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16 Social Media Rules You Should Never Ever Break

16 Social Media Rules You Should Never Ever Break

Social media is an amazing tool as well as a source of entertainment, news, information and more. Even if you are not on your social media accounts a lot, what you do so can stay with you. In fact, anything you post on Facebook, Twitter or any other account can impact your professional and personal life. And if you are friends or followed by people from both aspects of your life, it’s important to keep your postings to things that are appropriate for both. Your boss, for example, may not be impressed at the sight of you sucking beer straight out of the keg at a party over the weekend.

In addition, don’t think that just because it’s the Internet you are somehow anonymous. The rules of polite society should, in many ways, still apply.

1. Don’t Be a Tattletale

This was true in school and is true in social media, as well. Just because you know someone’s secret doesn’t mean everyone has to! Keep confidential information confidential — this goes for work and friends. If your company is working on something new and exciting, let it be up to the company to decide when to tell. If one of your friends is pregnant or getting a divorce, keep it to yourself until you hear otherwise.

2. Don’t Violate Copyright Laws

It’s fun to post quotes, pictures and other amusing things on Facebook or Twitter — but make sure you attribute them properly. The informal nature of social media does not mean that you can repost someone else’s poem on your blog without proper attribution. When in doubt, use quotation marks! And if you don’t know who wrote something or took a picture, ask your friends; usually, someone knows.

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3. Don’t Assume Anonymity

Just because you post something under a different name, don’t assume no one can find out who you are. As humans, we are notoriously bad at covering our tracks, and unless you also understand the nuances of IP addresses and other tracking technology, be careful what you post online. Many times, a post from a phone or laptop, even under an anonymous account, can be linked back to the owner of the cell phone or the account holder of the Internet service provider.

4. Don’t Be a Bully

Unfortunately, even adults need to be reminded of this entirely too often. Don’t use ethnic slurs online. Don’t sling personal insults. Don’t do anything online that you wouldn’t do in person, at work. Just don’t.  If you would do those things at work, you might want to consider professional etiquette lessons. Or anti-bullying classes.

5. Don’t Friend Strangers

If your only intention is to sell them things, don’t friend people you don’t know. It’s rude. And you will lose your credibility quickly. Besides, if the only things your real friends see online are your posts trying to sell stuff, you might lose them too.

6. Don’t Send Out Game Requests

Or other timewasters to all of your friends. If you and a few friends like playing Scrabble or other games online, make sure you keep the invites and requests to that specific group. Some people are very annoyed with game requests and will unfriend even their bestie for doing this.

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7. Don’t Post Angry

Or intoxicated, upset, over-tired, jet-lagged or otherwise compromised. Do it one time and you’ll see why. Don’t do it at all and you’ll have a happier following. In general, no one wants to see a person who constantly posts negative things. Try and keep most of your posts happy, light, funny or inspirational. If something tragic happens in your life, and you’d like to receive prayers or help, use social media for that. But remember the boy who cried wolf — if you’re always posting sad or negative items, when something truly bad happens, most of your friends might just scroll past.

8. Do Publish Positively

Remember, what you post might be around for a long time — or searchable for a long time. Make sure your posts are positive and reflective of your best side. People who have tried to delete bad or wrong posts often lose because others can take screenshots of that horrid thing and it will stay around forever. Delete doesn’t always mean erase.

9. Do Check Your Online Profiles

Keep your online profiles consistent. If you have social media accounts you no longer use (remember MySpace?), delete them or update them accordingly. Make sure each of your profiles shows information you want the world to see.

10. Do Take Responsibility for Your Online Actions

Did you rant online? Are you genuinely upset with a company for some reason? If you say something and you stand behind it, then stand behind it. Don’t retract or recant. People will often admire your willingness not to retract your story as long as it’s honest and not posted in a hateful way. If you do make a mistake and say something rude or bully-ish,  then own up to it, apologize and move on.

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11. Do Add Value

Whether you are a blogger, real estate agent, doctor or other professional, try to add value to what’s already out there. Do you know of a great new home in the area for your neighborhood peeps? Post it. Read about a new treatment for a disease? Let your followers know. Did you write a great article on the benefits of reading great articles? Share it. People crave information; if you have some, let your friends know about it.

12. Do Show Consideration

Always err on the side of kindness and consideration. If you’re not sure if someone wants particular information posted, don’t post it. Always think about how you would feel if someone posted that type of information about you without your knowledge.

