It’s easy to spot somebody who’s just jumped on the Social Media bandwagon. On Facebook, especially, newbie behavior is as predictable as the sunrise. So those who are willing to learn just a few basics can come across as old pros from the day they they show up on Facebook and Twitter.
- Take the “social” in “Social Media” seriously. Take the time to respond to messages from your friends and people you follow. Send a private or direct message now and then to people you know well enough. Post positive replies on posts by others — but not too many! Just enough to show you care about what others have to say.
- It’s ok to post messages promoting your business, but balance them with personal or non-promotional messages. As in the real world, people tune out those who talk only about themselves. I tell clients to keep promotional posts to less than 30 percent of their total.
- Don’t try to automate your posts by having sites like Twitterfeed post messages based on RSS feeds. (If you’re a true newbie, you probably don’t even know what I’m talking about, but after a while you’ll learn how to do this and be tempted.) Some experienced Twitter users will unfollow you if you start letting these sites and apps post stuff you’ve never even read.
- Avoid Facebook apps and games like a case of e-coli. Each time you add a Facebook app, you will see a screen that asks you to give it permission to post messages to your news feed. Just say no. Sure, you’ll miss out on a few apps that are actually useful, but the grief and embarrassment you save yourself will more than compensate for it.
- If you simply can’t live without trying your hand at Farmville, Cityville and Mafia Wars, at least deny the games permission to post messages to your account. Few things are more annoying than endless messages announcing that you have achieved superhuman level on Whateverville, or that you need somebody to give you a pair of golden shoes to ascend to the next level.
- Don’t click anything that looks too interesting. Facebook is full of scams and viruses that will do embarrassing things like send phony messages to your friends. You’ll get a feel for how to spot these messages, but things like “OMG!” or “You MUST see this!” or “Hilarious!!!” are reliable red flags. Anything with more than one exclamation point is probably linked to a malicious app. (Corollary: Keep words like that out of your posts.)
- Don’t flood the feed. I don’t know that there’s a magic number at which you’re overposting. For some it may be 10 a day. For others, it may be 2. It depends on your content, your style and your friends or followers. Just err on the side of taking it slow and you’ll be OK.
Finally, go back and re-read Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. Every word applies to Social Media just as it does to face-to-face interactions.