When you read the word etiquette, what pops into your head? Does it take you to a time buried deep in the past? Perhaps it conjures up images of a Victorian formal dinner. A table set with eight forks, several knives, and an assortment of spoons. Complicated rules for using silverware on the dining table or even greeting a friend. Things are different now. For instance, today, the primary mode of communication has moved online through social media. That’s where social media etiquettes come into play.
We heard you groan, and believe us. We know it seems tiresome. However, social media etiquettes help us find our way through the internet without stepping on any toes. We spend a large part of our waking hours online. We should be aware of a basic code of conduct for the same.
We’re going to learn all about social media etiquettes today. First, let’s take a peek at the history of etiquettes and how they came to be.
What are etiquettes?
The word etiquette was initially used around mid 18th century when it was mentioned in a book by Philip Stanhope. Etiquette refers to the conventional rules that apply to behavior in society. There was a heavy emphasis on being polite and pleasant. As a result, these qualities influenced etiquettes.
By the 19th century, etiquettes had evolved into a complicated system. Some rules and codes governed all aspects of life and behavior. These etiquettes differed among the classes as classism was quite prevalent in the Victorian era. They had rules for everything from the writing style to language. Etiquettes ruled interpersonal interactions as well.
While we no longer follow these rules strictly, these social behaviors and rituals allow society to remain ordered and flourish. Social manners are threefold, i.e., manners of hygiene, courtesy, and cultural norms. These range from personal to socio-cultural and are important to the well-being of society as a whole.
Well, that’s on etiquettes. Today we live in a digital era, where society isn’t dictated by the proximity of people anymore. We’re connected to each other across the globe through the internet.
So how do etiquettes apply in the internet age?
What are netiquettes?
Well, just as etiquettes help us function in society. Similarly, there’s a set of rules to help us interact with others on the internet and exchange information. These are called Netiquettes. A word born out of “network” and “etiquette.” A code of conduct for the internet, if you will. Netiquettes aim to maintain decorum and display good manners while browsing the internet. They cover all aspects of virtual interaction like DMs, messenger apps, emails, and even multiplayer gaming.
Virginia shea first suggested proper netiquette in a book in 1994, yet it holds its relevance even in the present. The main idea is to maintain mutual respect even in digital interactions. Back in the ‘90s, virtual communication was still budding. Email was big, but rapid online exchanges were an issue with slow dial-up connections.
Today we have expanded our channels of communication through high-speed internet. We have a massive number of social media apps. Of these, six social media platforms boast upwards of a billion users each! This online engagement has led to a sub-category of netiquettes, namely, Social Media Etiquettes.
And that’s going to be our focus today.
Importance of Social Media Etiquettes
Considering the amount of time and energy we pour into social media sites, there should be a set of guidelines on how to behave when we’re online. These rules apply to both individuals and brands, albeit in different ways. Social media etiquettes are crucial to maintaining one’s online reputation and having a safer experience.
But why are these social media etiquettes so important?
The answer depends on what you use social media for and specific apps. Say you’re merely a consumer, someone who enjoys scrolling through social media every day. You love interacting with your favorite creators. You must have come across some nasty, even vulgar comments. It’s no doubt that social media offers a fantastic platform for creators. But it also gives stalkers and trolls a stage. If you’re a creator, you reckon with the reality of the adage, “It is not possible to make everyone happy.” If you manage a brand’s social media handle, the rules differ when you use your handle. The list goes on. The only thread that remains constant is respect.
Maintaining social media etiquette, no matter your purpose makes for a pleasant online experience. You’ll enjoy better engagement and success if you follow social media etiquette.
What kind of social media etiquette should you follow in your online venturing?
Social Media Etiquettes for Different Folks Online
Let’s break down social media etiquettes as they apply to different folks online:
- It is of utmost importance that your social media reflect your core values as a brand. It is natural to want to jump on trending topics. However, make sure to handle sensitive issues with the care they deserve. Social media is a great tool to connect with your consumers directly. They will appreciate and even expect a timely response. You may be tempted to be present everywhere, but pick and choose the right social media platform for your brand.
- Treat your followers with respect as they are the consumers of your content. If you do endorsements, be upfront about them. Make sure that your content doesn’t hurt any feelings or isn’t disrespectful to communities. Be honest and relatable with your followers. There’s a growing disconnect between content full of filters that can dishearten your followers.
- As primary consumers of content on social media, you represent the most significant demographic online. You must respect the boundaries of different creators and other users. Be mindful of the words you use and the kind of comments you leave. Treat people the way you’d treat them in person. And as the saying goes, “if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything.”
Social Media Etiquettes on Different Websites
There are many popular social media sites to interact with people. We must be aware of the slightly different etiquettes to follow while browsing these sites. Let’s take a look at social media etiquettes for various websites:
- There are so many topical groups on Facebook that cater to the particular interests of individuals. The nature of conversation on Facebook is casual, yet small arguments blow up into a comment war. Be wary of feeding trolls in the comment sections. Fact check what you post. Be respectful to those with opposing views.
- Instagram offers a great place to share images and videos. It’s important to be mindful of the content you post. Try to post good-quality photos and videos. Avoid resharing others’ content without permission. Do not spam your followers’ feed with content that’s not on point with your intention.
- Snapchat is a fun way for youngsters to interact with each other, yet the platform has had some significant issues with privacy. Do not take screenshots or demand indecent pictures. Keep interactions light and friendly.
- Twitter is usually very current with trending topics and rapid-fire discussions. It’s easy to get carried away. Remember that tweets are easily accessible from your profile. Healthy debates are a great way to engage on the platform as long as you maintain respect while tweeting.
All social media sites have their own guidelines for engaging on their platform. These guidelines are to keep everyone safe and allow for fun interactions. It’s good practice to read up on usage and rules before using them. Some short video platforms like Rizzle have done away with comment sections in order to curb negativity.
Do’s and Don’t’s on Social Media
Here are some directions for social media interactions:
- Don’t be conceited:
It’s natural to feel proud of your accomplishments, but no one likes a brag.
- Mind the aesthetics:
Create visually appealing content that performs better. Hence, make sure that your content catches their eye.
- Be consistent:
Consistency is key. Don’t lose the critical messaging among frivolities.
- Be regular:
Regular posting is the way to staying relevant. So work with the algorithm.
- Be honest:
Authenticity is what draws people to your content. Don’t lie to your followers.
- Keep it short and simple:
No one likes to read huge chunks of text. No matter what the platform, get the messaging out concisely.
Don’t forget the sole reason you’re on social media. Hence, it’s vital that you respond promptly to comments and posts tagging you.
- Take the criticism:
You may not like every comment directed at you. However, you can always look for ways to turn them into an improvement. You’ll be better for it.
- Be ethical:
You should only post your content or that for which you have the right to post. Don’t steal content.
Social media is designed to keep you hooked on it every day. But, how you choose to interact with others will dictate your experience. Social media etiquette is based on respect. So, remember to follow them when you venture online next.
We hope you enjoyed this dive into the world of social media. And learned a bit about the rules that govern its usage. Feel free to share this article with your friends and family.