8 Essential Rules for Social Media Etiquette in 2014

Many people say social media is just like the Wild West; it seems to be a free-for-all with little to no rules. Well I disagree completely! Social Media has plenty of rules. To start with, each platform has “Terms of Service” describing what you can and can’t do. Beyond that, there are some unspoken rules that will make your overall experience more successful.

Image courtesy of Pixabay and succo

Image courtesy of Pixabay and succo

1. If someone follows you, it is customary to follow back. 

Now, I am not saying you follow everyone that follows you, but I am saying you should review each profile that follows you. If they are within you client profile you should follow them back. Platforms this is important to remember on – Twitter, Instagram, & Google+.

2. Don’t post dump!

What is post dumping? It is when someone posts a TON of posts all at once or one right after another in a very short timeframe. This is considered feed hijacking on Twitter and people will un-follow you in a heartbeat! This is not platform specific either! Don’t do it anywhere, on any platform. It is the biggest was to alienate your audience and lose followers.

3. Buying followers/likes/circles looks bad. 

 I know it is SOOO tempting to buy followers! Especially when you see “get 10,000 followers for $10.” But let me tell you, most of those followers are fake, they will do nothing but hurt your page (especially if your purchasing “likes” for your Facebook page), and it makes your audience question your authenticity. Remember the story of the tortoise and the hair? Trust me, slow and steady will win the race. Give yourself a good 3-6 months to really grow your following.

4. Thank people for sharing your content.

 Yes, thank them. You would be surprised how far a simple “Thank you” will go. They will notice you, your brand, and potentially become a client. If you see that someone on Facebook shared your article, thank the person/brand who shared it (same goes with Twitter and Google+). There are tools you can use such as Mention.com or Google Alerts to find out if someone is talking about your business.

5. Reply to all comments.

 You would be amazed at how much people love it when a page/brand interacts with him or her. If someone makes a comment on your post, make sure you acknowledge them, even if it is a simple click on the like or +1 button.

6. Don’t auto DM/Reply.

 Ugh! I can’t tell you how many times I have un-followed someone on Twitter because they sent me a DM (direct message). While it can generate some activity, the repercussions of losing potential buyers can hurt even more that getting a new like on your Facebook page. It, also, shows your followers you don’t care about creating a relationship with them. Remember, social media is about relationships. Develop them properly before you start asking for things.

7. Social media is not a place to air your dirty laundry.

 This really should be #1 on the list. Brand or not, social media is not a place for you to complain about your clients, vendors, or family. This should be left to a trusted friend or advisor that can help you through the difficult times. When you post something negative on social media, it never goes away. Even if you delete it, people still saw what you posted and will remember what you said. Keep things positive on social media… if you have a bad day find the one happy moment you had and post about that.

8. Keep consistent messaging across all platforms.

 Messaging is everything. Make sure it is consistent. If you talk about lamps on Twitter but you show photos of trees on Instagram, you are going to confuse your audience. Make sure to use the same brand message and voice across platforms in order to keep your audience engaged.

*Bonus – Consistent messaging does NOT mean you post the same exact thing on all platforms. 

Each platform is different and uses different languages. Twitter only allows for 140 characters, which means you need to be short and sweet, but on Facebook and Google+ you are allowed much longer posts. Google+ users enjoy longer posts, while Facebook should not be longer than about two sentences. These are only a few examples of why you should NOT post the same EXACT post on all platforms.


This topic is something I could go on and on about. Social media seems like the Wild West, but there really are rules you should follow. This is only a list of 8 (and a half) social media etiquette rules to follow. What would you add to the list?


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  1. Alex on May 23, 2014 at 1:46 am

    Thank you for the shout out!

    Community Manger at mention.com

    • Sarah Garrison on May 30, 2014 at 2:09 pm

      No problem Alex! I love mention and am happy to let everyone know about it!