Online Faux Pas: An Etiquette Guide to Social Media Management

I am sure that you have seen many of the news outlets discussing social media missteps. These stories are often cautionary tales of individuals who took it way too far and were fired, disciplined and/or publicly humilated for their indiscretion. There is a way to stay out of the muck of online fax pas and that is to abide by social media etiquette. It’s not openly discussed and clearly delineated, but there are rules that can be ascertained from lurking on these sites.

However, here is an short cut Social Media Etiquette Guide to Manage your Professional Image:


This is the most professional of the commonly used social media sites. It is typically rarely used by younger professionals, but we see more and more individuals getting comfortable with it.


  • Give constant updates. LinkedIn is not Twitter and it makes it look like you have tons of time on your hands, which is not great if you are unemployed. If you are employed, it makes it look like you don’t have much to do at work.
  • Connect your Twitter account to your profile. The world of Twitter and LinkedIn are very different. The language and the constant updates are not in sync with the culture of LinkedIn. You are likely to just annoy people.
  • Ask to connect with people you don’t know. You should inform people of how you know them when you are requesting to connect with them if they will not recognize you with ease. If you want to be connected to someone that have never met, have someone you do know “introduce” you. You have to do the heavy lifting.
  • Constantly post on a group. Unless you are moderating the group, keep your comments appropriate to the pace and culture of the group.


  • Create a significant group of contacts. You should get into the habit of getting cards at events from people you meet and connecting with people that you have met, of course, reminding them of where you met.
  • Join a few important groups. Participate thoughtfully on those groups — asking for and providing information.
  • Connect your professional blog to your profile. If you have a blog which discusses topics in your field, use the applications available to you to connect it to your profile.



  • Post or allow others to post inappropriate pictures or videos of yourself. Gauge inappropriate by asking yourself – “would you show this to your future (ideal) employer?” In essence, you are potentially sharing it with them if it is posted.
  • Give silly or easily miscontrued updates about yourself. They will be interpreted and most likely not in a favorable light.
  • Join inappropriate groups and have silly apps on your page.
  • Provide personal inf0rmation about yourself like relationship status and birthdate. It leaves you open to discrimination.


  • Join useful professional groups and become fans of companies you are interested in.
  • Create groups that promote community service, clubs and professional organizations that you are involved with.
  • Use apps that are career-related and show that you are committed to intellectual and professional growth.



  • Retweet more than 3x in a row. Followers tend to find that very annoying. It means that you are not generating original content.
  • Constantly advertise yourself. Make sure that you are also looking around you to see what others are saying and sharing that with others.
  • Tweet without breaks. You shouldn’t be tweeting even 10x an hour. If you are only on Twitter for a set period, you want to use a program like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to schedule your tweets. That way, your followers won’t be bombarded.


  • Learn how to craft tweet. It’s a bit of an art and a science that may take some practice and reading. There is a lot great information on the web. In 140 characters, you need to capture the essence of your thought. You shouldn’t create a set of tweets to convey everything you want to say — put that in a blog.
  • Create original and interesting content. This depends on your professional brand.
  • Make sure your ratio isn’t out of wack. If you are following 700 people, but you have only 10 people following you, people will assume you are a spammer and not follow you. Build your following slowly with your content.
  • Keep most tweets under 140 characters. Most people who will want to retweet you also want to add commentary if you don’t allow them space they may not retweet you.



  • Write a tome. You are not looking to write “War and Peace” each time. Blog entries can be very short, but should never be tremendously long. Keep it between 250-1000 words.


  • Write consistently between 1-5 times a week. The content should be quality so definitely consider quality over quantity.
  • Edit your work. Make sure to read and reread your entries or get a friend or colleague to edit for you. A great way to do this is with a co-blogger. This way you can edit each other’s work and create a stronger stream of posts that are out every week. Make sure that the right individual is getting writing credit. They are ways to have multiple bloggers on a blog, but make sure that the program you are using accomodates this.
  • Hyperlinks. Don’t add the actual address into post. Use hyperlinks to connect it text.
  • Comment on others’ blogs. It’s important to belong to the community of bloggers in your area of interest. It’s also important to respond to comments on your blog.
  • Give credit where credit is due. Make sure you credit any content on your blog that has come from another source.

If you follow some basic guidelines, you can get social media to work for you and support your professional life.


Leave a Reply