By Scott Kleinberg and Amy Guth
August 29, 2013
Do no work on the seventh day of the week. Do not steal. Honor your parents. All good advice that has stood the test of time.
But as social media has grown and continues to grow, it seems fitting to give it a separate set of commandments. Here, we give it our best shot along with a quick explanation of each.
1.Thou shall not use the hashtag in vain. You know those photos on Instagram that have 20 hashtags attached to them? Yeah, that's too many. A general rule of thumb on any social media platform: Limit each post to one hashtag, two if absolutely necessary and never three.
2.Thou shall not steal. Use RT. Share. But never steal someone else's content and pass it off as your own. People talk, and your secret will be discovered.
3.Honor your friends. When someone you know posts great content, show them you appreciate it by sharing or retweeting or hitting that +1 button. It takes a second, and there's no higher compliment you can pay someone on social media. And while you're at it, wish them a happy birthday when Facebook alerts you.
4.Do not work on the seventh day – or whenever you have something else to do. Thanks to automated services such as Buffer and Hootsuite, you can still enjoy your free time by planning your posts on your schedule. It is best to check in on your posts just in case anything goes wrong.
5.Do not kill. Or in this case, do not delete. Let's use Twitter as an example: If you make a mistake, don't delete it. Tweet again with the correct information. Doing it this way ensures your are being as transparent as possible and no one can accuse you of hiding anything.
6.Thou shall not use snark as a default setting. Somewhere along the way, funny and sassy remarks veered into the territory of rudeness. Instead of calling rude, well, rude, we cut it some slack if it was cloaked in at-someone's-expense humor. Don't get us wrong, crazy-funny is crazy-fun, but when it's a put down, it's hurtful. Period. One helpful way to change your ways? Don't assume, and ask a question first. Still not convinced? Wait until you're the one getting the put-down-for-laughs and maybe then you'll agree.
7.Thou shall not succumb to "new, shiny object" syndrome. We're all been there. A new social media platform pops up and it's all the rage, but you just don't dig it. That's ok. Just because it's new, doesn't mean you have to love it or use it. Trust yourself, and use the tools that are right for you. That said….
8.Thou shall be open to new things. When it comes to social media, change is the only constant. Facebook will overhaul the look of its profiles, Twitter will add new features, and on and on and on. You don't have to love new designs and features, but try to have an open mind and test them and consider how you might use them before jumping in on the inevitable chorus of discontent to complain (see Commandment 6).
9.Thou shall not navel gaze. Everyone is good at something, and each one of us has some kind of issues in our lives at any given moment. And it *is* the social part of social media that make social media work. But constantly updating your statuses with "me me me, I I I" is going to get old to even your very best friend. Here's a tip: instead of talking about what is literally happening at a given moment, ask yourself, "what has my attention?" That will keep your tweets and posts more interesting, engaging and less prone to being only about yourself.
10.Thou shall regularly check and update privacy settings. Like any routine maintenance, it's important to stay on top of things to avoid bigger problems. Your social networks need the same kind of regular check-in to make sure your privacy settings are in line with how you use social media. Start on Facebook, and work your way over to Twitter, Google+ and all your other active platforms. Set aside 30 minutes to really dig through all the menus. Once you are caught up, it will be easier to make regular updates and keep things up to date.
What questions do you have about social media? Tweet them to @scottkleinberg. We might select yours for use in a future column.
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