Putting Your Best Foot Forward: Manners on Social Media

As my young son is beginning to grow out of his toddler years and into childhood, one thing we’ve been constantly working on with him is his manners. That being said, I would hardly consider him impolite or rude, by any means – he treats everyone he meets with excessive amounts of genuine kindness and warmth. Just the same, we’ve been working hard to make sure that he remembers his pleases and thank-yous when asking for and receiving help, as you do with any young person who’s starting to become more and more autonomous. It might seem like a small thing, but in our society, these gestures of politeness and respect go a long way. Manners are important!

The same can also be said about interactions over social media. Using your manners online is not just a matter of appearing polite – engaging with people in a respectful fashion and remembering to treat others online the way you’d want to be treated in person is a fundamental rule of social media. Ignoring this mandate has the same ramifications as behaving rudely in any social setting: people will inevitably take notice, and will want little to do with you – or your brand – as a result. Not sure how manners transfer over to the digital space? Don’t worry, I’ll give you a quick rundown.

How to Say “Please” and “Thank-You” Online

You might be a little unclear on how to use your manners in the world of social media, but really, etiquette is exactly the same online as it is in the real world. When somebody acknowledges you, acknowledge them back, and thank them. If somebody goes out of their way for you, show appreciation, and try to do the same in return. Here are a few common examples you’ll run into daily online:

  • Someone asks you a question: Reply back in a way that shows appreciation for the engagement while also demonstrating your expertise on the subject and hopefully sparking a conversation. Try to respond as quickly as possible – you wouldn’t like it if you asked someone a question and it took them days to get back to you in the real world, so don’t be that sort of person online!
  • Someone mentions you in a post: Be sure to comment back thanking them for the mention, and respond in a way that reflects engagement and excitement about the original post. Feel free to share the mention across your platforms as well, to both prompt engagement and show the original poster your gratitude.
  • Someone pays you a compliment: Thank them graciously, and engage with the post that the compliment showed up in. Return the compliment in kind if it makes sense to do so, either in a new post of your own, or by sharing the original post with your followers. Again, try to respond expediently – imagine how odd it would be to pay somebody a compliment in the real world, only to have them ignore you for a week straight before coming up to you and saying “Thanks, I like your hair today!”
  • Someone comments on or shares your post: Reply with gratitude for the engagement, and respond to any comments as soon as you are able to. Consider commenting on their account in return, sharing one of their posts in appreciation, or sparking a dialogue by asking a thought-provoking or relevant question.
  • Someone follows you: Don’t just issue a blind “Thanks!” and consider your job done. As in real life, fake manners are almost worse than out-and-out rudeness. Instead, take a quick look at their profile, and identify something special or unique about their posts. Then, thank them for following you, and make mention of what you saw on their account. This will go a long way towards demonstrating the genuine nature behind your comment, and will help ensure that your new follower sticks around. You took the time to learn about them – a gesture that will often result in them taking the time to learn about you.

That’s pretty much all there is to it! Of course, these scenarios represent only a small slice of what you’ll run into within the world of social media, but if you apply these basic principles and ideas to all of your engagements and encounters, you’ll be in a great spot when it comes to conducting yourself respectfully and politely online.

Treat Others the Way You’d Like to be Treated

At the end of the day, using your manners online comes down to following that simple Golden Rule we were all taught when we were growing up: treat others how you’d like to be treated. When you make a comment on somebody else’s post, you’re doing it to engage with them, in the hopes that they acknowledge you and engage back. You’d want somebody to thank you for following them, so do the same when people follow you. Engage with people who are looking to connect with you – nothing’s worse than being ignored by somebody you’re trying to reach out to! After all, that’s what social media is all about: demonstrating that your brand is one that respects authentic, quality interactions with customers, clients, and everybody else out there.

If you’ve still got some questions about how to be polite and use your manners on social media, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I’ll be happy to chat with you about all the dos and don’ts of online etiquette!

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