All About Social Media Etiquette

How did you celebrate #SocialMediaDay this year?

At the Business Career Hub, we spent June 30th talking to experts about how you can use social media to support and enhance your business career. Our June #BizHubChat was all about social media etiquette, and we brought in experts from Splash Effect (@SplashEffectCA), a digital agency that helps forward-thinking brands and education organizations build online communities through social media, to help us figure out what’s what.

1) Should you personalize your LinkedIn requests to connect with others?

It’s hard to believe how often people attempt to connect on LinkedIn without personalizing the message. Our experts agree: unless you’re connecting with a friend or colleague you see regularly, you should always add a message to clarify your connection.

Plus, personalizing your message shows you’re making an effort, which will make your new contact much more likely to make their own effort to connect back with you.

Sometimes it’s okay to not write a message, but only leave out this step if your connection is a friend or someone in your professional community you know well or have worked with personally.

2) Should you connect with your boss or coworkers on social media?

Sure, why not? Connecting with current coworkers gives you the chance to be your whole self at work. But think about your industry or workplace before you reach out, and think about the platforms you use. There may be some platforms you prefer to use professionally and some you prefer to keep personal/private.

Most of us are connected with people we don’t see regularly, so why not connect with the colleagues you see every day? Also, consider that, depending on your industry, it may look suspicious if you refuse to connect. People may ask, What are you hiding?

Connecting on social media allows you to share your personality and interests with your colleagues, but remember to keep your tone professional.

Remember: the platform you connect through is important and also be sure to be aware of what you’re sharing!

Connecting with colleagues on LinkedIn is a must, but make sure it makes sense to have that person as a connection.

You should never feel pressured to connect when you don’t want to.

Don’t forget that connecting with colleagues is a great way to showcase and reinforce your personal brand. But always be smart about what you’re sharing online.

3) How do I reach out to someone new over social media to build my network?

A good entryway is to engage with their posts/content on social media. Once this rapport has built up, connect via Direct Message, but be sure to have a clear goal in mind for why you want to connect. You may also want to try out Ten Thousand Coffees to make that first connection, as the intention will be clear: to connect over a quick cup of coffee.

Another great way to make a connection on social media is to have a mutual connection in your network make an introduction.

Building your network is like a relationship: start slow and get to know their interests before connecting on a deeper level.

Before you connect, be sure to figure out how this connection will also be beneficial to the person you’re trying to connect with. This provides them with an incentive to speak with you.

Be clear with your goals and pay attention to the interests and background your contact outlines in his or her profile.

4) What’s the right way to decline a request to connect with someone on social media?

You don’t need accept every request. Declining is not impolite, it’s strategic. Sometime it’s okay to just ignore it. But if you receive a follow-up email, you should respond with an honest explanation.

If you do have to explain, just be honest!

If you’re just declining the request without an explanation, that’s OK. It’s standard practice even though it sometimes feels a bit harsh.

5) If someone follows you or adds you on social media, must you automatically follow them back?

No, but do them the courtesy of checking out their profile. You might find that you like their content or that it could be a beneficial connection for you. Also, consider the optics of the situation. Sometimes it’s important to follow someone you typically wouldn’t based on your interests because of business potential.

Before you follow back, be sure to check out their content and make sure they are real. Genuine followers are much more valuable than fake ones, so don’t go seeking them out.

Social media is all about curating your own experience. It’s important to have fun on social, so don’t follow people who won’t bring you joy.

Give their profile a quick scan and assess whether they are interesting to you before you choose to follow them.

Always be aware of who has access to your social profiles and remember to consider quality over quantity when it comes to your followers. Also, make sure they align with your personal values, as the people you follow contribute as much to your personal brand as you do.

6) What is your final advice on how to create a positive impression through social?

Splash Effect’s final advice: be yourself. The classic advice to “be professional” doesn’t mean you only have to post about work. You can still be professional while posting about the things you do when not at work or with colleagues.

Try to share content that is useful, informative and inspiring — provide value to your followers by posting content that isn’t all about you. But most importantly – have fun!

Want to check out the full #BizHubChat on social media etiquette? Visit this Storify summary to relive the entire chat.

The TRSM Business Career Hub is open to students and alumni throughout the summer. If you have any career related questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. We hope to see you soon.

Follow TRSM’s Business Career Hub on Twitter: @TRSMcareers