreed. Grow from it. Don’t turn it into something personal when it clearly isn’t.


  • Using the service completely for self-promotion. If you’re going to claim your social media profile on that totally awesome service, either don’t share your feeds at all or interact on a semi-consistent basis. Please? FriendFeed is a service but it’s also a community.
  • Cross-post on all social sites using a site like I don’t need to see the same message from you on Twitter, FriendFeed, your Google Talk status, your Facebook feed, and on your dog’s scrolling LED collar. Keep the spam broadcasts to a minimum. It’s obvious on FriendFeed when this facility is abused.


  • Asking someone repeatedly to watch your crummy video, subscribe to your channel, and give you a 5-star rating.
  • Force people to subscribe to your YouTube channel by applying an iFrame exploit.


  • Sending more than one story to your network daily. The key to success is moderation. Excess converts to spam.
  • Submitting and reviewing only your own articles. Do you self-promote this often in real life?
  • Submitting a story from another social news site to StumbleUpon for more visibility and eyeballs. Once upon a time, I stumbled upon a Digg submission of a Sphinn submission of a blog post. Seriously? Why don’t you just submit the blog post directly instead of using the other sites as conduits? (This infraction goes for all social sites that accept submissions, and not just StumbleUpon.)

Blogging and Commenting

  • Commenting on other articles and using the name “Yellow Brick Plumbing.” Isn’t your name actually Alan? There’s no SEO value to these comments (they’re nofollowed by default), and all this approach does is makes you lose credibility in the eyes of the blogger. This isn’t the way to network!
  • Using content from another blog without attribution. Sometimes a specific blog will get an exclusive. Then, another blog will write on the story using the original blog post as its “source” without attribution. Even popular blogs will rip off stories from lesser known blogs in their space. Don’t let greed get in the way of your own blogging habits and make sure to link out where appropriate.
  • Sending a pitch to a blogger requesting a link exchange even though your site has no relevancy at all to their content. I write about social media, people, not about beer bongs. And well, they say that social media is the new link exchange, so instead of asking for an old-fashioned link (which might have worked in 2002), consider using a more viable strategy for this modern time period.
  • Turning a blog into a flame war against someone you don’t like. Scott Hendison recounts how forum spam not only turned into a bitter heated battle that may end up going to the courts but how the individual responsible for the abuse is not slowing down. If you’re wrong, acknowledge the wrongdoing and don’t use other blogs to tarnish someone else’s image.

Other Social Sites

  • Join a new social network and then invite everyone you’ve ever emailed in your lifetime to the service by submitting your entire Gmail address book when the service requests it. Reading the fine print is a wonderful — and you should never volunteer your email account’s password to the social site anyway. (It’s also helpful to keep in mind that your email account password should not be the same as your social profiles, and that’s not a question of etiquette — it’s common sense!)

Finally, a word on social media etiquette in general:

You’re leaving your digital signature on the Internet right now. Think about the consequences of your engagement on any social site. Racial slurs, criticisms without warrant, and blatant abuse don’t work in real life, and they really have no place in the social media channels simply because you are far more anonymous on these sites. If you were living in New York and you walked up to a stranger with the same foul-mouthed comments that are rampant on many social media sites, you may never make it home. Consider how your comments would be perceived before you actually post them, and think about logic above emotion at all times. Above all, think about maintaining a certain level of professionalism, since people can use whatever you make “permanent” on these sites against you. Not all blogs will remove a comment after you’ve requested that they do so simply because you were angry when you wrote the comment. Before you hit “post,” realize that this will be a permanent reflection of your identity and that it may never be erased. It may even be used against you.


Remember that social media communities are real relationships, real conversations, and as such, they should be treated like they are real. It’s not about a me, myself, and I mentality. It’s about the collective, the community, and the common good.

Do you find that there are other social media violations that are committed on any of the above social sites — or perhaps on sites that I haven’t yet shared?? If so, please share these infractions in the comments.

(Thanks to Twitter users trontastic, jillwhalen, BrettFromTibet, digiphile, ezrabutler, hakerem, debramastaler, aviw, seofactor, danielthepoet, Stuartcfoster, RuudHein, papei, lunaroja, gingie822, rafaelmarquez, susqhb, chrisgarrett, brokerkathy, DavidWallace, rogerdooley, WayneLiew, JasonPeck, and BarbaraKB their insights!)

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346 replies on “The Ultimate Social Media Etiquette Handbook”
  1. Great post! Just one thing, I guess – something I have experienced recently – leaving a comment under your post with seemingly genuine interest in one’s site/post itself, but actually referring to your own post/blog or even pasting url in. It’s OK rarely, if you actually have relevant content on your blog, but not so, if you simply want to promote your business.

  2. Sylwia, yeah, I’m noticing that happen on some social sites too. I have no problem with people engaging in the discussion as long as they are contributing a relevant post to the discussion. If they are just pimping their own content, well, no, that’s not okay.

    1. says: dean

      people are FREE to say what they want here in the USA… if someone can’t handle that … too BAD!!! Get over it and grow up! There will always be a thing between BLACK & WHITE, yellow and brown and so on. There will NEVER be peace in this world, NEVER! Get use to it!~!!!

      1. LOL Dean, I published this for the comedy you just provided us here. Normally, this would be considered as spam, totally irrelevant, and clearly off topic, but it’s holiday time, so thanks for giving us a real laugh at your expense. Happy New Year. 😉

  3. says: FFB

    Nice article! I think there are many out there that don’t realize the human element of social media and think it’s just a tool for marketing oneself. It’s good to see some solid advice (I’ve been guilty at times of some of these).

  4. It’s not O.K. Actually, it’s disturbing, since I feel bad about deleting comments – and having to be double-careful with those that do not land in spam folder. Oh, well…

  5. says: Adam

    This list is perfect for a new generation moving into social media. A 40 y/o relative just joined and in a matter of a week managed to catch a spam msg virus & get upset by comments on tagged high school pictures. I’m looking forward to more points added to the handbook as new users invent the next pointless super poke.

  6. Quite a comprehensive article.

    The blog comments represent an area I always pay attention. I don’t get when people sign comments for example, since they comment itself already comes with the name and link above it.

  7. says: BarbaraKB

    I am guilty of almost *all* of the above sins esp. on Twitter. But, as a Catholic, I know I will find absolution. Why? Ultimately, social sites are about human beings and human connection. People are people, they do *sin*, but, I believe, all can be forgiven. Thus, I constantly forgive my real friends. And my real friends forgive me. Perhaps that why I love social sites so!? Peace, Tamar! 😉

  8. says: Tibi Puiu

    Excellent, comprehensive stuff, Tamar. I think the real issue here is the lack of so called ‘web common sense.’ People still perceive the social web (facebook, myspace, youtube etc.) as a totally different environment. But it’s far from that, especially when conversations and relationships are concerned. If people would simply apply common sense practices, both real life and on the web, the world would be such a better place :D.

  9. …and that is why I always advocate having a clear and solid barrier between your online social activities and the professional ones (Facebook vs. LinkedIn for example) and whenever possible, not adding your professional contacts as social contacts, this might backfire badly (as in your examples).

    Matter of fact is that the majority of social network users aren’t really aware of the risks that come with their every action. Yet they should be educated regarding this since, using the words of a wise man, in the future everyone will be anonymous for about 15 minutes.

  10. says: Matt

    Great post, Tamar. I’m right with you on the @replies in twitter. They are constantly abused. Another thing that bothers me is when people post 10 – 15 tweets in a row. It just seems counter intuitive to the whole point of twitter, and of course most of the tweets are @replies.

  11. says: Ezra Butler

    @Tamar (and @Matt by extension)

    I love the post, but I must disagree on the syntax that you used for the last twitter infraction.

