Most of us use sites like Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter several times a day, and it's become so second nature we may not even realize the
do's and don'ts of social media etiquette. You might, for example, forget to comment back when someone leaves you a message. Or you might occasionally find yourself caught up in a heated debate (where you TYPE IN ALL CAPS). While these habits may come off as rude to some people, you're only human.
It is important, though, to take a step back and think about the way you act online, just like you would in real life. "Etiquette exists to put everyone on equal footing because everyone can learn and adhere to the same rules," Andrea Kiliany Thatcher, a marketing manager at
Smith Publicity, tells Bustle. "Just like 'IRL,' social media etiquette can help you feel more comfortable in your interactions and relationships."
And following a few rules can help others feel more comfortable, too. "The internet is overflowing with different cultures and customs. The guidelines it has developed over the years allow for seamless interactions between people of all backgrounds,"
social media strategist Meara McNitt tells Bustle. "And with the knowledge that everything that goes online is there forever, it’s important to want your best foot to always be forward." Here are a few common mistakes experts say to stay away from so you can always be your best self online.
Tagging Friends Without Asking
Tagging your friends in a group photo might seem harmless, but it's important to get their permission first. "While you may consider something appropriate ... it may put them in a negative situation — and strain your friendship," says McNitt. "Make sure you get everyone’s approval before uploading and tagging pictures."
Complaining About Your Job
We've all watched in horror as others have gotten fired for
talking about their bosses or jobs on social media. And yet it's still an easy mistake to make, especially when you're upset about something that happened at work. Complaining or joking about coworkers might help you feel better. But it's never worth it.
"This is especially true if [the things you post] are embarrassing, threatening, poking fun of, or belittling them,"
career coach Devay Campmbell, SHRM-CP tells Bustle. "Your employer may have strict guidelines against this, it could cause workplace controversy, or lead to your termination. Down the road, doing this could [even] cause you to be be overlooked for future employment."
If you're having a lot of fun ideas, or taking a million great photos, you might be tempted to post them in quick succession. But there's something to be said for giving your followers time to breathe.
"Nothing can cause someone to unfollow you like uploading ten or more photos in a day," social media director Zellie Friedman, of
Power Digital Marketing, tells Bustle. "Luckily the Instagram algorithm is combating this by showing you only content you want to see." It's still smart, however, to limit your posts to about one a day.
The right hashtag can be hilarious. And obviously they can come in handy when connecting you to other people, too. But overusing them is a big mistake many people make. As Elishia Ortiz, a social media expert at
Fidelitas Development tells Bustle, "If you spam your post with too many hashtags you are devaluing your account." It's much better to use them tastefully and selectively, so you don't overwhelm your followers.
When it comes to your career, social media can play a major role in connecting you with people you'd like to work with, while also expanding your brand. But it's important not to go about any of this forcefully.
"I think one of the biggest mistakes people make on social media when they’re hoping to
forge a connection with an influencer or brand is to assume a greater level of familiarity than you actually have," says Kiliany Thatcher. "I always tell authors you wouldn’t just walk up to someone at a dinner party and say 'buy my book!' so don’t do that on social media, either. Forge a natural connection, make interesting conversation, and let interest in your book, brand, [or other product] develop naturally."
Oversharing Your Personal Info
It's totally OK to vent online, as long as you aren't naming names or possibly putting your reputation in jeopardy while you do so. That said, it is possible to overshare, either in terms of the things you're talking about, or how frequently you post.
overshare on social media can be irritating, especially if you are regularly posting sad or angry content," Amy Kilvington, a social media manager at Blinds Direct, tells Bustle. "This will have a negative impact on the people that are connected with you, and they're more likely to block you or ignore future posts."
If you feel the need to vent, and are looking for an outlet to do that, it's much healthier to
reach out to a friend or counselor in real life for some advice.
Announcing You're Cleaning Up Your Friend List
We've all seen the post that goes something like, "If you can read this, you survived my friend list purge." But, as Jacquelyn Youst, president of
Pennsylvania Academy of Protocol tells Bustle, "There is no need to announce this and offend anyone."
It might seem funny, or like a major compliment to all the people reading it. But since it can come off as a bit rude, it's something that's better left unsaid.
Asking (Or Begging) For Followers
It's nice to have followers. No doubt about it. But if you make it your life's work to leave comments asking for followers, it can turn some people off, and even have the opposite effect.
"Being needy is a social media faux pas," says Kilvington. "You shouldn't beg friends or followers to like things, comment, or retweet." By just being your natural self, interacting with people, and sharing interesting content, you can
build your followers over time — without having to ask.
When something awesome is happening in your life — like maybe you're on a great vacation, or snagging job promotions left and right — you can certainly feel free to post photos, or talk about your achievements online. Just try not to make it your mission to leave your followers with FOMO.
"Social media is a place to share snapshots of your life, but beware of showing off too much," says Kilvington. "Sharing your achievements from time to time is great, but if you brag too much you could upset people."
Talking About Your Business Venture On Facebook
Obviously, you can talk about your life on Facebook, including posting about your latest business move. Spamming your friends and fam isn't always a great idea, though. And, in some instances, doing so might even violate Facebook's "
terms of service."
"Your friends and family are not necessarily interested in your business venture," social media expert Nina Simmons, owner of
NB&NS, tells Bustle. "If you think they may be you can invite them to follow you on a business page. If you constantly post on your personal page about your business, your friends and family [may] see [it] as a nuisance. Or even worse, Facebook may completely deactivate your account for violating their terms."
Forgetting To Write Back
If you're a busy person, or have an incredibly active life on social media, it might be impossible to reply to every single comment you receive, much less keep up with every request. But whenever possible, it's important to try.
"[One] of the biggest mistakes I see on social media is people not responding to comments and/or reciprocating,"
licensed psychotherapist Lisa Hutchison LMHC tells Bustle. "It is the same in real life — we all want to be seen and validated. The response does not have to be elaborate. It can be as simple as a 'thank you' while acknowledging their name. Whenever someone takes time out of their day to leave a comment, it should be appreciated."
By keeping little habits like these in mind, it can help you navigate the wild world that is social media, and make sure you keep authentic, natural connections.