Thursday, June 22, 2017

Five Great Tips for Social Media Etiquette


FTC disclosure:  This is a sponsored post on behalf of U.S. Cellular.

I love being on social media.  I spend a bit more time on it than I would like, but it's a great way to catch up with my friends from high school and college.  I plan my annual "Party in the Park" on social media, and even my guinea pig has a Facebook page.  Because of social media apps, I am on my U.S. Cellular iPhone 7 Plus more than ever.  I try not to use it at inappropriate times or too much in front of others.   In fact, 71% of people surveyed who own smartphones get upset with other smartphone users for excessive phone use.

In addition to being aware of how much time you are spending on your phone, here are some other tips for you to make the most of your social media experience.


Think before you post something.  If you are emotional, it's a good idea not to post right away.  Stop, take a deep breath, and maybe even go drink a glass of water before you post.  Also, it might be best to keep some opinions to yourself.  I've blocked a few people for voicing their opinions too loud and strongly on my social media pages.  An extreme example is I blocked a friend from college after he posted a video of a puppet show on my Facebook page explaining how I was wrong on a certain political opinion.  So, don't think the be careful what you post when you are emotional goes just for your page, but also what you post in reply to others.  No matter how much you think it, I would recommend never telling someone that their parents would be ashamed of them or anything similar.  (I have seen that done.  I didn't agree with the way the one person was acting, but I would never say something like that.)

Overlook your photos before posting online.  It's easy for unintended items to be in a photo.  Sometimes it's funny like a photo a friend posted one time of his wife, and their cat was at her feet and it looked scarier than a Halloween decoration.  There was the photo of the tornado that went viral because a man was mowing his lawn in the foreground.  Other times, it might be making an announcement that you don't want made yet -- like the couple who posted an engagement photo that had a pregnancy test in the corner of the photo.  They weren't ready to announce they were expecting -- just that they were engaged, but oops, there was both announcements in one picture.  One time I was uploading some photos and I had accidentally saved a screenshot of an online order to that folder and there was five minutes that all my friends could see what I had recently purchased.  (I still cringe when I think about that!)

Ask before posting news for others.  We decided to not even try to keep photos offline the day of our wedding, so we printed our chosen hashtag in our wedding program.  But not every couple wants photos posted online until they upload the photos themselves.  So before you post anything like an engagement, expecting a baby, or other happy news, be sure and check if it's okay yet. Many times it will be, but make sure before you share.  Once the person whose good news it is shares, you can share, but a good rule of thumb is not before then without permission.  My sister in law was one of the first people my husband called when we got engaged, but she waited until I posted a photo of my ring to congratulate us.  I really appreciated that.

Also, the same holds true for bad news.  I had to tell someone the night my mother died not to post the news on Facebook (it wasn't posted, but I found out later that person contacted some friends).  People started posting on my Facebook wall how sorry they were before I even posted that my mother passed away!  Before she passed, I always either posted very general health updates or asked her permission before I posted.  But not everyone did, and there was more than one time Mom grumbled that she didn't have any privacy.  In an extreme situation of what not to post, someone shared a photo of a car accident in our town on Facebook.  The lady in the car passed away, and before police could even contact the family, her teenage son had learned about his mother's death by seeing a photo of his mother's car on social media.

Keep in mind who all might be able to read what you post.   I posted something on a friend's Facebook status without realizing it was public one time.  Because it was public, it showed up in many of my friends' news feeds since I commented on it.  Including the person I was talking about in the post.  I nearly lost a dear friendship over that.  Thankfully she asked me about it instead of never speaking to me again, but I now always double check who all can read the posts of things I comment on -- and even then, the owner of the post could change privacy settings!  I keep my postings pretty bland because I have a number of preachers as friends on Facebook, and a
lso I have a lot of friends who are elderly.  Before I post something I think of how someone could disagree with it, and then possibly change it so it would be less offensive, if it is at all.

In addition to asking before posting news, ask the parents / guardians before posting photos with their children in it.  I am planning a party next month, and I am going to announce this as many photos do get posted online from it.  A couple of the younger guests are in the foster care system, and for a very few children in foster care, it's dangerous for them and their foster parents if their photo gets posted on social media.  

Social media is a fantastic way to communicate and share bits of our lives with others.  Hopefully these few tips will help you make your time online even better!

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