    I don’t understand what you mean by designating twitter as a ‘broadcast medium’ as opposed to a ‘chat room’.
    Personally, I don’t like it when people are veritable RSS feeds, and simply pump out information (however useful or helpful) without interacting with their audience.
    On the flip side, I also see the problem with people having long conversations that should be help over some sort of chat.

    There is a healthy middle though. If you are going to have a long (read: 3 or 4 back and forths) with someone (either on twitter or facebook for that matter) either educate or entertain everyone else. Let people have an in to come into the conversation.

    It’s about the common-sense of knowing which conversations belong on public space and which ones belong in private space.

  12. “I also see the problem with people having long conversations that should be help over some sort of chat.”

    That is *exactly* the “infraction” I refer to. It’s excessive “chat room abuse” that ticks me off — not the moderate use of it. Using the quote I added to that “sin,” I thought the violation was clear. Sorry if it wasn’t.

    Not many people know that I DM just about everyone who uses @tamar in the public stream. With the types of followers I seem to attract (one of my first followers was a porn star who won me over because she was really social-media-engaged), I always feel I ostracize people by making some of my tweets public and using @name for a response. If you say something, I’ll typically respond via DM. I just don’t want to clutter my feed with @name1 @name2 @name44 Tweets.

    But hey, that’s just me, and I don’t consider it abusive or sinful if you do exactly what you do, Ezra. There are some people who take Twitter and in my opinion use it to show off that they have an inner clique of friends who they will invite into their lives and not consider anyone else. That’s the problem I believe many have:

    “Im tired of my Twitter feed being a conversation between person X, person Y, and person Z.”

  13. says: Denise

    As someone who is new to the whole social media thing,I will bookmark this and try not to do any of the bad things.
    Frankly, I’ve been considering getting out of twitter, frienfeed etc. because I always feel as if I walked into the middle of a conversation that doesn’t concern me, or a geek trying to sit at the jocks table in the cafeteria.
    I find some great articles etc via Twitter but most days it’s just snippets of conversations that are obviously happening somewhere else and I just don’t get it.

    I told my son that I am a social media idiot, but heck maybe I’m not, maybe it really is a conversational traffic jam.

  14. Hi Denise! Welcome aboard 🙂

    I don’t think it’s too late to start in social media, though when you get started, it can be overwhelming. I remember starting off on some very popular social sites as a newbie and having no clue. Eventually, the confusion all settles.

    Don’t be afraid to engage!

  15. says: Mark Dykeman

    Like I’ve been saying elsewhere, this guide should be required reading for anyone who’s starting in social media. However, I’ll add that EVERYONE should at least review this post at least once to make sure that they aren’t inadvertently making mistakes.

    In other words, you rock.

  16. says: Susan RoAne

    GREAT article that should be bookmarked by every social media participant as a reminder! Tamar’s tips for the appropriate behavior are spot-on. As the author of both Face to Face: How To Reclaim the Personal Touch in a Digital World and How To Work a Room, I’ve stressed that what we do both online and off-line (face to face) contributes to our reputations. Polishing a tarnished reputation is often an exercise in futility.
    We need to be savvy, smart and thoughtful in our digital and analog lives. Tamar’s tips provides a superb guideline.

  17. says: Susanne

    Great post! Especially agreed with “Streaming only your blogs RSS feed on Twitter.” I recently encouraged a friend to stop doing that. Twitter is about listening to others, not just posting your own stuff. Not very engaging at all!

  18. says: Michael D

    Awesome writing talent Tamar. This post is being bookmarked for sure. Was just trying to explain twitter to someone this morning and now I can send them here.

  19. says: haroldcampbell

    Tamar I think you left out email.

    The title of the article is “The Ultimate Social Media Etiquette Handbook”…with that said, wouldn’t it mean that email should also be included. Email, is still used as a socail media/networking tool.

    Notwithstanding, you did an excellent job describing the other tools.

  20. Thanks Todd!

    Yeah, I am taking a lot of hard hits lately for not posting very often. The problem is that I aim for quality over quantity, and if you want to factor quantity into the equation, well, it takes at least 10-15 hours to write a single post. 🙂

  21. Hi Tamar,

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post and the comments it has attracted so far. I will find this post really handy as a reference tool for clients new to social media.

    Now I’m going to go back and read your earlier stuff.

    Well done.



  22. This is a great article..! So great I was planning on writing it myself, but I thank you for doing it so well and saving me the trouble. 😉

    I try to be nice online but sometimes we all feel squeezed to “get stuff done” under pressure… The key is finding the delicate balance between self-promotion, supporting your friends and getting actual work done. Easier said than done!

  23. Thanks for a great article, Tamar… I found your tweets and this article thanks to another pointing it out on twitter.

    This is a fantastic overview and reference that I’m going to make sure that my clients who participate in social media see , read and bookmark! I found myself nodding my head as I read nearly every point you made.

    I know that many folks use facebook for professional uses, I am not one of them, as I’m just a bit too private for that. I pretty much use it for personal use, and will only ‘friend’ folks that I haven’t met if I know them *well* thru another online context, like an email list. I am curious though, as to how folks who do use their FB professionally, manage the personal vs professional there.

    Thanks for a wonderfully detailed article!

  24. Sadelle, good question. I don’t think anyone has really mastered it, but I know there are some people who will utilize privacy settings (block wall posts, photos, and the like) on some individuals.

    Of course, when you have 1385 friends and 314 pending friend requests, this task becomes a lot more cumbersome!!!

    There’s absolutely nobody on my Facebook network who is imposed by any of my privacy settings. I prefer to be completely open or not at all. With the incoming friend requests I’ve been getting lately, though, it gets harder! I feel like I want to say yes to these random nice people who have approached me, but I just don’t know who they are!

    As I said earlier in this article (but should have referred in more detail due the subsequent Facebook friend request), I’ve already written a post on how I network on different social sites. There are VERY few people I befriend on Facebook just through blogging — unless I meet them face to face first. I’d feel more comfortable creating a second Facebook account for that kind of thing. Meanwhile, though, they’re just sitting in my pending friend requests queue. And one day, maybe I’ll just approve that pending request.

  25. says: hidama

    Thank you for the breadth of your definition of social media; this really did cover all forms of contact. I agree wholeheartedly with the Facebook and blog etiquette, and I think we might be able to add a few more to the Twitter:

    – Don’t update with a tweet welcoming all the new people following you. Personally thank them with DMs.

    – Please do not put anything in all caps unless it’s to say “SOMEONE HELP ME, MY SHIFT KEY IS BROKEN/”

    – Unless I feel like I have a connection with you, I will immediately unfollow you if you celebrate follower counts and ask people for more followers.

    -Don’t tell me that I have to follow you back.

    Thanks again for the article!

  26. says: Ron Hekier

    Fantastic resource. We should all take to heart the conclusion of the handbook. Social media is about being social. Don’t do in the virtual world what you would not do in the real world.
    Also Tamar, I like your philosophy from the commnets above how you “prefer to be completely open or not at all.”
    Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us! Quite social of you 😉

  27. “Also Tamar, I like your philosophy from the commnets above how you ‘prefer to be completely open or not at all.'”

    One day, that is definitely going to haunt me. 🙂

  28. says: Jodith

    Great article! Thanks so much. This is definitely getting a tweet out and a stumble.

    I’d add another twitter no-no. When I follow you, don’t DM me with a welcome note that is actually just a request to visit your blog or website.

    Also, if you are going to @reply to everyone that follows you, I’m probably going to unfollow you, because I really don’t care who all is following you. I’m currently actively following over 200 folks. I don’t have time to wade through your spam.

    And if I’m not following you, but you’re following me, I don’t need to know about it. I check my followers page at least once a day and often 2 or 3 times. I always check out the folks who follow me and if I like your tweets, or even think I might like your tweets, I’ll follow you back, at least for a few days so I can see if I really want to follow you.

