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Social Networking Netiquette

Posted on the 10 February 2012 by Combi31 @combi31

Social networking netiquette

I can’t claim to be an expert on Twitter nor social networking, I run a social network and an alternative Twitter and I have been a member of various social networks for the last five years.

I came to Twitter relatively late, joining in July 2009 and have surely broke all of the golden rules – but that’s learning, isn’t it?

Another part of the learning process is the indulgence and accptance of other newbies, mistakes as they feel their feet on social networking sites.

I have found the Twitter experience to be a really surprising one, I didn’t expect it to be anything like I have lived it thus far. The facility in making, at least virtual, close friends is pretty amazing – it really IS a social network. My own social network, is nothing like this, but as it is based in France, perhaps it is also different in terms of the cultural differences – time will tell on this one, but I must say that to get people active is a really uphill struggle.

The ‘blame’ for this I put squarely at my door – I need to find the recipe or the magic wand to get it going and then, hopefully, kinetic energy will take it forward.

The following are some “Golden Rules” that I have gleaned from both personal experience and from reading more expert social networking people than myself.


When you are signed up to a social network, the basic idea is to be social – show a face or a picture which could be linked with an interest, hobby or business. There is nothing worse that looking at a standard green or black, egg avatar – it doesn’t encourage confidence nor the desire to communicate with a person who you cannot see. If you are buying or selling then you are more likely to buy from someone you like – on a social network, people are more likely to communicate with people they like the look of. That doesn’t mean that you need to be a catwalk model, but a nice smile or a clear photo goes a long way to encouraging people to want to socialise with you.


The next port of call for people who are looking to connect and socialise with others is the biography or bio. People look to connect with either people that they find interesting or that share similar interests with themselves. It is also a good idea to include your geographical location, that doesn’t mean you have to include your street name and door number, just a town/ city or region is usually enough – if later you want to tell people exactly where you are from – that’s your choice. People who write their location as “the world” or other equally obscure locations have the right to not disclose their whereabouts but can sometimes be a turn-off to the true social networkers. The same can be said for the bio, if you don’t want to give a bio to the world, OK, but a few enticing titbits can illustrate something about you – as can an empty bio!


It is totally normal that there are certain bits of information that we share on social networking sites that we may not want to share with the world. This said, there are ways of protecting privacy of your messages between certain people, thats what PMs on social sites or DMs on Twitter are for. Protecting everything is a bit counter-productive – it makes people suspicious of what you are hiding or it could make people do the same and turn right around at your door. A bit like holding a dinner party and taking half the guests away and shutting them in a separate room – weird!


Unless you are a grade A celebrity being followed by hordes of fans and minions, it would seem slightly strange to see a profile with say, 1,000 followers and 0 tweets, and believe me there are hundreds of them on Twitter. Then again, why would a grade A celebrity want to be followed on Twitter by lots of people if they don’t connect in any way – I’ll let you know the answer to that one when I’m famous … I, perhaps in my naïveté think straight away that it is a sign of a spammer – I could be wrong or I could be right – one thing I am sure about is that I don’t follow these accounts. Once again we are talking about a social network, where being social is part of the prerequisites, an account with zero updates doesn’t exactly smack of anything social. Imagine going to a party where a person was surrounded by lots of people chatting away to them whilst they didn’t give a single word in reply – again, weird.


Social networks are by definition, very addictive – people go there to socialise and this takes time. However, as with all good things, it needs to used with limits. There is no rule to the limits, it just depends on what you are doing. nevertheless there are people claiming to be making millions through sites such as Twitter who appear to tweet 24/7. There are others who claim to be totally overran with work but who also appear to spend a great part of their life on the site. There are also others who use various methods to automate tweets so that they are sent out continuously – this is often easy to detect and doesn’t do much for the confidence in the person that does this – it’s more of a machine than a person and who wants to talk to a machine?


If people take the trouble to follow you, they have generally done this for a reason. Not following back is a bit like turning your back on someone at a party and ignoring them. Accounts with thousands of followers and only a handful of people they follow can lead to the perception of being slightly aloof or at least as being a bit exclusive – most of these accounts do not reply to tweets either, in my experience.


There are a great deal of, what I call scammers on Twitter. People who want to rapidly build a huge following for whatever reason, who then get each person following them back only to unfollow as soon as they are followed. Some of this could be due to the limitations that Twitter puts on the ration of followers to followed, it can also be due to the latter. I have been followed and unfollowed four or five times from some accounts – what did I do? I just unfollowed definitively and blocked the account – I personally don’t want people like that following me.


I may be a purist here, but it was one of the things that I was loathe to join Twitter for – the famous 140 characters. I’m not really a prude but I don’t like to see tweets that have the following :”I is D 1 2 C U if U iz Up 2 it” It really gets me. On the other hand, a tweet that displays clear and concise ideas within the 140 characters is admirable. Now, I don’t mean stop the “LOL”, “LMAO” or the “PMSL” that is acceptable code, or Bill Bailey inspired “ROTFLOLWSMMTT” (Rolling on the floor laughing out loud whilst still miraculously managing to tweet) – LOL!


Using the good, open nature of people who use Twitter and other social networking sites to build a list of people to flood with spam is, to say the least, reprehensible. As a Twitter member we can block and report people that do this, in my opinion they should be thrown off of the social network they are preying on. As Aleksandra states in her blog on a similar subject, “You wouldn’t go up to people at a party and start yelling in their face to go and check a link for a once in a lifetime deal” – well you wouldn’t would you.


When people follow or comment on your tweets, at least thank them, but do it by DM, you don’t need to go public on this. If someone writes a tweet that interests you, gets you thinking or questioning, then thank them and send them a comment but always being gracious. If you don’t agree, OK but be constructive and if you must criticize, don’t forget that it is the opinion and not the person that you are criticising. Offer help or respond to people asking for help – you never know when you may need help.


There are scores of people who endlessly retweet nothing but names. Why on earth they do this is beyond comprehension, it is so transparent, they retweet a list of names and ensure that their name is within the list. OK, we all do an RT or two on #FollowFridays but that usually stops there. This doesn’t stop the serial retweeters – So we see it the first time and read the names, a second time a cursory glance and after that it gets a bit tiresome. It’s just another form os spam – and we all know what we think about that, don’t we!

Can you add to these golden rules – perhaps you have others that you feel are important please leave a comment

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Social networking netiquette
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