Social Media and Manners

By now we’ve covered all the big basics of creating our online identity. We learned about using our name instead of a nickname. We know about the bigger platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Blogs and LinkedIn) and we’ve learned how to manage all the accounts we’ve created.

Now that our online identities are established and kicking, we need to be sure we are adhering to netiquette.

Netiquette is just a made up word that combines “net” (as in internet) and “etiquette”. Just as etiquette dictate our manners in public or at the dinner table, netiquette dictates our manners online.

For the most part, how we act online shouldn’t be too differently from how we act in real life. After all, our online identity is about selling ourselves — and people can almost always spot a fake. However, because we’re online, there are a few things we should be aware of.

Mostly, netiquette boils down to two big factors: common sense and communication.

Common Sense

This almost goes without saying, but at the same time, there are plenty of people online who seem to ignore common sense altogether.

Common sense online is just like common sense in real life. The old adage our mothers used to tell us, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all,” is great advice to in our everyday lives, both real and online.

If someone on our Facebook page or Twitter stream says something we don’t agree with, do not get verbally ugly — ignore it.

Use common sense! We are not going to agree with what everyone online says, likewise, not everyone online is going to agree with our thoughts.

If someone comments on our blog with something we don’t agree with, you have two options. One, politely thank them for their opinion and move on. Two, ignore it and move on.

And for goodness sake, do not comment on a blog with ugly negativity. There are plenty of examples of authors who have responded badly to something on a blog or have written a blog without thinking. The episode tends to blow up and go viral — it’s everywhere online all at once.

If you write this bad blog, always assume that people have seen it. You have several options at this point:

  1. Delete the post and replace it with an honest apology. “Please excuse me for my recent blog post (it has since been deleted). I wrote it in haste and from an angry place and I should not have done so….etc.”
  2. Leave the post, close the comments and direct readers to a post with your honest apology.
  3. If the page goes viral without you knowing and you come back to hundreds of angry responses, write an honest apology and splash it everywhere.
  4. Ignore everything, assume everyone is wrong and you are right and never enjoy the career as an author you dreamed of.


The second big netiquette rule is communication.

Remember, our online identities are not only ways for us to sell ourselves to potential readers, but it is away for us to communicate with them as well.

Everything we post online, whether it is on Facebook, Twitter or is written in a blog post, is our way of communicating with our audience. Anywhere we build an online identity allows for two-way communication. People can comment on our blogs and Facebook pages. They can retweet and reply to us on Twitter (and remember, Twitter is a global conversation — it’s all about communication).

Sometimes, though, our excitement at communicating borders into annoyance and we need to learn to reign our excitement in or we’re going to loss our audience.


Personally, I don’t have a lot of pet peeves on Facebook. On my personal Facebook I have a few pet peeves, but as far as my page goes, I don’t have any.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some pet peeves on Facebook. Among some I can think of are:

  • Tagging – Facebook allows you to tag people in status updates and notes. This is great — it allows others to know you are talking of them and hopefully they will return the favor — but be wary, if you are tagging the same people over and over, they might not appreciate the flooding of your posts on their wall.
  • SolicitingThis is a big no-no. Never (unless you get permission) solicit your story/novel on another author’s page. If another author decides they want to share your work on their page, they will. You have your own page for selling your work, just as they have theirs.
  • Begging – Just as you should not sell your work on someone’s page, you should not go to their page and ask/beg to read their work. Don’t ask for advance reading copies or free copies. Express your excitement about their upcoming novel (but don’t overdo it), and leave it at that. If they want to, they’ll send you copy — but don’t assume you’ll get one. They’re trying to make money off of their book just as you want to make money off of yours. Doing this is a pretty easy way to get banned from someone’s page.
  • Pictures – Don’t post pictures on someone’s page without their consent. Just like tagging, some people do not like it. It’s best to send a quick message and wait for a response before tagging someone in a photo that will appear on their page. I don’t think many people have a problem with this, but it’s always good to ask. Also, let’s not post incriminating pictures…


There are quite a few pet peeves when it comes to Twitter. Cid did a great job listing some a few weeks ago. I’ll try to keep this list short, because a quick Google search on Twitter pet peeves will bring up lots of hits.

  • Excessive Retweeting — It’s fantastic that you are retweeting your friends and helping spread the word of their new book/blog post/joke/whatever. It’s not so fantastic, however, if all you do on Twitter is retweet. People follow you not the people you retweet. Retweet a few things here and there, but not everything.
  • Follow Friday, or #FF A common practice on Twitter is the Follow Friday (#FF). It’s nothing more than telling people who you like following and recommending others to follow them too. In theory this is a great idea. Two things though…One, tell people why they should follow someone. I follow knitters, writers, readers, authors, agents, etc. If I see a tweet like, “#FF @Name @Name2 @Name3” and I have no idea who those people are or what they do or why I should follow them, that tweet is ignored. Two, do not retweet a #FF tweet just because your name is in it or to say thank you. If you want to thank someone, reply to them personally. If you’re retweeting because your name is in — well, you’re dumb. People are already following you. The main reason I say this is because every Friday I have someone recommend me as a follow. Wonderful! But within ten minutes, every other person in that tweet has retweeted that follow. If you want to do a Follow Friday tweet, do your own
  • Asking people to follow you — Just because you follow someone does not mean they have to follow you or want to follow you. Don’t ask them to follow you. Engage them in conversation from time to time and eventually, if they want to, they will follow you.
  • Get off your soapbox — Common sense again. Twitter is not your soapbox. People do not want to see 15-20 tweets from you in rapid fire. If you can’t say it in one or two tweets, take it to a blog post. Likewise, authors — please stop posting snippets/teasers of your book on Twitter. I love getting the teasers, but I don’t love 30 tweets to read it. Post the teaser on your blog and link that on Twitter.

Like I said, Cid lists more Twitter pet peeves and Google searching will bring up a lot more.


There’s only one bit of advice I can give you for LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a social networking site for professionals. It is different from Facebook and Twitter. Facebook and Twitter can be professional and personal, LinkedIn should only be professional.

You can link your Twitter to post to LinkedIn, but I wouldn’t recommend it. I recommend choosing the setting that updates your LinkedIn account only if your tweet incorporates the #in hashtag. You only want professional statements going to LinkedIn.


Everyone’s blog/website is different, and so are people’s blogging pet peeves. Still, there are some general guidelines to follow (or avoid) when it comes to promoting your blog and writing on another person’s blog.

  1. Over promotion – It’s fine that you want to tell people about your latest blog post, but limit yourself. Promoting every hour on the hour is overkill. Three to four times a day is sufficient. Morning, Lunch and Evening.
  2. Promoting on another blogNever promote yourself on someone’s blog. If you have a comment to someone’s post, leave it. Most blogs have the option to link your site/blog to your name. That’s all you need to do. Never leave a comment that’s blatantly or shamelessly promoting your site/blog/book. That’s just rude.
  3. Negativity – Going back to common sense, don’t leave ugly comments on another person’s blog. If you disagree with them, do so respectfully or decline to comment at all.

Google searching will bring up tons of netiquette sites that go into greater detail than I do, as well. Do a little homework and remember the two biggest rules for netiquette: common sense and communication. You’ll go along way and keep followers for a long, long time if you do.

What are some of your online pet peeves?


PS: I apologize for this post not going up yesterday. WordPress was acting wonky…

2 responses

  1. You said that very well. Thank you!

    April 23, 2011 at 12:29 am

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