  29. Hey Jodith, thanks for the tips. You bring up an interesting last point. As I mentioned further up, I’ll DM anyone who uses @tamar in their stream (if I have something to respond, so it’s about 95% of the time). A lot of times, they’d like to respond, but since I’m not following them, they can’t. However, they used to be able to (for only awhile — which was perfect for my needs)

    I actually took this up with Twitter and asked founder Evan Williams to look into this because, as I mentioned, that functionality existed within Twitter this past summer. If I’m not following someone regularly but have taken the initiative to DM them, it’s probably because I want to keep the subsequent ongoing conversation off-site. But right now, that conversation just can’t happen since I can DM them but they can’t DM back.

    I think Twitter knows that people want this functionality and Evan said that it should work that way. I’m just waiting for when it will work like that again, because I may want to have a conversation with someone who follows me for a bit, but if I follow EVERYONE who follows me, it gets WAY too noisy. And information overload is just way too hard to manage nowadays. (Plus, my phone can’t handle too many incessant DMs so I keep them at a minimum.)

    But yes, when they tell me “I can’t respond to you because you’re not following me,” I feel awful about it. I shouldn’t have to opt in to follow them just for that short period of time — it seems illogical (and in many ways, offensive, like when I choose to unfollow them again).

    So there. I turned your sin into a Twitter functionality gripe. 😉 Thanks for playing! 😀

  30. says: Rudy

    Using Twitter to repeat personal and confidential correspondence. If youre not happy with the way an email communication progressed about a private matter, take it up with the person who you were emailing to square things away.

    I sometimes use Twitter as a “venting” outlet because my friends (or followers) may empathize and provide a solution to the problem. I understand there needs to be some confidentiality, like not specifying names. But for a general gripe on a situation, Twitter might prove to be therapeutic.

  31. says: Jodith

    I have to say that I like the @replies on Twitter if it’s not an ongoing back and forth. I’ll often click through to the other persons account to see the other side of the conversation and have found some great people to follow that way.

    However, when it’s an ongoing conversation, you’re absolutely right. Take it someplace else. There was someone on lastnight who had an hour long conversation with someone on twitter. Needless to say, I’m not following her any longer.

  32. Rudy, oh sure. But when the issue is personal and more importantly, confidential, it doesn’t belong on your stream any way you plan to twist it. I have no problem if it’s a general gripe, but when details of the individual/company/private correspondence emerge, it’s completely unprofessional and inappropriate.

  33. says: Brenda Stone

    This was a great “find” on Twitter. There is so much clatter and noise on that site that I often think I should close it down completely. Then I find a little nugget that makes it worth while. I will pass this on! And thank you for taking the time to articulate this.

    Pretty much, it all boils down to common sense and common courtesy, but with all things new, there is a time period of shifting and settling into it. It’s great to have some direction.

  34. Great summary! I am encouraging my clients and contacts to join the social media explosion. I will certainly promote this link for them to read before they do something they may regret later. Nice job!

  35. James, you’re TOTALLY not the only one. But I also figured it was as good a time as any to remind everyone that their social media account passwords should NEVER be the same as their email account passwords. It’s FAR too dangerous.

  36. says: Sopan Greene

    What a thorough and great article! I’ve tweeted it and mentioned it on Facebook.

    One addition for Twitter: Don’t be a lame-ass and send a thank you for following me note with a “gift” of a free eBook promoting yourself. It reeks like two week old fish.

    Communication is about providing valuable content and entertainment. Be human before being salesy.

    Thanks to @problogger for tweeting that he was reading this article. I’m glad I got turned on to you and look forward to your future tweets and posts.

    All the best,

  37. An ex-employer of mine (after I left) encouraged their employees to send out facebook based advertising to connections. I spat the dummy and removed them ALL from my friend list (after 8 years there I had a lot of buddies/connections).

    I complained to the company, but received no reply. Guess who’s bottom of my vendor list?

  38. and another thing….

    I really get annoyed by Internet ‘couples’ who send each other romantic missives on PUBLIC websites.

    Yewww… (and some of these people are not even young)

  39. and yet something else….

    Don’t post messages to social networking groups/lists/forums requesting that people link with you. It wastes my valuable time and makes you look like a sad loser.

    Grow your group by linking one-to-one. e.g. If you see a well written post on LinkedIn in a topic that is of interest to you — then contact that person and say that you a) enjoyed their writing and b) want to connect because you have something in common (and say what that is).

    I am dismayed by the number of people who obsess about the number of network connections rather than their relevance and quality. Is it some sort of compensation mechanism?

    Sorry — I probably should have written a blog post, but this just grew… 🙂

  40. Seriously, Alec. One of my high school friends joined a bunch of groups I had just joined and mass-spammed the groups’ walls with “HIRE ME FOR MY WEB DEVELOPMENT SERVICE.”

    I had no heart to tell him he totally screwed that up. 🙂

  41. says: Dana Coffey

    I loved this post – especially this one:

    Publicizing a private conversation on a wall post. In case it isnt obvious, Facebook wall posts are completely public to all your friends (unless you tweak your privacy settings). Private matters should be handled privately: via email or even in Facebook private messages.

    I wrote a similar article over on my blog called How to Talk to Geek Girls Online that deals with a lot of what you wrote, but you were much more thorough. Loved it!

  42. I am going to send this link to every client and friend I have. This is FANTASTIC and very timely…. I was just starting to lose it over a few of these issues. SO good to know I am not alone in my frustration!

  43. Phao, Digg is a “social news” site, and there’s a section in the article to address this. That said, shouting (which I addressed) is specific to Digg, but the rest of the content in the article’s “social news” category is related to Digg, Tipd, Mixx, Reddit, and all other social news sites.

    StumbleUpon doesn’t fit under “social news” and thus is treated in a class of its own.

    Hope that clarifies!

  44. says: Jay Gilmore

    Tamar, I’ve seen and committed a few faux pas but there are some that are so egregious that I shudder and wince.

    On Facebook

    I had a former co-worker friend me on Facebook and then friend all the single women on my FB friends list and make inappropriate comments and friend attempts.

    Another person who volunteered at a client’s organization friended me and subsequently filled my feed with images of him drunk, half dressed and involved in acts that should never hit the CCD of a digital camera.

    I personally think that you should use Facebook either as an open book or as a closed club but not halfway in between. If you want to share your exploits with a cadre of your closes friends and have your privacy settings adjusted accordingly, go for it. I think as you grow older (as someone approaching 40 might attest to) and your want for connections of a more grown-up nature increases that using Facebook openly, making real friends and connections as you would do in the real world can work well but requires discipline. You need to not friend every person you went to school with. You aren’t friends with them and they are not all nice, mature or have clean criminal backgrounds. Your friends reflect upon you in real life and so too in the online world. Be choosey but not falsely elitist.

    On Twitter I still give noobs some latitude here but some major knobs still know how to bork their chances of making the most of it.

    –Don’t auto DM me with a link (of any kind.). I do auto DM but I mean what I say and try to contact every new follower with a real message to make introduction.
    –Not every tweet should contain a link. (you look like a spammer)
    –Unless your company account is for customer/client support and handled by multiple people, use your real name or some variant for your account name. There are a few exceptions where you’re public persona is well known as the alias or for reasons of safety.

    I disagree with @Tamar on the use of DMs to reply as a rule as I view that as a personal message channel akin to whispering in someone’s ear at a party to share something not for public consumption. Her reasons seem valid as I certainly never get as many @s as she ever will. In addition, DMs require mutual follows and so often people can’t respond back to non-reciprocal followers.

    I think the tone if Twitter is for some small amount of self-promotion be allowed but the measure is that if you feel that it will truly be of value to two or more followers and not just value to you or your financial or egotistical interests.

    Share something dammit.

