The do’s and don’t on Facebook etiquette

People on Facebook
Facebook is a social network that many of us use every day. This is how we connect with friends, family, and in some cases, how people conduct business and networking. People use Facebook for different purposes and they are all legitimate. However, with every cultural trend, comes rules. Because people use Facebook with different levels of frequency and purposes, not everyone is aware of Facebook etiquette. I thought I would discuss some of the basics.

Things you should not do

Don’t post too frequently

If you are updating your status every hour, your friends might feel you are clogging their feed. They’ll simply hide your posts. Don’t do it.

It’s not all about you

When you comment on someone else’s wall, be mindful that it is their wall, not your own.  Keep it on topic and about them. Don’t make it about you. It comes off intrusive, and heavy-handed and gives others a poor impression of you. If you want it to be about you, post it on your own wall, that’s what it is for.

Keep it private

As much as you may have exhibitionist tendencies and want everyone to know your most intimate secrets, others may not share that inclination.  Avoid holding private conversations on your friend’s page or even on your own.  Be aware that what seem innocuous to you, may be information that your friend prefers to keep private between you and them.  Allow them to chose what is shared about them, don’t make the choice for them. Use the “Message” or “Chat” function instead.

Post chain status updates

This is my pet-peeve.  It is often some iteration of prove you read my status updates, or prove that you are a good person and you support this cause.  Perhaps I am a rebel, but I go out of my way to NOT respond to these things. While these things may be based on good intentions, if everyone followed suit, your entire newsfeed would be filled with the same status update. Instead of spreading a positive idea, you have associated a great cause with something annoying.  I want to read about what’s happening in your life, and your original thoughts.

Event invites

Be mindful of where your friends are. Don’t invite your friend who lives in Hong Kong to your birthday bash in SoHo.  Do you really think they’ll make the overseas trip for your birthday? If you do, I think that requires at least a personal phone call from you.  Yes, we’re proud of you. No, please don’t invite me to your gig in Uzbekistan. I promise you, I won’t be attending!

Tag lightly

Many people are very careful about the things they chose to put on their wall. Before you tag someone in a photo or a new story or anything else, think about it twice. Does the content pertain to something private your friend has shared with you? Is this something your friend wants to share with friends, family, acquaintances? If it is simply an article of interest that you would like them to read, go ahead and tag them, but do so, in the comments.  That brings their attention to the article, without posting it on their timeline, hence broadcasting that information to all of their friends.

Save the bad stuff

Facebook is public by nature.  Some topics are best shared via telephone or face-to-face.

Call don’t post personal news

This goes beyond Facebook and social media. It’s simply social etiquette.  If you need to inform your friends or your family about some important and personal news, don’t declare it out in the public domain. Facebook is a social networking site; it’s supposed to be public. After having experienced the death of friends and family, I am a little mixed about this. My feeling is that you should wait till someone close to the dearly departed gives a social queue.  When it comes to other kinds of news, whether good or bad, Facebook is not a substitute for the type of communication that is shared through voice tones and body languages.

Don’t post embarrassing photos

Before you post or tag others in a photo, check the photo.  You look good in the photo, but how do they look? Would they be comfortable with the photo?  Would most people consider it a decent photo? If the answer is no, don’t post it.  Facebook shouldn’t be a place to embarrass your friends!  Don’t be offended if someone untags themselves. People in a photo might not object to its being online as long as their names are not associated with it.

Things you should do

Think before you post

Every post should be considered carefully. Everything you post should be of high-quality and of interest to others. Facebook is all about building and sharing relationships with others.  When you post, ask yourself if this is interesting or relevant to those who will see it.

Be mindful of what you post

Depending on who you have accepted as your friends on Facebook, your audience may be hundreds of people from all kinds of backgrounds, all with different jobs, beliefs, personalities, etc.  What may seem like a harmless update may be seen as a post targeted at someone specific. If you are posting something controversial, or that could reflect badly upon you, remember, Facebook is a semi-public space.  While illegal, employers do look up potential and current employees.  You wouldn’t want to post something that could get your fired, or gasp, arrested! It is your wall, and you should post about things that reflect who you are. Just be mindful of anything that could possibly be misinterpreted.

Notice what other people are posting

One of the great things about Facebook, is the ability for people to come together, almost like a public square and share their life with you.  It’s a very social sphere, but only when you participate. There are some people who post a great deal, but don’t spend time reciprocating. When was the last time you commented on someone else’s post?  Being a good friend means liking or commenting on a post when something clearly matters to your friend.  It takes only a few seconds to hit ‘like”.  Just do it. Be a generous person.  One last thing, don’t forget to wish happy birthday to friends, family, coworkers and acquaintances, (even if you’ve already said it to them in real life.

One last thing to remember.  What you chose to post, comment on, share and like reveals a lot about your personality, who you are, and your relationship with yourself. You may want to check out a study conducted at Brunei University London of 555 Facebook users on their posting habits conducted. After reading this, you may consider changing your posting habits.