10 Social Media Tips for Thirty-Somethings

We’re not spring chickens. Not quite old as dirt. Thirty-somethings have no excuse. We should be savvy when it comes to social media. But we’re not.

In 1993, my college was one of the first in the nation to issue email to its students. I remember going to the computer lab all hours of the night to write friends who lived across campus. And I’m quite certain that my roommate was the first girl in the world to get dumped by her boyfriend electronically. Cutting edge stuff.

During our early twenties, we were also the first to adopt cell phones and become addicted to constant connectivity. We should be the leaders in social media. You’d think.

Instead, I see so many people in this age group make astonishing, annoying, or just plain foolish mistakes with social media. Below are some basic DOs and DON’Ts to consider before spouting off at the keyboard.

 DO:

  • Think twice before posting. If you wouldn’t announce it from a podium in your high school gymnasium, don’t share.
  • Stay mostly positive. Nobody likes a Negative Nellie ruining their news feed. If you feel the urge to file a complaint, keep it light or make it funny. “Effective immediately, all inside-out clothing in the laundry will be donated to charity” is a lot better than, “Why can’t my family turn their freaking clothes right-side-out!”
  • Remember it’s not all about you. Share things that are interesting or beneficial to your friends. We like fun blogs, interesting articles, and new music.
  • Post cute photos of your children on occasion. We love seeing our friends’ kids. Just don’t overdo it. The only people who care to know every cute thing your child has ever said or done are Aunt Susie and Grandma Mae.
  • Consider your audience. Keep in mind that when you comment on someone’s status, everyone who commented before you also receives notification of what you’ve said. Make sure that you are adding to the discussion in a productive way. Does my former boss, headmaster at a prestigious school in Virginia, need to hear my friend rant on and on about how her children destroyed the backyard and she’s *this close* to selling them on eBay after drinking her entire wine cellar?  There are times when this comment might be appropriate. But pay attention to the conversation.

DON’T

  • Complain incessantly about your job or children. I know plenty of people who are unemployed or desperately long for children, and they would gladly take yours. No job is perfect. Parenting is hard. But would you stand on a street corner with a mega phone and exclaim, “My kids are being pricks today and Timmy won’t nap! I want to scream!” No, you’d look like a fool and people walking by would (hopefully) hand you a sedative.
  • Share what you’re eating. Unless of course you are a professional chef like my friend Rodney, or you’re having beignets in New Orleans for Mardi Gras. Go ahead and post that great new recipe you found, but in general we don’t care what you had for breakfast.
  • Be passive aggressive. Status updates like “Worst day ever!” or “I’m so worried!” add absolutely nothing to the social media conversation. What do you hope to accomplish? Do you want people to come running to ask you what’s the matter? If you’re feeling this way, call a friend. Or just go ahead and announce to the world why you had the worst day ever.
  • Post irrelevant comments on a friend’s status. Someone says “Got accepted to my #1 choice MBA program!” and his friends proceed to congratulate him and discuss the details. Then some bozo chimes in with “Hey did you get my email about dinner Friday night? Is it ok if I bring my dog?” Uh, really? Just as important as knowing your audience, know when to take a conversation private.
  • Overuse punctuation, capitalization, or run-on sentences. When you WRITE LIKE THIS it looks like YOU’RE YELLLLLLINNGGGGGG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Or desperate for attention because OMG traffic is so bad that you’re going to miss an appointment and then surely your life will be ruined!!!!!!!!???????

Social media can be a wonderful thing. It helps us maintain and grow relationships. Cheer for friends in their triumphs. Encourage them in their trials.

Those who use it effectively gain a lot both personally and professionally. Those who don’t run the risk of being hidden from their friends’ news feeds.

What tips would you add to this list?

 
 
  • Andy Jones-Wilkins

    Nice piece, and I love the part about your former boss:)

    Hope all is well.

    Andy

    • Tracy

      Hi Andy! I was hoping you might see this. 🙂 Thanks for reading.

  • Rebekah Humes

    Once again THANK YOU!
    I have to say, I’m a little worried about my punctuation:/ I know write a lot of unnecessary periods! Heeheeee
    Anyway, so true about “postings”. I’ve actually tried to back away from posting status updates. I don’t’ want to sound like I’m bragging, complaining, etc., I’ve realized that you can learn a lot about people by what they post. Indeed, I am always grateful to those who post a verse:)
    Love you Trace!

    • Tracy

      Don’t be too hard on yourself about the punctuation. It’s not a test. 🙂 These are just things to keep in mind. And thank YOU for the relentless encouragement. You rock.

  • Wendy

    YES YES YES!! Sorry that was a bit screamy of me! You nailed it. This should be standard reading for all facebook users.
    And for the record, your facebook posts always follow these rules and never fail to entertain!

    • Tracy

      There’s nothing wrong with screamy, in the right context of course!

  • olga

    That’s why I cancelled FB after being on it for 3 months back 3 years ago, never got into i-phone or figured what twitter is.

    • Tracy

      There are definitely pros and cons to being connected, Olga, and I can understand your frustration. I really enjoy being on Facebook because it allows me to keep in touch with friends. After living in 10 different cities in my life it is ideal to “see” everyone in one place.

  • Bev

    So true! Thanks Tracy. Love reading your blogs! ~Bev

    • Tracy

      Thanks, Bev!

  • Heidi

    OMG, IKR!!!????!!! Tracy FTW!!!

    Do not speak (or post) in abbreviation; it is not a language. If you simply can’t resist, use them sparingly and by all means resist the temptation to over punctuate.

    Another winner, Tracy. Thank you!

    • Tracy

      I have one friend who over punctuates every single status. It kills me.

      “Going out to dinnnneeerrrrrr tonight wooooohoooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

      Seriously.

  • Andrea

    Love this post! Amen, sister! Read a really interesting book somewhat relating to this – about the face that people put on in social media. It’s called “Veneer” and it’s a great read – in case you’re interested!

    • Tracy

      Thanks, Andrea! I’ll have to check out the book.

  • I’m posting this on my facebook feed right now! Hopefully it will give my friends food for thought and motivation to re-evaluate some of their social media habits. As well as remind myself to maintain good social media manners.

    • Tracy

      Great, Beck! Thanks for sharing with your friends. I also hope it will give them some things to think about. One of my girlfriends sent me a message last week apologizing for posting a photo of her salad and asking me not to de-friend her as a result! We had a good laugh over it. Some rules are meant to be broken.

  • Hi! Great reading! I just followed in from Michael Hyatt’s site after reading your post on appreciation! Excellent stuff! Keep writing!
    Regards!
    Danny!

    • Tracy

      Welcome to Time with Tracy, Danny! I’m happy to see you over here. Thanks for reading, and especially for the encouragement to keep writing. I really appreciate it.

    • Heidi

      Danny, that’s hilarious.