Social Media Etiquette: Are There Rules?

Social Media Shenanigans Denver, COLast week, I attended Social Media Shenanigans 2, an uproarious gathering in Denver, CO that included a bevy of beautiful people from Colorado and beyond. And when I say beautiful, I don’t mean physical beauty. Yes, there were some “lookers” there, but the beauty I’m referring to is deep within. All the peeps I knew there, as well as those I met for the first time, each have caring and giving hearts.

I think that’s one characteristic that makes for “good” social networkers. I put good in quotes because in the last week, I’ve had two colleagues reach out to me about a social media challenge they encountered. What they’ve been doing online was “good” in their minds. However, a couple of others saw it differently.

So are there rules for social media etiquette? There’s no hard and fast rule book. However, when asked about what it takes to be a “good marketer” (online and off), one thing I mentioned and I heard more than once during interviews being held at Social Media Shenanigans (it was being streamed live) was “be yourself,” “be genuine,” “be authentic.”

In the case of my first colleague, she was being herself and believed she was doing the right thing. She created a post based on a concept she saw a “friend” posting and she gave credit to that person for the concept.

It backlashed on her, she got irrate private messages from the “friend” and she was distraught about what she did wrong. She even asked that person to help her, teach her not only what he felt she did incorrectly, but what he thought would have been “right.” Apparently, he didn’t want any part of it and after several back and forth messages, unfriended her.

She was hurt, confused and frustrated. She admitted she had things to learn when it comes to social media marketing, but her post was not done maliciously. The good news? Now she’s on a mission to understand the intricacies and etiquette of social networking better.

My second colleague also received a private message from someone she thought was a friend (she’s actually known him for several years). He said some things that were hurtful and made her feel “less than.” There wasn’t anything constructive in his comments to her and therefore, probably would have been better left unsaid.

Why do people behave this way? Maybe that’s their nature and when we say “be yourself,” they’re just doing that. However, when your actions hurt other people it may be time to look within yourself and see who you truly are.

So are there rules for social media? In addition to “be yourself,” I’d say “be kind.” Have good intentions and treat others as you would want to be treated.
Social Media Etiquette Dr. Seuss Quotes

“Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.” ~Dr. Seuss

What do you think? When you get online, are there “rules” you follow? Please share your thoughts below because I’d love to hear from you. Thanks and here’s to your sweet success.

Debra Jason

Marketing & writing with heart, not hype at at The Write Direction
A recipient of the “Creative Person of the Year” award, Debra educates and empowers creative solopreneurs and enthusiastic business owners to create a lifestyle business that provides them with the flexibility, fun and freedom to do what they love. She also inspires you to communicate your marketing message in a way that captivates and converts your prospects into loyal, raving fans - even if you have been struggling with how to transform your ideas into words in the past.


  1. There is no tougher pain to get over than that of a friend/loved one scorning you. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, and sometimes you don’t even know what you’re doing is offensive until after it’s done. My personal policy is to really listen to my gut. If there is ever the slightest question about posting or not, I will stop, ask permission first or just not post at all. Totally agree with your position to “be kind”. The whole “keepin’ it real” thing can be overstated when you don’t have others’ feelings in mind.
    Tanya Smith recently posted…It’s Called Social Networking For a ReasonMy Profile

    • Tanya, in the first instance, I think my colleague didn’t even question what she was doing as she felt she was giving credit where credit was due. However, it backfired on her. She was “keepin’ it real.” I do agree that it’s always important to keep other peoples’ feelings in mind – on social networks as well as in life, in general.
      Debra Jason recently posted…How Did Little ‘Ol Me Achieve a Social Reach of More Than 1.4 Million?My Profile

    • Tanya, I sure did enjoy your comment. I’m also a social media newbie and my comment for you is how to handle the situations when you are so new that you don’t even know what you are doing should be questionable. I guess I just have to hope the community at large has some patience and understanding.
      I sure do learn a lot by asking questions and have found folks like Debra Jason have been so amazingly helpful just to post one line answers to help me learn.
      It’s a new world but I am truly enjoying my path; mistakes and all.