    You’re using it wrong if you think it is the same as Facebook Statuses (this is why pownce died in my opinion) no one really cares what you ate unless it was awesome, with a celebrity or you want to invite others. Yes, the Twitter website says “What are you doing?” I don’t care, usually. It has morphed into a way to share ideas, links, and make real connections.

    Don’t protect your updates! If you are worried about spammers get off the internet. It looks rude, you will not get the same benefits of being open and it is akin to walking around with a cone-of-silence over you. You just want to use Twitter to talk to your close friends and family—use Facebook. My analogy for twitter is the people you can meet walking around at a conference intermission. The brief introductions, “Hi, howareya’s” and “I think you’d really find this helpful” type of stuff. @Tamar is 100% right (exceptions noted) that if it’s going to turn into a long convo it should be IM, Email or the phone.

  45. says: Rick Sauter

    Tamar — Really good article and lots to think about. I know I’ve been guilty of a few of these and need to review and remember some of these tips for the future. A lot of mistakes are from being a newbie on certain sites and not being completely familiar with the etiquette, but hopefully I learned from my mistakes and don’t repeat them.

  46. says: Keith Ritter

    Great piece. Are you going to do another one on good business behavior using social tools? I’ve worked with a number of clients on this but I’d love to hear your point of view.

  47. says: Sopan Greene

    So Tamar, from all these great comments I hope you realize it’s due time to write a hilarious short book about true stories of idiotic ways people have used social media. It could be as funny and helpful as a book on “First Dates Gone Bad.”

  48. says: gvac

    There are no rules, and definitely no etiquette for social media. That’s the great thing about it. This article is great for all those who want to be done their way, but there is no “right way.” And thank god for that.

  49. I especially agree about the thing against posting comments on blogs as a website or company, or posting barely-relevant comments just so you can link to your own sites. I’ve even seen users do both of these; it’s so annoying!

  50. says: Rob J

    Great article, which seems to pull in a lot of personal experience (and frustration?). Thanks a lot.

    I’m the social media man in the street where I work, trying to get some of these ideas across to my colleagues. But, at the same time, I’m kind of on the Path to Enlightenment myself when it comes to striking a balance between confidence, humility, and openess in a social space. To me, that’s the goal to building relationships in any context.

    Cheers again for the article!

  51. says: djpinklady

    oh i disagree with so much of this article. its basically rubish soley based on tamars approach. however, her approach may not work for everyone. social media is used for all sorts of things, mostly including self promotion. otherwise, what are you doing it for?

  52. “its basically rubish soley based on tamars approach.”

    You really think so? Did you notice how many people I thanked via Twitter for their feedback (most of which echoed my sentiments exactly)? Did you notice the agreement in the comments? And did you see the EXCELLENT additions posed by some really brilliant commenters?

    I repeat the question I pose in the beginning of the article, djpinklady: do you self-promote this often in real life? Would you? Or are you doing it online because the rules seem to be different?

    Remember, we’re still real people. You may not see my face through your monitor, but the rules aren’t that different. And I’d even contend that you would have more friends online if you didn’t think this was my own approach — especially if you followed most of these rules more often. They’re not only mine, I assure you. I think the rest of the article and the feedback within speaks for itself.

  53. says: Jay Gilmore

    @Rob J your commment

    Im kind of on the Path to Enlightenment myself when it comes to striking a balance between confidence, humility, and openess in a social space. To me, thats the goal to building relationships in any context.

    Is as true as it comes. Social Media is not a means to an end but a tool for exchange. It is the same in person as it is online. Honesty, humility, earnestness, genuine interest and a want to help will take us where, self-interest, narcism, hucksterism, hubris or outright bull$hit will not.

    To emphasize your point and @Tamar’s retort to @djpinklady that with no expectations of remuneration and my genuine nature to help folks out I’ve gained clients without asking or begging or marketing. Just sharing, offering what expertise I hold and connecting people with answers or solutions I’ve won. I’ve made acquaintances and a couple clients in the short time I’ve been actively engaged.

    One final note. I think @Tamar’s article is a reflection of the accepted code of conduct that stems from the users and is not arbitrary or entirely self-derived. The community creates the standard and some will attempt to subvert the standard and while I’m all for making noise and breaking the status quo, self-promotion and ignorant abuse of that standard will either backfire or kill the community.

  54. says: Julia

    Excellent article, Tamar. I will be recommending all my computer science students read it — many of them know what the media are and the mechanics of using them, but not the POLITE way to use them!

  55. Excellent. It’s refreshing to read a post that hasn’t been hashed out in 15 minutes at the local free wi-fi cafe. I wish more people would follow these rules. Thanks!

  56. says: Maya

    Hi Tamar,

    I use @ when
    1.I want to say something to a specific person that is not following me or
    2. when I think the content in there is useful for other people as well -such as a link

    Do you see that as wrong? Curious what your thoughts are ….

    Thank you for this awesome blog post, btw!

  57. says: faryl

    Since there are some other lengthy comments before mine, hopefully this is a too long-winded one to add to the mix . . .

    While I agree (although also probably have broken) with pretty much all of the rules you mentioned (and many left in the comments), I think we forget that not everyone wants to use these communities the same way you/we do. One thing I think those of us in the social media/web 2.0 bubble/blog-o-sphere forget is that the different sites/communities are used multiple ways for multiple types of users.

    Using Twitter as an example: To be fair, it was started as a way to answer a simple question: what are you doing? It’s what it says right about where you enter your tweet. Given that, why would it be considered inappropriate to enter “facebook status” type details there?

    Personally, it’s not how I use it, and probably might not follow someone who does. But ultimately then I have the choice whether or not to follow that person; just as those who care what someone is eating can choose TO follow them.

    Maybe it boils down to who you *care* about connecting to in the online communities and matching your style/etiquette to be reflective of that?

    GREAT article, Tamar! Since I saw your tweet, I’ve been looking forward for this list 🙂

  58. “Given that, why would it be considered inappropriate to enter facebook status type details there?”

    Hey Faryl, thanks for commenting. 🙂 I hope I didn’t suggest that — Twitter can be used for personal and professional purposes and I see nothing wrong with that. Back in March 2007, I highlighted two different kind of Twitter users who still exist to this day. Twitter originally existed for those basic “I just got out of the bathroom” type Tweets, and I’m not going to argue with it. 😉 Personally, I’ve made a few of them myself (not about bathrooms though!) and don’t frown upon it.

  59. says: faryl

    Thanks for the response!

    Sorry! You didn’t imply that- my comment was more in response to the general conversation occurring in the comments here. @Jay Gilmore added a number of valid points and had included the facebook analogy along with them. (I think in an effort to “pare down” my lengthy-er comment, it may have lost some context.)

    Maybe this is another rule to add to your list (and the list of one’s I’ve broken! 🙁 ): When commenting on blogs, be more clear about what you are commenting on – especially when it’s something written in the comments!

  60. says: Jay Gilmore


    Just to be clear I’m not saying that you should never post Facebook status-like info on your twitter feed if you feel it is something so share.

    I’d also like to revisit the @ issue too. For me I often may start a dialogue that may commence with a person over 2 or 3 tweets and sometimes it swirls into a group and migrating a group to IM from strangers is not possible. Using @s to do it in an open discussion where others might join in is, to me fine.

    That being said, I do see people using it like IM and responding contextless to interpersonal nonesuch like like inside jokes and backroom chatter. @s are not for that in my opinion.

    If a thread starts that others may find value or have opinions on then go for it. I think that is the win of Twitter. Like so many great conversations you have mingling at a conference with strangers anyone can chime in but we’re not intimate enough to IM.

  61. says: RCE

    Fantastic article. I am just now bringing myself up to speed in the world of “social media” networking and you have written words of wisdom here to be sure.

