This story first appeared on PR Daily in September 2011.
We’ve seen tons of examples of people behaving badly on social media.
Maybe it’s because we spend so much time online, we forget that the people we’re sending messages to are human beings. They have a face, not some goofy avatar, and an actual name. They might own a puppy.
So, before the next time you send out a tweet, blog, or start a Hangout, ask yourself: Am I being a jerk?
If you don’t know the answer, here’s our guide to the telltale signs:
1. Posting anonymous comments. If you’re going to contribute to a conversation, tell people who you are. Don’t hide behind oh-so-precious monikers such as “I Luv Hemingway,” “Reading This Article,” or “PRdivalicious.” If you don’t provide your name, it looks like you’re hiding something. And it just makes you look silly.
2. You’re attached to your smartphone. Whether you’re at dinner, on the soccer sidelines, or playing pat-a-cake with your 2-year-old, your smartphone never leaves your sight. Put. It. Down. There’s a time and a place to tweet or post—and it’s not when you’re talking to someone face to face.
3. Faking authenticity. If you tweet or post under the guise of, “I’m just trying to be real,” or “I want to be honest,” you’re not. You’re trying too hard. If you want to be yourself, be yourself. Just don’t preface it that way.
4. Blatant self-promotion. Don’t clog your social media channels with your product or brand information. People can see right through it. You want to be “authentic,” right?
5. Referring to yourself offline by your Twitter handle. When you attend social media events, do you put your Twitter handle on your name badge, instead of your real name? Ugh. Remember, you are a person. A real, honest-to-God person. You are not your Twitter handle, even if it’s your first and last name.
6. You publicly correct people. We’ve all made grammatical errors or accidentally tweeted the wrong links. It’s embarrassing. What makes it worse is when someone points it out publicly. If you feel the urge to correct someone, send the person a DM. If you can’t, well, at least be subtle: “You might wanna check your last tweet.” They’ll see it as an act of kindness, not as one of humiliation.
7. You tell people your Klout score. This is tragic. You are a person. You are not a number. Why not tell people your SAT scores, too?
8. You’re a Facebook addict. No, seriously; it’s a problem. You’re constantly updating your status, playing Farmville, and sending messages to your high school boyfriend. Every fleeting thought is written down in a post. As you pose for pictures, you’ve already decided which Photo Albums they will go in.
9. You name drop Twitter handles of people who follow you. Just because you follow someone, you don’t actually “know” each other (most likely). It’s OK to say that you follow certain people on Twitter, but you’re mistaken to think you are actually friends with them. You actually have to meet a person before you can say you “know” them.
10. You refer to yourself as a “social media ninja.” Well, I guess it’s better than referring to yourself as “Anonymous.” And you’d better have the Klout score to back it up, Grasshopper.
Jessica Levco is co-editor of Health Care Communication News.