Unspoken Rules of Social Networks

Today, in both our personal and professional lives, social media is a part of our communication. For most of us in the public relations or marketing field, interacting via social networks has become secondnature. Of course, this is a huge benefit, but are there known “social rules of etiquette?” For example, do you follow your company’s CEO on Twitter and DM him or her regularly? Do you look up your clients on Facebook and browse their weekend pictures?

Things we would never do without social media, we don’t hesitate to do with it. I doubt most of us would call up our CEO to chat in the evening. I don’t think we would exchange weekend anecdotes and stories with our clients either. I’m not saying this is wrong by any means. I am saying that we should take this in to account when we are utilizing social media.

We are all sharing and learning on social networks, but do we consider different social networks appropriate for different audiences? For me, Facebook is really the only social network I hestitate accepting everyone on. I recently received a friend request on Facebook from a person I have done business with in the past. However, I don’t know this individual on a personal level; in fact, we haven’t even met in person, or spoken on the phone- our relationship was entirely via e-mail. Clearly, I hesitated to open my entire Facebook world up to her (I was a little irratated this person even put me in the predicament). I debated the dreaded acceptance for about two weeks. I ended up accepting, but only after I realized I didn’t hestiate to instantly accept a friend request from someone in my high school class- someone I have not even seen or talked to since high school. Why did the two seem so different?

I challenge us to consider our social networks and our practices on those outlets. Are we censoring behavior? Do we care if peers see posts or pictures about our private lives, but are weirded-out if a co-worker sees it? I know this debate is nothing new, but it’s something that continues to affect my social media behavior. I hope it’s still affecting yours, too.

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