  62. says: Lizz Harmon

    Excellent. You’re preaching all the things I try to teach others. So well said, and very much appreciated. I’m sharing this with everyone I can think of. Thanks so much, Tamar.

  63. says: Jerry G

    I’m no social networking maven, but I do try to hold to some standards that are very close to those discussed in the article. When using @replies on Twitter, I imagine myself at a party stuffed into a single big room with all of my followers. If my thought isn’t worth saying out loud in that room, it’s not worth replying publicly. Some thoughts, though directed at only one or two people, are potentially interesting to others; others really do belong as DMs or IMs.

  64. says: kevrichard

    Thanks for the tips! I’m just starting to build my “digital persona” and I will definitely keep this in mind so I’m not viewed as a self promoting ass hat.

  65. says: Qlubb-Andy

    Great stuff. It’s funny how these rules tend to gel over time and settle in through trial and error. Thanks for summarizing it all nicely into one place. Perhaps you are Ms. Manners 2.0?

  66. says: Joe Bachana

    Brilliant and concise read, Tamar. Thank you.

    What amazes me is that if we’re at the dawn of online social media, then theoretically billions of people can join in on the ‘conversation’. Consider that since you posted this blog entry up until when I just read it at 9:30pm EST 12/10/8 you already have over a 100 mostly interesting posts. Presumably this commenting in itself has spawned a ‘conversation’ that will go on for as long as this page is up (and beyond, since a number of S|M sites have referenced this post.

    You should consider writing a book(let) on social media manners — or perhaps invite a 100 writers/bloggers that you respect to write a chapter each, then make the book available on common grounds (or charge for it and have the proceeds benefit some good cause). I’ll be happy to write something from my own viewpoint.

  67. says: Bob

    Nice article.

    Another don’t on LinkedIn:
    Don’t let recruiters talk you into connecting with them. They already have YOUR contact details. They are almost sure to spam your connections, thus making YOU unpopular.

  68. says: Patty

    Nice post on using etiquette in social media. Since this is a fairly new medium for many this article will help a lot of people find the best ways to use social media without imposing on others. I am known to retweet others posts or links that I find useful or valuable to my followers, it is my way of giving back to those who follow me as well. I also consider it a way to give link love via twitter. I think twitters should reciprocate when they follow you and should help others out as well by retweeting friends tweets. I feel this is good etiquette and helps you not only share informative tweets but helps those who follow you.

  69. Thank you SO much for this article! Social etiquette 101 is exactly the kind of information I need to understand the plethora of media, how they fit into the landscape and how best to interact through them. You’re a star.

  70. says: Nicola

    Hi, this is brilliant, I agree with everything you have written and the discussion is really interesting too.

    I’m not writing on my blog at the moment but I used to moderate my blog comments and if they did not look like they are spam but are advertising something with / without URL, as long as they have provided a valid email address, I have contacted them personally – generally along the lines of – my site primarily does not have a commercial focus right now so if I don’t consider the commercial advert to be relevant, thanks but no thanks and this is why etc.

    Still feel the same way about sales telephone calls – I will try and arrange time to listen where possible and relevant – guess its kind of the same thing.

    However my blog is somewhat smallish so I could find the time, if I received lots of comments containing advertising then it might not be possible to respond individually I guess.

  71. says: veronicaromm

    This clearly took a lot of work and I am very impressed. You are one of the first people I met via SU when I started using social media about a year ago. In that time I have had many experiences with people that have been terrific, and others have been nightmares.

    As much as we would like to think that Social Media is like interacting in real life, it seems to me that that is a very lofty goal. People really behave very differently on sites on the web than in their lives and usually that behavior is childish and innappropriate. The anonymity of the web just makes it too easy for people to get away with a great deal of BS.

    I have seen these rules broken by so many (myself included) and even some that have commented or been sited in this post. There is a level of hypocracy on the web with people saying negative things about SEO sites and writers, while using the tips they learn from you guys.

    What struck me most is that this piece although covering many social networks, focuses on Twitter, and that is usually the case. My hypothesis as to why this is the case is quite simple: Twitter sucks. I never understood the appeal and one year later, it still the most complained about and most discussed site. I have witnessed friends fight about tweets, resulting in irreparrable damage to friendships and business relations. To me there is no right way to use twitter, it just always seems to be the wrong platform for anything other than what one ate that day and who did what when.

    I have a love hate relationship with social media, clearly. To conclude I think you really did a great job but i fear that your message will fall on deaf ears and people will continue to break “rules” here and in the real world. We were not all taught manners unfortunately and the web is a great example of this sad fact.


  72. says: S. Keeling

    Harold, it was intentional. When I think of social media etiquette, I think about web 2.0 technologies. I just dont see email in that category.

    I wonder why. Is this just typical twenty-something bigotry re: email, or do you have a good reason why email is irrelevant in the “social media” space?

    Certainly, many of the younger generation(s) consider email “uncool”, but I suspect that’s because they can’t figure out how to avoid spam. For those of us who can, numerous communities thrive out there via mailinglists, Usenet, etc.

  73. S. Keeling: I think the word “bigotry” when describing my choice of not including email in this article is a bit harsh. To rehash the previous point, getting 5324324 chain letters a day is still rampant, for sure, but not in the spaces I’m occupied in — and I honestly think that this is a more “advanced” piece for those who are a tad more intermediate in their Internet usage behavior. Email is “social,” sure, but is it “social media?” I’d argue that the answer is no.

    Email existed before “social media” became accepted as a common term, and I still firmly agree that email doesn’t fit in the category of “user generated content” in the way that the aforementioned sites (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, StumbleUpon, YouTube, Digg, etc.) do. This article was intended for these newer technologies.

  74. says: JustinSMV

    Hey Tamar this just made my Holy Crap This is Good list 🙂 You know most of these tips on here are soooooooo common sense but your right a lot of people still abuse and become social media jerks. Great list. Dugged!

  75. says: seosoeasy

    Amazing article.Nowadays i am interested to enter into the world of ‘social media’ network and by reading this posts think so, its more now.This is the good article to be shared among all the peoples and definitely i will share this with my friends which will help them a lot.Thanks for your good article.

  76. Hi Tamar,

    Great article! One more thing I thought I’d mention (one of my FB peeves, among a few others) is when someone decides to invite all of their friend’s friends just to increase their own numbersregardless of whether they actually know most of them. And then proceeds to inundate these people with ridiculous invites that they’re never going to respond to anyway and other assorted FB garbage.

    Oh, the joys of social media! A whole new way to communicate; a whole new way to be rude and tick people off!

  77. says: Joe Bachana

    Great point Margaret Jeronimo-Andrews, but I’d put the onus of that on the S|M platform’s user interface and the users’ training/feature awareness. I bet most people don’t realize they can group ‘friends’ into categories, then send invites that are appropriate to those groups. Not saying some people abjectly ignore your preferences for event ‘spam’ — but most people probably just aren’t aware of how to configure that functionality (on FB, MS, etc).

    I get a lot of event invites since I happen to have a number of friends who are musicians and theater people. If I went to everyone’s show I’d probably have no time to work or see my family, however its nice to see what people are up to. One suggestion: Facebook should improve its user interface so that you could toggle alerts on and off BUT STILL have an interface to checkbox those events you are interested in attending.

    Finally, if I get invited to a LOT of events that I’m not interested in from a person I don’t really know, I unfriend them, and people should do the same with me or anyone else… options, gotta love ’em!

  78. Hey Tamar,

    Really great stuff. Thanks for sharing such a nice article. I always try to follow some standards that you have discussed in the article. This is how people should be on Social Media.

  79. “Would you do the following within real face-to-face relationships?”

    Yes and I love running around poking strangers. 🙂

    Actually I agree and disagree on stuff. The world is already normalized as it is and to try and tame the Internet, that is a tall order.

