The way you use social media to promote your company or your
professional side is very different from how most people act online when
engaging with friends and family. Unless your organization is directly
involved in politics, leave politics out of your business’s social media
discussions. Watch your language and be careful that you aren’t saying
anything, whether on purpose or accidentally, that may offend readers.
The last thing your company (and your career) needs is an angry Twitter,
or worse, Reddit, mob pointing out your mistake. Here are some
guidelines to help you avoid angering the online masses.

  1. I can’t say this enough: If you use a smartphone to manage your
    personal and business accounts, always, always, always double check what
    account you are posting under before you hit Send.
  2. Consider grammar
    when writing posts. Sure, it can be difficult to get a message across
    in 140 characters, but if you can’t make it legible, then Twitter isn’t
    the platform for you.
  3. If you’re in charge of the company’s social media, brush up on
    apostrophe use and word forms. They’re, there, and their do not mean the
    same thing.
  4. Take it easy with the #hashtags. When posting from business
    accounts, do a little research and figure out what hashtags are relevant
    to your audience. Capitalize the first letter in every word in long
    hashtags to increase legibility. #nobodywantstoreadamessyhashtag
  5. DO NOT use all capital letters. It is considered yelling, and,
    frankly, always has been. Everybody should know this by now. Don’t yell
    at your audience, or they will unfollow you in a hurry.
  6. You don’t have to follow everybody back, but follow as many of your followers that are relevant to your business.
  7. Impersonal, automatically generated direct messages are obnoxious.
  8. Don’t get too personal with individuals from your company’s
    accounts. Your business is not a friend, and it’s weird when a business
    tweets replies to personal stuff. How would you feel if you posted “Went
    out with the nicest woman last night” and a company tweeted “Did you
    walk her to the door?” in reply? It’s just… awkward. Engage with
    people; just remember that a business has no business in peoples’
    private lives.
  9. Take it easy with the punctuation. Not every sentence deserves an
    exclamation point! No sentence needs a bunch of exclamation points!!!
    You aren’t a teenage girl — you provide technology services. More
    exclamation marks do not make your message more interesting. Use
    punctuation wisely to ensure that your message isn’t lost to poor
    punctuation choices.
  10. Learn how to use appropriate abbreviations. When in doubt, Google
    it, because every platform has slightly different abbreviations and they
    evolve with the technology and society. Here are some of the most
    common for quick reference.

  • MT (Twitter): Modified tweet. Use this when quoting somebody else’s tweet if you change any part of their original message.
  • RT (Twitter): Retweet. Use this when quoting somebody else’s tweet if you don’t change any part of their original message.
  • PRT: Please retweet. This is asking for folks to retweet the message. Use it sparingly.
  • AFAIK: As far as I know.
  • FML: Forget (or another F-word) my life.
  • BTW: By the way.
  • IDK: I don’t know.
  • #FF (Twitter): Follow Friday. On Fridays, Twitter users use the #FF
    hashtag to recognize great people they think others should follow.
  • FWIW: For what it’s worth.
  • NSFW: Not suitable for work. This abbreviation indicates adult or explicit content.
  • SFW: Safe for work.
  • SMH: Shaking my head.
  • TT: Trending topic.
  • YOLO: You only live once.

If you don’t know what an abbreviation means, check it before retweeting a message with it or using it in your own messages. Twittonary
is a good resource for checking the meanings of abbreviations you see
on Twitter. Facebook offers more characters, so there’s little reason to
use abbreviations there or on LinkedIn.

Most of the etiquette rules are more easily followed when posting
from a computer, but being a social media manager often means working on
the go from a smartphone or tablet. Next month, we’ll discuss mobile
apps that make social media management easier.