The Top Twelve Business Etiquette Tips for Social Media

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Woman sitting at an office deskThere is no doubt about it—social networking, or social media, is all the buzz. A report by Forrester’s Research indicates that 51% of online Americans have joined a social network.  Another 73% are consuming some form of social content on a regular basis.  People are connecting with, listening to, following and collaborating with each other online at an amazing rate.

Some people use it for personal reasons.  They share their recipes, their photos and their ideas to stay up to date with friends and family. Business people use social networking to build their careers, promote their business and grow their reputations.

The most popular social networking sites are Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Each one of those is uniquely positioned and serves a particular population or purpose.  There are other online networking sites, numbering in the thousands.

The purpose of this article is not to suggest which sites you should choose, but to offer you tips on the etiquette of social networking.  As with e-mail, cell phones, smart phones and other technological devices or technologically driven communication, we got the technology first, and we have backed into the rules for using it with courtesy and consideration.  In many cases we simply learned the rules the hard way, by making mistakes, embarrassing ourselves and offending others.

Currently I have my top twelve business etiquette tips for social media for the polished professional.  This list will, no doubt, grow with time.

#1. Fill out your online profiles completely with information about you and your business.  Use your real name and your own photo.  Your cat may be adorable, but unless you are a veterinarian specializing in the care of felines, don’t get cute.

#2. Use a different profile or account for your personal connections. Business and pleasure do not mix in this medium.

#3. Create a section on your main profile detailing who you are seeking to befriend. Everyone need not apply.

#4. Offer information of value. Don’t talk just about yourself and your company.

#5. Don’t approach strangers and ask them to be friends just so you can try to sell them on your products or services. You will quickly lose credibility and friends.

#6. Pick a screen name that represents you and your company well.  Don’t call yourself “Loser1” unless you want to be known by that.

#7. Don’t send out invitations to play games or other timewasters for those using the site.

#8. Don’t put anything on the Internet that you don’t want your future boss, current or potential clients to read.

#9. Check out the people who want to follow you or be your friend.  Your mother was right when she said that people will judge you by the company you keep.

#10. If someone does not want to be your friend, accept their decision gracefully.

#11. Never post when you’re overly-tired, jet lagged, intoxicated, angry or upset.

#12. Compose your posts, updates or tweets in a word processing document so you can check grammar and spelling before you send.

The world of online networking is new to most of us, but there is little difference in connecting with people online and offline.  The same basic tenets hold true. Trust and authenticity remain high on the list.

Happy Networking!

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Photo from Savannah magazine

Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.

Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions.  Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.

Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.

Contact her via email at or call 912-604-0080. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter and visit her website,

2 thoughts on “The Top Twelve Business Etiquette Tips for Social Media

  1. Tom Szabo

    OK, I have a slanted view of this post/issue. I’m a photographer and much of my business comes from professionals and executives who need head shots for business. Needless to say I’m not impressed with the people using LInkedIn and don’t use a photo of themselves for their profile OR crop out all of their friends from a group shot, but you still see someone’s hand on their shoulder. Do they really think they look professional?

    In addition, knowing I’m a photographer why would they ask to “friend” me under the same profile photo circumstances? Frankly I think it’s rude. Maybe it’s because I’m NOT a millennial?? Thoughts/comments?

    1. Lydia Ramsey Post author

      Tom, I would agree that most people who want to connect with others on LinkedIn are trying to sell you something. It is rarely a mutually beneficial relationship. And yes, it is unprofessional to create a LinkedIn account without a photo.


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