    Unless someone is repeatedly sending me nonsense they get the axe. Otherwise I’m tolerant with what goes on social media wise.

    I like what Gvac had to say. Indeed!

  80. says: Allen Taylor

    This is a great blog post. But I have a gripe from the other side and I believe this is an equally real issue.

    Social media sites should, as a courtesy, send out an e-mail to users when they suspend accounts to let them know why. As the Internet grows, there are more and more newbies who try to expand their horizons only to get their heads chopped off by some moderator and end up with no clue why. Imagine a toddler who makes a mess of its meal and the mother punches it in the face as a form of punishment for making the mess. That’s how some social sites treat their users.

    It wouldn’t take much to rig an autoresponder that notifies a social media user that their account was suspended for violating Article 5, Section 4, Paragraph 2a of our humble TOS. If the violator was an intentional spammer, they likely will not change their tactics; but if the violator is a newbie trying to learn the ropes then she is going to fall a few times. There should be some level of grace.

  81. I agree with Allen. Often, users will be blocked or deleted with no indication as to what exactly they did wrong. I myself got an email from Orkut stating that my account had been deactivated because “it violated our Terms of Use and/or image upload guidelines.” However, there was no pointer to what exactly I’d done wrong, and I couldn’t possibly imagine what it could be as I hadn’t touched that profile in months. (Never mind the fact that it wasn’t actually deactivated – the next time I logged in, it was intact – that’s a totally different topic.)

  82. Pingback: Sociala Gerillan
  83. says: Gerald Weber

    These are all very good points regarding etiquette on all these various platforms. I would think that most of these are common sense however I see people doing things wrong all the time so apparently there are some people who still don’t “get it”. I agree with you that the best way to approach social media etiquette is to approach it as if it were IRL. No different than a normal human style relationship. Thanks again for the great article, you laid it out for us really well here. 😉

  84. We see all the same mistakes at real life business networking events also, people Spam business cards, shove fliers in your face and shill their wares and move on. A lot times these people are rookies and just need to learn what networking is about. Your article seems to address these same issues and provides good advice for people that new to networking on-line.

  85. says: Jen Chiu

    Hi Tamar,
    I’m pretty new to social media and found your post to be really helpful. Will send to others.

    It seems like the typical faux pas has to do with people shamelessly promoting themselves. Do you have any advice for those that may be too timid / cautious? For example, a friend of mine is a teacher at a low income high school, and none of her friends knew she had a donation request on Her facebook page is all about personal hobbies and not her work.

    For those like my friend who may be uncomfortable with self-promotion, do you have any advice on how to start using social media to promote your cause in a non-obnoxious way?


  86. Jen, good question. I’d argue that moderation is key and using your personal profile (at least on Facebook, where information is viewable only as individuals must opt in to view more) is a perfectly acceptable vehicle for self-promotion.

    The concern lies in overbearing self-promotion — e.g. Tweets that are consistent and regular and merely point one’s followers to the same URL.

    Like any relationship, you’d never introduce yourself as someone who immediately needs something. You’d establish a relationship first and foremost, and once you feel comfortable with your peers, you’d tell them about your purpose. I don’t see this as an opportunity to lose.

    In terms of marrying your personal profile with your hobbies (like your friend on Facebook), it’s still a really good cause and I see no reason for her to hold back on the opportunity. If you sit on something like this for too long, the window of opportunity could pass.

  87. says: Jane Ara

    Very useful guidelines to new and existing contributors and users to social media. Easy to forget that it’s real people behind the profiles not pixels!

  88. says: igmuska

    I agree with all you have written about needing the validate social networking user’s identity before interacting with them. Perhaps the more paranoid would refute your words with privacy issues, but again, these same paranoid people have unlisted phone numbers. Having a digital media persona is no more dangerous than having your phone number in a phone book. But again if one doesn’t want the headache of having your phone ringing all the time, then use your chosen online pseudonym.

  89. says: Gino Cosme

    This is a fantastic list that more people should read! I’m amazed at how many people ignore these basics. After all, online networking is no different to offline networking, and quite frankly rude = rude. Here’s hoping more folk read this 🙂 Gino

  90. says: Bruce Elkin

    As a newbie to Soc Networking, I found this piece invaluable — and caught myself doing some of the sins. I’ll stop, now! Thank you for this valuable info. Much appreciated.

  91. If social media stays personal, like FaceBook, then I’m in. Once friends and relatives start marketing their services, inviting me to marketing events, via these services, count me out!
    If people did stick to some ‘Etiquette’, life would be grand, but in the meantime, chose your networks wisely

  92. says: Y. Steven

    Damn that is the most insight post i have ever seen in my life, great, very informative post. I’d like to rank this post 10/10 if necessary. You must have taken a lot time in writing all these, thanks so much for your effort

  93. says: Karen

    Saw a Tweet about your post and followed the link and wanted to say thanks for putting this out there! Most of what you say should be common sense but sure needed to be said!

    My pet peeve is people who post tweets 15-20 times a day. I unfollow after a few days of this!
    Thanks again,

  94. says: Sebastyne

    It has always amazed me how people can forget that they are still interacting with real people even if they were in the form of profiles. These people must be completely oblivious to the normal social rules, let alone the online social rules. I simply have stopped expecting too much of them, and just ignore them or delete them off my space.

    As for ignoring invites and friend requests, I do that all the time – they won’t be notified of it, so there’s no reason hanging onto Facebook friend requests forever. And now there’s that lovely “ignore all” button after the application requests. The only reason I returned to Facebook after getting sick of the constant application requests.

  95. says: Anna Green

    Excellent post here, i really got something out of reading it the problem for me is the lack of common sense that people using the web still have. What i really really hate are chain letters that say you will have bad luck for the rest of your life if you don’t forward it on to ten other people. And people you hardly know sending you constant invites to earn themselves credits, points or whatever. Its just rude in my opinion.

  96. says: Mike

    This was a wonderful article, and one that a lot of people should read. I hate all the “facebook friends” out there who keep sending me requests, yet I can’t remember ever having had a conversation with them in my life. Yes you go to school with me. No I don’t want to be your facebook friend. Get over yourself.

    This post should be required reading for anyone joining any sort of social networking site.

  97. says: Shanda

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU…..I am in the beginning stages of understanding and stream lining my social media presence and savvy. Your guide was informative and simple on hoe to approach and manage your digital personal. AGAIN…THANK YOU.

  98. This is a unique article with relevant tips on social media marketing. It was really nice going through it. Thanks a lot for sharing your views. Still looking forward for contents related to social network marketing and web 2.0 marketing.

  99. says: Tejas B

    While a lot of this information still holds true (have only read the extensive rules, not the long thread of comments following the article), how people use social media has changed a lot in 2009. Because of continued recession and job-market slump, people are waking up to networking in every possible way, and that has resulted in bilateral evolution of users and media itself.

    FaceBook is not just a personal networking tool, with companies utilizing that as a platform to connect with people. Professionals have started using it as a new venue to search for their needed services, and offering the same.

    It also needs some proactive measures on the side of a user, on how NOT to attract certain kind of traffic to your social networking accounts.
    *No point listing your FB, and Twitter accounts on your professional website, if all you are going to use it for is to put pictures of your last beach party, and tweet about how you got cheap tires for your SUV.
    *Keep it professional where you want to promote it as such.
    *No point going after unknown people coming from your professional website who send you invites to connect.
    *One message, one email, one post on the wall – is never considered a spam. Everyone should develop that much of tolerance on social networking site. No point going “Where the hell did you find me from?”! Man, you are ONLINE. Everyone can find you.

    While at one point of time, you definitely turn into a social media snob, and consider everyone who sends an invite one of “those people”, it helps everyone to “(before you accuse me) take a look at yourself”.

    Peace out!

