In recent times, hardly have we had a week gone by without a major online dispute that will feed the rapacious appetite of Entertainment and Lifestyle writers like a 7-Course Meal! Last week was a case in point. It was inundated with a barrage of Social Media Dramas.
If I didn’t have a good understanding of what the book, “One-Week-One-Trouble”was all about in my school days, I honestly now do! Last week could certainly inspire the title and perhaps content of another literary piece because it had more than one trouble in one week!
I could not help but give a thought to what could be the major factor that has led to the increase in Internet or Cyber Fights or Bullying that has been cloaked by more palatable and fancy names like Trolls, Clap backs, Savage and other nomenclatures I may not even know! One major reason I arrived at is, Inappropriate Behaviors on Social Media!
Using social media in the right way is both an art and a science. And yes, there’s an appropriate way of doing it, whilst keeping in mind your personality, personal brand, business and customers.
To greatly reduce being trolled or you trolling others, here are 10 social media etiquette, if you like, 10 COMMANDMENTS you need to observe to avoid mistakes that could costs you some serious embarrassment.
1. SHARE WITH SENSE: Use common sense when you share, bearing in mind that what you post becomes a representation of you and/or your business in the social media landscape. Don’t hide behind the comfort of your phone or computer to talk thrash because you would just be diminishing your brand – business or personal. When you come across a post, READ Well, DIGEST what you have read, PROCESS it in your head, CAPTURE it in your mind, before you begin to type a response. And after typing your comment, READ IT OUT TO YOURSELF FIRST. LISTEN to yourself, then ask yourself, “does this thing I have just read out sound sensible”? “If my children born and unborn read this, will they be proud of me”? “Will this comment make me look foolish?” Can I say this to this person if I meet him or her face-to-face? Only when you have answered these questions truthfully and honestly before you click on send! Never forget that whatever you publish on the internet could be there for a long time, even if you delete it seconds after you’ve posted. They be replicated and shared beyond the original intended audience and sent to people you never expected to see it, or who may view it out of context. So always think before you post!
2. WATCH THAT COMMENT: Try to have accurate information or knowledge of the discussion at hand before giving out a public opinion Don’t forget the old saying: “If you don’t have anything nice (and perhaps accurate) to say don’t say anything at all.” The truth is, YOU MUSTN’T ALWAYS HAVE AN OPINION! Do you know that it is very okay and legal to read something on social media that you don’t agree with, yet you move on quietly with your life without dropping any comment? Trust me it is not weakness but the highest form of maturity!
3. AVOID SENSITIVE/CONTROVERSIAL OPINIONS. While everyone has the right to personal convictions on hot issues like religion or politics, harping on them on daily basis on your social media page may be foolhardy as it sets you up as a fertile ground for trolls. As much as you can, avoid sharing emotionally, religiously or politically charged statements. Yes, once in a while you could express your opinion on burning issues around this but if have some strong positions that you feel must be heard, you may want to consider doing a blog post or writing for a newspaper column.
4. KEEP RELATIONSHIP OR PERSONAL DRAMA PRIVATE – Posted private chats either between customers, friends or partners in a marriage or Relationship is most unnecessary. How were we resolving issues before Social Media again??? You bring your issues to Social Media and getting the bashing of your life from people that would never dare speak to you rudely in a real life situation. And after all the brouhaha, the matter still remains unresolved. Meanwhile, there are Arbitration and Mediation Courts that could have resolved the issues for you quietly and you get your desired results. Before you post that chats, please think, if someone should pull them up in another 5 or 10 years, how will it impact your status at that time?
5.DON’T USE IT AS A PERSONAL DIARY. “This is what I am wearing today” “This is what I am having for breakfast” “I will make love at 9:00pm tonight” “I am going to do make my hair tomorrow”. “I think I’m coming down with malaria”. Are you bored yet? The entire social media citizens do not need to know about every single facet of your daily life, please! Occasionally sharing some personal stuff is fine but for the love of God, don’t share EVERYTHING with your readers. This is a thriving soil for a troll’s rich harvest! Keep your posts simple, engaging, RELEVANT and interesting.
6. PRAISE IN PUBLIC, CRITICIZE IN PRIVATE – If you must comment on someone else’s post it has to be something good or positive. No negative vibes. If you feel the inclination to offer a strong opinion, then please do it constructively so it enlightens and does not insult others. But if you have something negative, please take it to a private/direct message or Inbox. I bet you would appreciate if someone does samefor you!
