Etiquette in the Age of Social Media

office pool I’m no Emily Post, but I have some things I want to share with you. Many come from my own experiences. Others come from thinking about how people might use the web in a less-than-polite way. In some cases, you might have a difference of opinion. Consider this a starting point, and not the final say. Please feel free to add your advice, disagree, and/or share your perspective. That’s why we’re all here.


Email Etiquette

  • Keep email as brief as possible. We all receive too many. Consider also removing excess people from follow up emails, if you started out with a huge CC list.
  • Upon sending an email, please allow up to 48 hours for a response. Yes, the web moves so very quickly, but not every email can be answered immediately.
  • Do NOT tweet, SMS, or otherwise send an immediate follow-up to say, “Did you get my email?” The answer is almost always yes. If it’s urgent, call.
  • If it’s urgent, use standard email, not Facebook email. We don’t all have super duper Facebook mobile apps.
  • Put the MOST IMPORTANT part at the top of the email, not the bottom. Again, we’re all doing a million things here. Make it easier.

Blogging Etiquette

  • If you’re blogging about someone else, link to them. It only takes a moment, and it’s how the Web was made to work.
  • If you read a great blog post, and don’t have time to comment, consider passing it along simply, using StumbleUpon, Delicious, Google Reader Shared Items, or Friendfeed, to name a few.
  • If you have time to comment, try to do better than “Great post.” If you can, add a few thoughts of your own, or recommend something the author didn’t cover.
  • If you leave a comment, in the name section, don’t put all kinds of attempted search words. Most blogs’ comment sections don’t get picked up by Google, so it just comes off seeming like you’re trying to game search.
  • It’s okay to comment about a post you wrote, and to leave a link, if it’s relevant. Just leaving a link to some random post you did- not so much.

Facebook Etiquette

  • Please don’t send every little app you try. If you’re not aware that you’re doing it, you probably still are. Be sure to click “no” or “skip” or whatever lets you not invite me to yet another little green patch, zombie biting experience, or buy my friends experience.
  • Don’t write obnoxious links back to your stuff on people’s walls. Use them to be human.
  • Starting multi-user messages in Facebook is tricky, because then almost every reply becomes a “reply all.” Think about that.
  • Consider who you tag in which photos. This shows up on the user’s profile as well, and can sometimes become a bit awkward.
  • Sending endless promotional emails via your group gets old quick. Be mindful of this.

Twitter Etiquette


Note: use Twitter however you want. These are just some serving suggestions.

  • Use an avatar. It lets us know you’re possibly human.
  • If you’re using Twitter only as a link feed, consider marking your “bio” section with that, so people can decide.
  • I’m personally not fond of long @ conversations. Not sure your take, but to me, something over 3 @ messages back and forth might be best suited in a DM or into email.
  • If you don’t have much to say, it’s okay not to say it.
  • An @ message at the beginning of a post shows up in replies. Further in, it doesn’t.
  • It’s okay to promote yourself. Just consider promoting some other folks, too. Mix it up a bit.
  • You’re not obligated to friend everyone back. Some people use Twitter differently.
  • Removing someone as a Twitter friend doesn’t (necessarily) reflect on how you feel on them as a person. It’s okay.
  • Don’t let other people tell you how to use Twitter. (Get it?)

Ultimately, your mileage may vary in all of these cases, but I wanted to get these thoughts out there, so that you could share your perspective, and so that we could talk about how the web and social media has changed the way we interact. What’s your take?

Photo credit, FoundPhotosLJ

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