10 Common Sense Guides to Using Social Media

Social media is fast becoming one of the most popular form of communication. The following are sensible and common sense suggestions to make your online presence as trouble free as possible.

1. Ensure that whatever you send makes sense and cannot be misconstrued. Remember, communication involves transmitting meaning.

2. Avoid sending or forwarding messages with racist, sexist or any other offensive content or language.

3. Furthermore, do not post, send or forward anything you may regret in the future. If you do not agree with a comment on social media, ignore it, rather than posting abusive words against the writer. The watchword is ‘think first’ before posting any item or even sending an email.

4. It is important to note that almost everything posted online is permanent and can potentially be seen, copied or downloaded by 7 billion people. Therefore be careful with the information, pictures and images you post on social media or anywhere online.

5. Beware! Employers and potential employers may also check your online profile for information about you. Ensure none of these can embarrass you.

6. Avoid sending daily messages or videos to people. Daily messages, however motivational can be overwhelming for most people.  Even if you think your messages are exceptionally wonderful, remember you may be crowding peoples lives with too much advice and you may in fact become a nuisance.

7. Do not send or forward messages that require the receiver to type ‘amen’ or to copy others in order to receive a miracle. This is playing on peoples’ emotions, and it is clearly a form of bullying.

8. If you are starting a group, it is more appropriate to first send out an invitation. Include a small introduction giving the objectives of the group, and guidance on what can and can not be posted on the platform. In other words, give people the option to opt in or out of a group and avoid adding people’s contact into a group without prior notification and approval.

9. If you belong to a group, do not abuse the platform by posting any messages or information outside of the objectives of the group.

10. Remember that tone and perception matters! Because culture differs even within a country, a well meaning message may in fact be misconstrued and considered offensive by others, perhaps because of its tone. Check meaning and consider how your message may be perceived before you send it.

We all benefit when we do things right.