7. YOU ARE NOT THE CENTRE OF THE UNIVERSE: It is called SOCIAL media for a reason. It is a tool for socializing and relating with others. It isn’t a monologue. It is a conversation platform. Your Social Media page is not your Family Album. So don’t make your page full of your selfies and selfiesalone! Share thought, ideas, information, inspiration and anything else that can engage your followers. All your post should not be about you. Start socializing already…start engaging! Also, avoid bragging or showing off. As much as you can, try not to make it your mission to leave your followers with FOMO. Don’t join the “Pepper them gang”. This has resulted in depression for many and some suicide! Because they see things on Social Media and they just conclude their own life is just a mess! For your own good too beware of showing off too much because if you brag too much you could upset people and perhaps even attract Robbers and kidnappers to yourself. And of course trolls would be sure to have a field day with you because you would have amassed enough haters!
8.YOUR SENSE OF HUMOR ISN’T UNIVERSAL – Always remember that your post will reach far beyond your friends, family or people of same background or like minds. So what might be funny to you and others in your circle may not be funny to others outside your circle. In fact they may find it utterly offensive. So you really need to be careful. Always think about how others could interpret your humor. I am not saying avoid humor in your posts, but make appropriate. Post that is laced with tribal, racial or gender bias may set you up for a backlash.
9.ACKNOWLEDGE COMMENTS:Our Celebrities are often accused of ignoring positive comments but coming after negative comments for a clap back! So when a troll need a celebrity’s attention they spew some nauseating comments to get the celeb to react, and they often do. Ignoring comments or question is not a polite way of appreciating someone who has taken their time to pay you a compliment. Without fans, there is no celeb!
Many would not even acknowledge a birthday post you put up for them. These have resulted in some followers getting bitter and resorting to trolling. Please dear celebrity; be humble enough to acknowledge comments. The response does not have to be elaborate. It can be as simple as a ‘thank you’ while acknowledging their name. Whenever someone takes time out of their day to leave a comment, it should be appreciated. Sometimes simply dropping emojis, liking, favoriting, or retweeting is all that is needed to let your followers know that you appreciate them. A thumbs up can go a long way!
Yes, we know you all are very busy people and it might be impossible to reply to every single comment you receive but whenever possible, it’s important to try to respond to as many as you can.
10. DEALING WITH NEGATIVE COMMENTS – If Jesus was on Social Media I am pretty sure how will have trolls going by the rate of negativity on social media. Many don’t ever see any good in what anyone is does or says. There is always a cause for bashing. This is the reason many have decided to put their accounts on private setting. While you can’t always get away from negativity, you can at least manage it better. The first, and easiest, option is to simply not respond. Do not dignify negative comments with a response thereby making stupid people popular! You honestly don’t need to engage. This doesn’t make you weak or small. It actually makes you the bigger person and the matured one.
Always remember that at the end of the day, no one wants to know who started the fight, responding to negativity could equally earn you a reputation as bad as that of your troll. This kind of reputation could even affect your job if you are an employee or your business if you are an entrepreneur.
These rules of social media etiquette are not cast on stone neither will anyone penalize you or chastise you for breaking any of them, but if you follow them consistently, you sure will stay out of Social Media dramas, maintain a credible reputation and remain almost invincible to trolls.
So before you take any action on social media, think carefully, think through it in view of these aforementioned etiquette. This tool has tremendous power, so it’s important to follow best practices as discussed like avoiding extensive self-promotion, maintaining a respectful sense of humor, avoiding controversial topics and relationship dramas. It is also critical to think about the effects your words, pictures and videos you share with thousands if not millions of people. Never forget that digital Citizens neither forgive nor forget!
Finally, don’t put anything on the Internet that you won’t be comfortable to have your future or present boss, spouse, children, Pastor, client or business partners read.
Remember some employers and embassies now profile people via their social media pages. You don’t want to miss a lifetime opportunity because of something mundane you carelessly threw out there on your social media page.
You know what they say about first impressions: The more positive and helpful the content that surfaces when others take the time to research you is, the better their initial takeaway on you will be.
As you navigate this beautiful world of social media, never lose sight of the fact that the Internet never forgets!