Dec 31

Social Networking Etiquette for Social Media Professional and Power users

Do’s and Don’ts for Personal, Professional and Power Users in Social Media

Michael, a loyal reader of mine, beat me to this. I have had this post in the making for a while when he sends me this mail:

Hi again. I was wondering. What guidelines should a person have for themselves when making friends requests and messaging people on facebook. Twitter seems pretty straight forward. With Twitter as long as you are not following a hundred or more people per day you are safe. But facebook seems to be a lot more complex and confusing.

As far as friends requests. Facebook doesn’t like people making friends requests with “strangers”. I have made friends requests to people with common interests and a lot of these people have accepted my friends requests. If someone turned down my friends request I would respect that. But facebook has been getting upset regardless. How do I avoid incurring the wrath of facebook.

I particularly love the “wrath of Facebook” idea. I have long replaced FB with several other metaphors, from countries to organisations, but with that expression and their most recent innovations such as facial recognition, I might add the omnipotent, omnipresent PTB to the list.

Back to the point, there are many excellent posts out there, but to anyone seriously considering a professional social media presence, Chris Brogan’s is definitely a must and so is thechipedia’s post, which came out in 2008 but still as valid as ever. I do not want to repeat what they say. I’d rather look at it from a different angle.

I am more concerned about how people who use this professionally behave. Thus I divided social media users into three groups. Personal – it is my missus or my nephew, or my colleagues. They use it – many of them post a lot more frequently than I do, most have more friends then I do, and all of them are completely unaware of the consequence of their actions in social media and have no idea about rules and regulations governing their relationship with the service provider. They are the least of my concern, as most of them will never ever break the rules so badly that they would have to suffer retaliation from the PTB.

Professional users are people who are looking to gain commercially from the use of these social communities. Recruiters looking for candidates on LinkedIn, FB trolls and YouTube moguls selling likes and comments on Fiverr. They are definitely among my target group as some have already broken the rules, others have bent them, and many more will follow suit.

Finally community managers: they are my kind, and I have a few not that kind words in store for them. These are the people who own or manage LinkedIn groups, Facebook pages or big brand twitter accounts. They have the means to reach out to thousands of people. Tens of thousands, or even millions. (I have been following the activities of a Brand manager on twitter that looks after 3 million people, and they way he works that account is utterly appaling.)

Personal level users

This is where Michael started out and wanted to step up a level to professional, unwittingly violating quite a few rules.

Facebook is the perfect police state, every move you make is recorded. You cannot click on a sinlge thing without the big brother looking over your shoulder. As a result, if you are a bad boy/girl, beware! Facebook is watching and you’ll get found out.

To directly reply to Michael’s question, friend only those people whom you know from real life. If you want to get carried away and want the max 5000 friends, there are two ways: games – maffia, farm, whatever; networkers – people who already have 3000+ friends. As I pointed out in another post, every social network has its subcommunity of open networkers. On LinkedIn it’s the LION’s, on Twitter it is TeamFollowBack, on FB it is the nonexistent beauties who have 3-4-5000 friends. Beware – many of these people are not real, they are just accounts that belong to a small company in South-east asia. Final warning to personal users – never follow more than 20 people a day. Never. FB is watching you.

On LinkedIn, only send contact requests to people you have at least exchanged emails with. On Twitter, do not follow – and unfollow more than 100 people a day.

Professional level social media users

fresh potatoes advertised on LinkedInThey tend to be the most annoying to personal level users. They actively engage in friending, and tend to use a much larger set of the available services than personal users. They are not to be confused with heavy personal users. Just because someone posts 5 updates on FB every day, or engages in public conversations on Twitter does not make them Twitter. This is where most companies make the biggest mistake. They assume that their social media team is professional because they regularly tweet about the company and respond to customer enquiries. Sorry – they are just heavy personal users.

Unless there is a commercial gain and a strategy that runs in the background, no matter how active you are, you are still not professional. Ask yourself these questions:

  • How many Twitter accounts do you manage?
  • Do you post when you find something interesting, or do you use a tool to optimise when your Tweets are posted?
  • Do you know how to set up a FB page and how to automatically post updates from your blog to this page?
  • How many groups have you been a member of on LinkedIn?


If you only use a single account, have never run accounts on autopilot, never automated following and unfollowing, nerev tested message copy and post-times, you are not a professional user.


Being a professional begins with setting up apps and pages, using custom tabs, and not at having 1000 “friends”.


If you have been a member of the same 50 groups eversince you joined… sorry…

How to behave in Social Media when you are a Pro

Act like a pro. Your behaviour should conform to all the rules, even the fine-print. Read those rules, and follow them.

Be polite and respectful. There is nothing worse than a pushy stranger, and misconduct is easy to punish in Social media.

Be personal. It is so totally unprofessional to send the same default invites to people you hardly know. At least take the time to write down my name and briefly explain why knowing you would be good for me.

Keep your cool. Using social media actively will inevitably take you to places. You might unwantingly tread on a few toes. If you did, apologise and offer compensation. If you get abuse because you did, assume that it is your fault and apologise. Even if you had the best intention, if too many people flag your account, your best intentions will not count.

Community Manager Level – Power Users

They are the power-users who are most often almost completely invisible. But this invisibility should not mean inactivity. One of my biggest problems with community managers is that they think that their job only comprises of

  • approving new members,
  • setting up an auto-pilot welcome message, and
  • posting all kinds of content.

No, it ain’t.

Selecting whom you let in will help you keep the community manageable. For example, LinkedIn shows a warning next to applacants who have 0 or 1 connections. Why? Because most spammers use such accounts. Why let these people in if they are likely to spam your group into pieces?

Not moderating who posts what to your community is the biggest mistake. Recently I have tested how responsive people are in a spam infested and in a well-mainteined group. The difference is 1.1% vs 4.9%. In monetary terms, spammer reduce your commercial potential by 75%. ’nuff said.

If you are the biggest spammer in your group, noone can save you from yourself. Not testing and measuring what type of content your community is the most responsive to is a big mistake. But an even bigger mistake is not testing when to post to make the biggest impact.

If you want to talk about helping to build and manage your own social community, leave a comment or get in touch.

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