Since social media has saturated our everyday lives, it’s important to understand how to appropriately use these different platforms. We have shared information about different social networks, especially LinkedIn, and how you can use them to your advantage, but it’s also important to understand the “unwritten” rules of social media.
The Unwritten Rules of Social Media
Connect/Follow/Like with Purpose
The purpose of social media is to connect to others. While this looks different on each platform, you should be intentional about who or what you are connecting with. On Twitter, follow companies and brands that you are truly interested in; on LinkedIn, connect with people that you actually know; on Facebook, “like” organizations that you care about. These decisions will influence the feed of information that you see, and are also visible to those that you are connected with. Think about your specific interests and pursue those via social media rather than “liking” every page out there.
Do Talk to Strangers
Yes, you read correctly! Social media is a place for you to connect with people that you may share common interests with, but don’t personally know. However, there are rules to these connections. Facebook should be used to “friend” people that you actually know. On Twitter you have the option to follow any user which allows you connect with new people, see what they are sharing, and potentially engage in dialogue.
LinkedIn can be more of a gray area. There are some people that would argue it’s a safe space to connect with people you don’t personally know for the intention of networking or building contacts. However, my advice is to use the introduction features of LinkedIn to reach new people through your current connections. Your network on LinkedIn can be a powerful tool, so it’s important to keep up with contacts that you know and could reach out to for professional advice and assistance.
If you do decide to connect with someone you don’t personally know on LinkedIn, write a personalized message along with the connection request about why you are reaching out to that person. It’s helpful to always send along a message with each request about how you know the contact and why you’re looking to connect.
Not everyone wants to know that you’re currently standing in line at the grocery store. Use social media to share information with value! Read an article that’s intriguing to you? Almost every website online that publishes content includes quick buttons for you to share the story through social media networks. This makes it easy to quickly tweet the link or share the story via LinkedIn with your thoughts on the topic, or even pose a question to your followers. Think about the people/accounts that you enjoy following on social media. Do they just share updates about their daily lives, or are they sharing helpful information?
Ask for Help
Although a majority of people have at least one social media account, it doesn’t mean that they know how to effectively use it. If you’re not sure how to approach someone on LinkedIn, or how you can connect to people with similar interests via Twitter—ask for help! Career advisors can provide advice on how you can navigate and use LinkedIn to your advantage.