  2. Everyone has their own set of unwritten rules, but in this case it seems the guy was immature. If he was truly offended and wanted to preserve the friendship, then he should have continued the dialog.
    Scott recently posted…Incontinence is No JokeMy Profile

  3. Yes there are no one set of rules that serve as social media etiquette. People seem to write and post all that comes in their daisy thoughts! being kind and polite are basic mannerisms everyone must portray. Agreed on that 🙂
    Divya Nanda recently posted…Short Superb StoriesMy Profile

  4. Very good content Deborah. One can be the best marketer and self-promoter on the Planet yet if you don’t know how to treat people and just “be nice,” all you are is a good marketer. (My opinion)

  5. Each and every day brings new social media learning. Reading your blog, Debra, reminds me to be patient, be kind, and be helpful in ALL I do. Your blog said to “be yourself” and those are traits I do try to live each and every day, so I do have peace that I am being myself. I have to have thicker skin when not everyone chooses kindness over criticism. Life is short and we all have our paths. Some paths are bordered with thorns and some with roses, it seems.
    I really like the Dr. Seuss quote. He was a one of a kind gem.
    Thank you for your kindness and your teachings.
    Have a day that sparkles from start to end.
    #teaching #social media #relationships
    Marcia Reece recently posted…Welcome to Our New WebsiteMy Profile

    • Thanks Marcia. Gratefully, it hasn’t happened often, but I do remember a situation (or two) when something I said (not on social media, I had written a letter) was taken the wrong way. It broke my heart and I wrote an apology. With all this technology (social networking, email, texts) it can be hard to read the tone of what’s in a message and sometimes I think that can lead to misunderstandings. In situations like that, efore I jump to conclusions, I remind myself of that.
      I appreciate your kind words. There is always something new to learn.
      I have a Pinterest board of Dr. Seussisms because he has many profound sayings. And I quoted him a few times in my book.
      Thanks again.
      Debra Jason recently posted…How Did Little ‘Ol Me Achieve a Social Reach of More Than 1.4 Million?My Profile

  6. Being authentic is important Debra and giving credit to others is equally important. Quite often, I’ll find something funny or poignant on a friend’s Wall and want to share it with the rest of my circle on Facebook. The etiquette I follow is to firstly Like and Comment on the friend’s post and declare I am swiping and then share to my personal Wall or Fan Page with a comment including an attribute and a thanks. To date, nobody has minded it. If anything, they have posted a ‘most welcome’ on my Wall and even found new friends in my circle who share a common interest.

    At the same time, sometimes people forget that they are on social media where others can see the dialogue and yet rant or bite over a post or message. Maybe they are having a bad day, who knows.

    If I am in the wrong, I’ll publicly apologize and take the dialogue to a more private place. If that doesn’t work, then bless and move on. 🙂

    • Hi Vatsala, I agree that any disagreements should be taken offline (and I know in at least one of the situations I mentioned, the discussion was via private message, not public).
      I think most people appreciate it when you share what they post, (especially when you acknowledge them as the source), that’s why the person in the first situation was caught so off guard. And she did apologize, but to no avail. So, as you suggested, she blessed that person and moved on.
      Thanks for your feedback.
      Debra Jason recently posted…How Did Little ‘Ol Me Achieve a Social Reach of More Than 1.4 Million?My Profile

  7. I try so hard to be polite and acknowledge those who share my messages by sharing theirs. It takes a tremendous amount of time because I write children’s books, so I’m very nervous I might mistakenly share something that includes erotica or excessive violence. I’ve learned to hate the “bots”, but it would be nice to have something to help lighten some of the load without constantly adding the robot moniker to my account. Therefore, I plod along, trying to do everything manually. I try to retweet or favorite something for everyone who shares my content. I’ve employed one robot to only issue a note of thanks to new followers.
    Peggy McAloon recently posted…Did You Help?My Profile


  1. […] Jason, D. (April 27, 2015). “Social Media Etiquette: Are There Rules?” The Write Direction. Retrieved from: […]

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