  100. Hi Tejas,

    Thanks for your thoughts. I mention in the post the following:

    “That said, there’s one other rule that some individuals follow. I know this isn’t the case for all individuals, so your mileage may vary.”

    Really, I should now say that the emphasis is on some individuals. While us marketing types may be more keen to allow any/all users to become their Facebook friends, there are more than 200 million users on the service, after all, and I’d believe that the vast majority still use Facebook like I’ve mentioned in my post.

    And I’d contend regarding this comment: “One message, one email, one post on the wall – is never considered a spam.” that that’s questionable depending on the content. If I befriend you on Facebook and you immediately write on my wall, “Make $1000 at home today! CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO!,” you can sure as heck bet that you’re not going to be my Facebook friend anymore. I bet I’m not alone in this sentiment.

  101. says: Liz Lewis

    I realize this is an old post, but I just stumbled upon it and thought it was very insightful. I was hoping you could weigh in on something I’m struggling with. I am my company’s voice on Twitter and am now acutely aware that I’m probably driving people nuts with the occasional flurry of @name replies to customer questions, comments, etc.

    I have a couple of ideas on how to at least cut down on the stream of responses, but here’s the struggle – I use the @name reply because I have:

    a) been unaware of the ramifications to others’ feeds up until this point (what can I say, I’m a noob)
    b) If someone stumbles upon our page, I don’t want it to appear that I’m ignoring the customer and end up looking like one of those companies who never responds and only pushes content
    c) sometimes the replies are most likely of a wider interest (and those are probably the ones I will try to use my best judgment on and keep posting from time to time)

    I looked at your Twitter page and how you respond to people, and I think you have a good balance for a personal account. So, I’m really curious what you think the balance should be for a company account (especially one that has a reputation for strong customer service that I’m trying to live up to). I looked at some other companies that are cited as good Twitter examples, and they do a lot of the @name replies – maybe it’s more ok for larger companies where the replies won’t show up in most of your followers’ feeds. We’re a local company and our customers who are passionate enough to be on Twitter tend to follow each other a lot.

    Thanks so much for any insight you can provide!

  102. Hi Liz,

    Even though there are “best practices” for social media etiquette, there are no right or wrong ways to use social networks. Some companies will handle their communications in DMs only; others will use their feed. If replies are of a wider interest, you might want to add context around the response (e.g. instead of “you can find out about that HERE,” “you can find out about our premium pricing HERE.”) At the end of the day, all of this boils down to whether you’re comfortable with responding publicly. But of course, you can use other company streams for inspiration, like JetBlue or Comcast.

    Like you acknowledged, though, a good balance of customer-centric and company-centric tweets would probably be ideal. People will follow you if they are interested in you as a company, especially if you do add value to their streams — even if, every so often, you answer a customer directly.

  103. says: Paul Hovey

    Thank you for this posting.
    I am still learning how to network and I want to do it the right way.
    I volunteer at Free Geek, an organization the recycles computers in Portland. I also belong to a Yahoo job search group and am interested in linked in.
    Paul Hovey

  104. says: Gail Gardner

    Hi Tamar,

    This post was my source for what you said about the use of If you feel it would be useful for some purposes would you consider writing a post specifically about best practices for using that service?

    I value your opinion and as I develop recommendations for businesses that is bound to come up. I would like to know more about what you advise. We both know that we must be wise about what we automate and how many copies of any specific content end up on the same site.

    Should anyone read this deep into the comments here I just want to add that Tamar’s New Community Rules book is an excellent way for anyone and especially business owners to quickly determine which Social Networks to use, how to use them and more importantly how NOT to use them. I recommend it regularly.

  105. Hi Gail,

    I’m not sure it warrants a post. My problem with is that people use it specifically for broadcasting — you can post to dozens of social networks at once — but not for engagement.

    Genuine social media involves being actively involved in the discussions. If you want to foster relationships, you’d be following everything, not just pumping out content to a bunch of social networks without follow-up just because you can.

    I purposely keep my social networks separate; my Facebook feed is drastically different than my Twitter feed, and I’m going to do due diligence and follow up with the conversations. seems like an easy way to keep in touch but not to actually care about what other people have to say in response to your broadcasts.

  106. says: Joan Stewart

    Wow Tamar,

    I started off reading the short version in MyBlogLog, followed through to the longer write up about SU and ended up here.

    Thanks, this really spells it out for everyone, business online is exactly the same as offline. Treat each other with respect and friendships form naturally. Thanks for a excellent breakdown of each social site. This was written in 2008 now 2010 and the rule still applies!

    FaceBook have opened NetworkedBlogs and a Marketing spot for those who wish to do marketing – I have tried to split the private from the business, unfortunately not quick enough.

  107. says: Maria

    I was researching social media etiquette and came across your piece. Love it! And agree to all your points. I had a FB friend (who’s someone I don’t really know) email me yesterday and tell me I that she experienced bad etiquette from me – one being on FB that she’s joined groups I’ve posted but I haven’t joined hers. Quite frankly, I don’t keep track of who’s joining. I don’t jam “join this” down my FB friends throats either. If they do they do, if they don’t they don’t. Anyway, thx for this post.

    1. Thanks, Maria, for your comment. To be honest, I don’t think you did anything wrong there. I won’t join Facebook groups I don’t have an interest in either since my FB account is aligned with the real me and not the me who needs to please everyone. I’d tell her not to expect it just because you’re friends — unless, of course, you have an interest in it.

  108. says: Pete

    Thanks for the great info! We had a little debate here at the boutique I work at about whether or not we can mention some of our “celebrity clients” in our blog or on our Facebook page. For instance, we want to congratulate a customer of ours on our Facebook page because she received some good publicity recently. The main issue we see is disclosing that they are a customer of ours. Can we just do it? Should we ask permission, and if so, how? Thanks for the help!

    1. Hey Pete, you created an email address just for me? That’s so sweet 😉

      I think it’s up to you on this – but most importantly, it depends on a few factors: are there NDAs in place? Does the client know that you may potentially promote them in this way? It should DEFINITELY be understood between client and service provider that there may be this kind of cross promotion. Don’t do it unless there’s a firm understanding of what they are to expect.

  109. says: Pete

    Thanks for the quick response! The issue is that we want to be able to say that “so and so” is our client, and hopefully people will be drawn to that. We don’t want them to endorse anything or pose for pictures with certain products (not that we’d be against that!), but that we just want to say “So and so, whom we’re honored to call a customer, has a new movie coming out.” I’m not sure if that’s any different than just saying “Celebrity X stopped by the store today” because it’s not just namedropping. There are no NDAs or anything because we’re open to the public; it’s akin to seeing someone eating in a restaurant or shopping at a Target…

    1. Why not just ask them? If it’s just a short visit, that’s one thing. But if they repeatedly come to you, I think this is a possibility to build a mutually beneficial relationship. Asking them wouldn’t hurt at all.

  110. says: George williamscom

    One thing you don’t mention about Facebook was that it was originally for college students, yet every damn group or person is a member of that, I really wish it would go back to that.
    From Wiki, “Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg with his college roommates and fellow computer science students Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes. The website’s membership was initially limited by the founders to Harvard students, but was expanded to other colleges in the Boston area, the Ivy League, and Stanford University. It later expanded further to include (potentially) any university student, then high school students, and, finally, to anyone aged 13 and over. The website currently has more than 400 million active users worldwide.”
    So anyhows, unless they state about it, really, most of the older users of the net, i.e. the ones first on the net, really could care less, and I mean back in the early day when most o0f the talk on the net was the hype around dvd’s coming out, and other tech related things, oh and other inglorious things such as internet hacking,virus’s porn and what not, things I don’t agree with, but none the less, the internet was rife with those types of things from the onset of it going public.

