While social media etiquette is still a very abstract and ambiguous concept at best, and preferences most certainly vary by demographic and from even person to person, there are some pretty standard things that are terrifically annoying and just typically aren’t a good idea on social media.
I’ll admit, I’ve been on social media since it was born with Myspace in 2004, and I got on Facebook in 2005, so I’ve been guilty of these missteps myself from time to time. However, having worked with social media as part of my job and business ventures these past few years, I’ve learned exactly what’s okay and what’s not.
My advice should be taken at face-value; the items on this list simply reflect my opinions and experiences.
1. You over-post. Facebook can be used to express our feelings and opinions, for sure. If it’s not overly-personal, post away. But limit yourself to a few times a day. If you have pictures to upload, do it all at once, not one at a time through your Instagram.
And for heaven’s sake: please don’t sync your twitter to your Facebook (especially if you’re a big tweeter/retweeter), because it causes what I refer to as “Newsfeed noise” that no one enjoys really enjoys seeing.
2. You like and comment on literally everything you see. I can’t tell you how much this makes me want to un-friend someone. If you have solid feedback or a great comment, please leave it on the post, but every time I log in or pick up my phone, I really don’t want to see that you’ve commented for the 30th post in a row.
The same goes for liking. If it resonates with you, you’re genuinely glad for the person, or you think it’s actually funny, like away. But chances are if you’re liking everything that’s in your newsfeed posted by your friends, it’s reflecting your own inability to think and act for yourself.
3. You don’t post anything original. Incessant memes, Some E-cards, a celebrity’s good deed, news stories and other shared posts all have their own place, but if you don’t have any of your own ideas going up with all the rest of that, it again appears that you’re not able to think for yourself.
4. You’re obsessive over your significant other. When I see frequent kissing selfies, mushy “I love you more than grilled cheese sandwiches” and consistent “My husband is the best!” posts, it gets old.
Even worse is the couple who is all-too-frequently “on again, off again” and updates their relationship status every time they get back together, only to break up again the following week, swearing up and down that they’re “Never, ever, ever getting back together. Whether or not you choose to put your relationship status on Facebook is entirely up to you, but don’t use it to get attention that your not getting from your relationship.
5. You post cryptic, attention-seeking updates. We’ve all seen it:
“I’m just done!”
“I can’t even anymore.”
“Fake people make me so angry. Goodbye, $%*&!!!”
This is not adult communication. Especially if you’re talking about something or someone who’s caused you heartache, “Vaguebooking” is not the right way express this. If you want sympathy and it’s not overly-personal or bullying, post what the actual issue is and solicit feedback.
6. You try to turn Facebook into your therapist. However, airing your dirty laundry is not adult communication, either. If you’re currently struggling coping with something serious, pick up the phone and call someone you know cares or who at least will listen. They’ll likely respond in a caring way, rather than rolling their eyes and moving on.
Moreover, if you’re posting things like “I wish I was dead,” if you’re actually struggling with suicidal thoughts, it could be dismissed by those on your facebook as an attention ploy. Things like this are serious and should be dealt with in tight family circles and by professionals who can help.
7. You sign your name on your posts and comments. This one goes to all you baby boomers out there. We know it’s you: you have a profile with your name and picture. This isn’t an email; think of this as a conversation.
Equally as horrifying is commenting on a status or post with no regard to the subject matter. “Hi Billy, Hope you’re doing well! Just wanted to check in and see what time you’ll be by on Saturday? Love, Aunt Jo.” Think of this as butting into a conversation without regard to what the people around you are saying.
8. You misspell someone’s name. This is as offensive as it is silly. Their name is RIGHT THERE, on the profile you’re interacting with. If someone can’t take time to spell my name carefully (such as Denis or Danis or Denise), then I know they clearly don’t care about me, my life, or the so-called “friendship” that we’re claiming to have.
9. You constantly post about your multi-level marketing scheme, your summer sales job or your business you own. I will never knock someone for being able to make some extra money or especially a good income through their own efforts and sales. But if you’re always posting from your personal profile about it, messaging your friends to join you and advocating it every other post, it gets annoying and people are more likely to tune out.
Instead, make your own like page- and learn how to effectively put money behind so that the right people can see and engage with your posts and hopefully buy your product or service.
10. You post too many gym pics and statuses. Yes, you work out. Yes, we know. No, we don’t particularly enjoy knowing every time you’re “getting your grind on” or downing that protein shake.
Posts like this appear cocky, arrogant and holier-than-thou. Lay off, bro. We get it.
11. You check in too frequently at your favorite coffee shop. There’s nothing wrong with the occasional checking, especially if they require it to access the internet. We just don’t want to see it every day.
12. You troll your friends’ statuses who disagree with your political or religious views. At this point, nearly every politician and mainstream religion is using social media to make their messages heard. This is actually pretty effective, given their campaigns are designed well and they have a good following. If your views align with theirs, there is nothing wrong with simply sharing something that resonates with you (but please make sure it’s accurate and has data to back it up, if it’s making a claim).
There’s also nothing wrong with a good, healthy debate. But using this platform to inundate us all with your beliefs won’t change anyone’s views. Those kinds of changes are made in the classroom and by reading books, not memes and articles.
13. You put your private matters on blast. Spousal arguments, financial problems, and your kid’s bad grades all fall in this category, along with many others. Again, making FB your therapist is an annoying attention ploy that people don’t want to see.
14. You post way, way, way too many selfies. We all post the occasional one. But if you’re taking a zillion pictures, please, take it to Snapchat, where people are actually expecting to see that.
15. You have a joint account with your significant other. This is perhaps the worst thing I see. It’s inconvenient for most of your friends, it looks unprofessional to employers, and we can’t even figure out whose birthday it really is!
This is what the relationship status is for! I love that my profile says that I’m married to Jessica, and for us, it shows that we’re equal but different people.
Bonus: “Copy and paste so that ____ will or won’t happen!” scams. I have to take my hat off to whoever comes up with these silly posts that seem to circulate every several months, or so. The most popular posts are actually searched by hackers, and they will then attempt to break into your account. If your password is weak, this makes your profile a very easy target.