Real-life communication will always outrank digital life. For many of us, however, social media can be a fantastic platform to create a refined social image that may lead to several opportunities, if crafted carefully. Your image, personal brand and reputation are what you communicate through what you share on social media. So, even if you don’t use the platform for business, there are a few unspoken rules of etiquette that you may want to pay heed to.
1. Avoid anonymity. The chances of people of importance communicating with you if you have no face on your social media profile are low. For security reasons, not many are comfortable interacting with faceless and nameless profiles. If you want to keep your profile private, by all means, do so. However, retain your name and a decent headshot for your display picture, so that in case you want to interact with someone, they will feel comfortable responding to you. Also, a full name handle is preferred over an unclear handle. The human brain will always be sceptical about interacting with the anonymous. For WhatsApp, many prefer to keep the display picture blank, and that’s fine as the person you will be interacting with will mostly have your name and contact information; however, a decent headshot is always preferable.
2. Keep a check on your posting frequency. How much is too much? I’d recommend that you completely avoid imposing religious, financial, political and personal beliefs on others. Your personal choices are yours, but not everyone needs to know about them. Social media is not the wisest place to vent emotionally.
3. Don’t be obsessed with followers. The current generation is a little too obsessed with numbers. We know followers are not always friends but, sometimes, a follower can become a good friend. I have gained many private clients through social media, who have become dear friends. As your followers are the people who share similar interests with you, what you post is what you attract. Be niche and choose quality over quantity.
4. Consider manners versus etiquette. If you want to keep your colleagues out of your friends list, etiquette-wise, that’s completely fine – but manners-wise, it’s not okay. For example: if a boss or a colleague sends you a friend request, from a strictly professional etiquette point of view, it’s okay to decline it. But can you build a good relationship from there? Etiquette is nothing if it doesn’t work in your favour! My recommendation would be to keep your profile clean and credible to the point that you are not uncomfortable with your colleagues watching you.
5. Use it to improve yourself. Social media is a great platform on which to educate yourself and feed your mind with varied knowledge and information. Follow at least 15 people you know who have completely different interests than yours. Follow at least three news sources you wouldn’t naturally follow. And follow at least 20 people who have a different racial profile than yours.
6. Be kind in your interactions. This may be the most important point. Compassion goes a long way – even on social media. You can give someone’s day a lift, help their career with a good testimonial, or be someone’s silent mentor. Till next week, #beextraordinary.