  111. says: George williamscom

    In addendum to this, I’d also like to clarify I’m pretty against a lot of the things I previously mentioned, especially due to that fact minors or those that might find it objectionable could easily access such things . It’s a good thing things like that have changed, but in the beginning etiquette on the net didn’t really exist( as far as I could see, roughly circa 1997 or so). Somethings do really deserve to not be aired publicly, a time and place for everything, but some people take being etiquette police much too far.

  112. says: Sandy

    Hi Tamar,

    I am not going to say great article and leave ;-).

    So – good article and to be honest, it really boils down to some basics that as you said, should be rooted from our real lives.

    – Introduce yourself & be Honest & Humble (not that self promotion or slight embellishment ain’t allowed cuz all of us do it on our daily lives too)
    – Look to first understand and add value before expecting anything back in return (Coveys principle of emotional bank account)
    – Respect private space
    -I can add a couple more but I guess I will save it for an article sometime 🙂

    Point is, that social sites continue to blossom so one can’t really ever write a guide to all of them (besides, the sites are evolving in nature therefore specifics will always change). If people focus on the principles, then the characteristics will always be pretty acceptable.

    Related to the point of social sites continuing to blossom, is the fact that people shouldn’t try to be on all the popular sites (thus provide unnecessary but I guess now unavoidable business avenues for site registration and syndication services which are intended largely to foster one way communication) because there is no way one would be able to be active and involved in all the communities. Kinda like life again, we aren’t going to be a member of every organization, charity and association in our neighbourhood are we? We should select a few that we like and find appropriate and interact in those meaningfully.

    So comes to my question for you. Which are your fav social sites? I personally liked digg (btw that where I met you coupla years ago and we used to chat on msn or yahoo – dont remember which, I think I used to use my other nickname “Bang”) facebook and am thinking about getting into twitter. I have been out of the online social marketing scene for a while and am looking to come back.

    So we will be seeing each other more often I guess. 🙂



  113. says: Deanna

    This is a very well written article. I always joke about the only people making money using social media are the ones selling ebooks on how to do it. All of the points of engaging and communicating with your audience are key points to sales. People send out insane amounts of requests, add friends in large amounts (Facebook is now closing FB accounts when they see this happening. It is considered Spam) and post continuous URL’s into their status updates.
    It can be used as a wonderful marketing tool BUT I agree that when used in that context professional social medial networks such as linkedin are much more appropriate.
    Facebook, Twitter, My Space etc….have opened the world up to mass amounts of people communicating with no idea of etiquette.
    Well written and much appreciated.

  114. says: Haider

    A great handbook and some excellent comments, as well! 😀

    I like how you started off by indicating the connection between face-to-face social etiquette and online etiquette. Once we solidify that connection in our minds, we won’t need to memorize all the points you mention. They’ll simply become common sensical.

    One observation to add:

    A lot of what we say is open to a huge set of possible interpretations. We usually narrow down the possibilities based on what we know about the person speaking. If you speak to a person who doesn’t know you, the chances of misinterpretations and misunderstandings grow, so it’s important to be as clear as possible.

    For example, when using sarcasm with someone who doesn’t know you very well, it’s important to point out that it’s being used, since it may not be so apparent to the recipient.

    A takeaway from this post: Get a scrolling LED collar for my dog.

    But first: Get a dog…

  115. says: Tess

    Really useful and informative article 🙂 I guess that a lot of people just don’t know about social media etiquette but they have to if they want to be successful in that fast living sphere. Thanks a lot for sharing.

  116. says: Andrew North

    Hi Guys, i see this is an oldish post, but I just stumbled upon it and thought it was very insightful.

    I feel many people are becoming aware of what social media is now a days with the likes of face book and twitter however it was interesting to find a good article discussing social media etiquette.

  117. says: megan

    This is a helpful article.Social media as it means being ‘social’. You don’t want to do things over virtual world what you don’t want to do in real world.
    Before entering social media world people must know the etiquette.

  118. says: mems_dtg

    Good post, also make sure you are echoing the voice of your brand or company as inconsistency between standard brand marketing and social media can confuse and muddle customers and your image.

    Editor’s note: Thank you, but as per my blog policy, I’ve asked you to use your real name. I don’t think your real initials are CWH based on the URL link you provided, so I made a change as I stated I would. It’s funny you did this on this very post, since this is the epitome of blog spam. You are bullet point #4 in the introduction, “pink house gardening.” Thank you for letting me make an example of you.

  119. says: Dave

    Thanks for sharing. A real lot of useful info here!

    Edited: Ah, more irony. You ignored the article and milked me for a ranking for Plumber London (mind if I take it?). Thank you for ignoring my blog policy (linked below my comment box and in the footer of the site), which gives me the right to edit your comment and URL. Thanks for playing, Dave!

  120. says: Isra García

    I’ve found it surfing for the Web and let me tell you how much agree with the post.
    Chances are you’re going to find lots of suckers. I’ll share this post with each one, as long as I bump into them.

    Thanks Tamar for this beautiful piece of advice you’ve put together.

  121. says: Eleazar

    Excellent article! Thanks for expounding and detailing the proper way to deal with social media sites. Indeed, we should be responsible enough to show some manners and be polite when communicating in the world of social media.

    Don’t offend anyone so that others won’t offend you too. It’s just a matter of do unto others what you want others to do unto you.

    Editor’s Note: You know what I find ironic about this comment, Eleazar? You didn’t read it but thought it was excellent. Further, you didn’t read my blog policy either. I wouldn’t call you InspiroHost to your face, so why would you possibly want to be known as that on my comment unless you just wanted to use this blog post to build up your SEO profile? No thanks, and I stole your link too.

  122. says: Stuart

    LinkedIn seems to have rissen up in the social media playground lately and also is one that has a lot more benefits than the majority of the rest. I bet there are a lot of social sins created here that could have negative effects on careers than in most other media platforms! Does anyone have any funny stories relating to this? 🙂

  123. says: Rob

    HaHa good post – I especially like the bit about tagging your friends in unflattering photos – I’ve seen in the papers a few people being sacked for this!

  124. says: pranav

    Thanks Tamar for such a great post ! Etiquettes are really important as on the web it truly reflects the personality and social sense of the social media user.

  125. says: Caleb

    This is definitely a valuable source of information for people who are familiar with the internet but have not had much interaction on social media to learn all of the different rules that are not considered normal in the everyday world.

  126. says: Austin

    Really useful info on internet etiquette. It’s kind of hard to get up on everything so this is a good primer. The other thing is that it’s kind of fluid and things change.

  127. says: Dan

    This is an absolutely killer post, this is indeed a mini handbook. I cant explain how these twitter youtube and facebook tips have helped me in ranking on google, trust me it works you just need to follow the procedure

  128. says: T.J.

    Great guideline of tips that still hold true 3 years later. Another thing to add using Twitter search to engage with people that are tweeting about topics you are interested in or passionate about is a great way to find new people to follow and learn from

  129. says: James W.

    It is interesting to see how social media has changed the way almost every business operates. We have seen a huge spike in traffic to our Facebook page by offering specials there (instead of the traditional method of just offering coupons on our website).

    The thing that we are trying to figure out is how often we should update and how to make sure that our Facebook friends and Twitter followers are not bombarded by posts!

  130. Social Media has increased so much over the past few years and it’s crazy to see how much it’s helped to improve our business. We are only really on Twitter and haven’t really managed to get our Facebook page up and running properly but it’s definitely helped to make a positive impact on our business!

    On another one of my businesses, we were retweeted by one of the dragons (Theo Papthitis) who has hundreds of thousands of followers. Within about 20 minutes, we had an extra 400 followers on Twitter. The power of Social Media!

    Great post, thanks!

  131. Great article. Amazing in just a few short years how this list has actually changed and how people are using this more now than ever, especially in education.

    Editor’s Note: Thanks Brandon, but I can’t use “Education” as your Name. It’s against my blog policy.

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