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.
- 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.
- 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?