Many of the questions that I am asked while teaching social media – and Facebook in particular – involve etiquette. Although social media tends to be a pretty informal place (more like a barbeque than a black-tie wedding…) just like any public gathering, Facebook has its own rules of decorum.
Here are answers to the questions that I am asked most frequently:
- I am only on Facebook occassionally – won’t people think I am rude if I don’t respond to a “friend” request or post right away? Don’t worry if you only check in to Facebook occassionally. It isn’t considered rude to not respond to someone right away if you are only online once in awhile. People understand that and can generally tell when someone is an infrequent user.
- I don’t like to share anything on Facebook. Is this ok? No worries – social media is known for “contributors” (those who tend to ‘share’ more) and “observers” (those who tend to watch a bit from a far). Its ok to be an observer so long as you weigh in with the occassional “like” of a friend’s new grandbaby photos.
- I am very active in a few political causes – is ok to share posts on my beliefs? That depends. Generally, political postings in moderation may be ok so long as it isn’t hateful to a particular group of people. But you know best who your friends are. Postings that trash a particular political party or group tend to be less well received (no one wants to hear from someone who dislikes their choice of elected leader.) So try to keep it positive.
- A “friend” posts way too much, and some of the postings I find offensive. What can I do? There are two easy options. If the person is someone who you would like to stay connected to, you can “unfollow” them. You will remain friends, but their posts will no longer show up on your feed. If you change your mind, you can choose to follow them again. And best of all, they will have no idea that you “unfollowed” them. (This works really well for those friends who tend to get really vocal on facebook leading up to an election!) If the person is not someone who you want to stay connected with, you can “unfriend” them (or as my friend Audrey liks to say — “de-face” them.) As with unfollowing, the person will not receive any notification that you have ‘unfriended’ them. The only way they will know is if they check their “friends” list, or tries to contact you on Facebook and sees that you are no longer friends.
To “unfollow” or “unfriend” someone, click on their name in your feed or friend list. Go to their profile page and click where shown below depending on whether you want to unfriend or unfollow.
Most important to social media etiquette is to remember that it isn’t that different from what we’ve told our children: Be a good listener, be kind, and don’t be a show off!