Most of us were taught the basics of social graces and etiquette as far back as kindergarten, but the rapid emergence of social media has come with a whole new set of ways to conduct oneself online.
LinkedIn, Twitter, MySpace, and Facebook are different communities that serve different purposes. The first is a handy professional tool, where it is okay to add colleagues, work acquaintances, and others who you may not know very personally but are in similar industries. Twitter is a great branding tool and an excellent medium for exchanging information, links, and dialogue in both the professional and personal realms.
Many use Facebook as a promotional tool (I do as well to some extent), but it's a lot more personal. While LinkedIn can be compared to a networking event held by the small business bureau, Facebook is my birthday party, where my inner circle comprises the guests.
That being said, here are my thoughts on social etiquette in the world of Facebook:
• Do not peruse my friends list and request adds to further your dating black book or social status. If you do find someone's avatar on my page that you find appealing, it is polite to ask for an introduction or give a heads up.
• Do not tag me on all of your forwards, thoughts du jour, and daily epiphanies. Think quality not quantity.
• Do not promote your party (DJ or political, for that matter), product, or service on my wall.
• When you are participating in a message thread, your reply will go to every person in that thread. Therefore, if you are communicating something that is not of value to all of the thread's participants, send a private message instead. I do not care that you said, "Thanks for the invite," and neither do the other 10 people on the list. "Reply-all-itis" applies to e-mails as well: before you press "Send," ask yourself if the information in your message will provide value to the recipients.
• If I have never accepted one of your Facebook party invites, I likely won't start now. Whether your party is "Throw Down Tuesdays" or "Sexy Back Saturdays," target your audience accordingly instead of spamming all.
• Don't be offended if I erase your wall post or comment. I like to keep a clean wall -- that's all.
• If I don't know you very well, or at all for that matter, attach a message to your friend request.
• Just because I accepted your friend request does not mean I want to online chat with you any time you please. Unfortunately, Facebook doesn't allow you to select which friends are on your chat list yet. If my response does not consist of more than "yup," "good," and "cool" (especially during office hours), then I am likely not ready to Facebook chat with you yet (or ever). Friendship grows and flows organically!
• Do not get my e-mail off of my info page and start spamming me.
• When your status is a constant sales message/pitch, people will either delete you or hide your status from showing up.
• If you've requested I join your group or "like" your page seven times, it means I have rejected the invite seven times. Permission marketing is about your audience opting in -- and trying to shove your product/service/brand down people's throats defeats the entire purpose. Please read some Seth Godin.
Okay, that's all. Happy Facebooking!