13. Do Think First

Before you post something, think about it. Do your friends really care what you ate for breakfast or how long your bike ride was? Really? Unless you ate at a famous chef’s restaurant, made a cake so unusual and unique that it just begged to be shared or rode your bike from your house to a city far away, assume that some information can be kept to yourself. In the words of the editor of my first book, “you may care about that, but no one else does.” It hurts, I know, to think no one else cares that you ate two scrambled eggs for breakfast, but really…really?

14. Do Tag Gently

It’s fun to tag our friends in our comments, thoughts, posts and pictures, but be gentle. Unless the comment or picture is directly related to that person, avoid the tag. Your friends don’t want their notifications loaded up with tags anymore than you do. If it’s important, tag it.

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15. Do Check for Grammar

You don’t have to be a grammarian, but really, do you want to look like you’ve never read a book — even on a Kindle? How you post (and that includes your grammar and spelling) is a reflection on you and how much you care about what others hear or see from you. If you are posting in a professional capacity, always run your post through a spell and grammar check first. Professionals should always be seen as capable and intelligent. No one wants to go to a doctor who posts, “come n c me 4 grt medicul attn.”

16. Do Participate Online

Nothing is more irritating than being friends with a person who only posts about themselves or their business and never “likes,” comments or replies to anything anyone posts. I have a number of Facebook friends who seem to sit back and just lurk, or even just assume that because they are popular or well-known in their business, that they are too good to “hang out” with the rest of us. Get in there. Wish someone a “Happy Birthday!” Like someone’s pictures. Offer up a little advice. No one likes a lurker.

More by this author

Michelle Kennedy Hogan

Michelle is an explorer, editor, author of 15 books, and mom of eight.

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Published on March 25, 2019

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

Career advancement is an enticement that today’s companies use to lure job candidates. But to truly uncover growth opportunities within a company, it’s up to you to take the initiative to move up. You can’t rely on recruiter promises that your company will largely hire from within. Even assurances you heard from your direct supervisor during the interviewing process may not pan out.

But if you begin a job knowing that you’re ultimately responsible for getting yourself noticed, you will be starting one step ahead.

Accomplished entrepreneur and LinkedIn Co-Founder Reid Hoffman said,

“If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward.”

It’s important to recognize that taking charge of your own career advancement, and then mapping out the steps you need to succeed, is key to moving forward on your trajectory.

Make a Point of Positioning Yourself as a Rising Star

As an employee looking for growth opportunities within your current company, you have many avenues to position yourself as a rising star.

As an insider, you’re able to glean insights on company strategies and apply your expertise where it’s most needed. Scout out any skills gaps, then make a point to acquire and apply them. And, when you have creative ideas to offer, make it your mission to gain the ear of those in the organization who can put your ideas to the test.

Valiant shows of commitment and enterprise make managers perk up and take notice, keeping you ahead of both internal and external competitors.

Employ these other useful tips to let your rising star qualities shine:

1. Promote Your Successes to Your Higher-Ups

When your boss casually asks how you’re doing, use this valuable moment to position yourself as indispensable: “I’m floating on clouds because three clients have already commented on how well they like my redesign of the company website.”

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Tell your supervisors about any and all successes. Securing a new contract or signing a new customer should be a cause for celebration. Be sure to let your bosses know.

2. Cultivate Excellent Listening Skills

Listen well, and ask great questions. Realize that people love to talk about themselves.

But if you’re a superb listener, others will confide in you, and you’ll learn from what they share. You may even find out something valuable about your own prospects in the company.

If others view you as even-minded and thoughtful, they’ll respect your ideas and, in turn, listen to what you have to say.

3. Go to All Office Networking Events

Never skip the office Christmas party, your coworker’s retirement party, or any office birthday parties, wedding showers, or congratulatory parties for colleagues.

If others see you as a team player, it will help you rise in your company. These on-site parties will also help you mingle with co-workers whom you might not ordinarily have the chance to see. For special points, help organize one or two of these get-togethers.

Take the Extra Step to Show Your Value to the Company

Managers and HR staff know that it can be less risky – and a lot less costly — to promote from within. As internal staff, you likely have a good grasp of the authority structure and talent pool in the company, and know how to best navigate these networks in achieving both the company’s goals and your own.

The late Nobel-Prize winning economist, Gary Becker, coined the term “firm-specific,” which describes the unique skills required to excel in an individual organization. You, as a current employee, have likely tapped into these specific skills, while external hires may take a year or more to master their nuances.

Know that your experience within the company already provides value, then find ways to add even more value, using these tips:

4. Show Initiative

Commit yourself to whatever task you’re given, and make a point of going above and beyond.

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Position yourself so that you’re ready to take on any growth opportunities that present themselves. If you believe you have skills that have gone untapped, find a manager who will give you a chance to prove your worth.

Accept any stretch assignment that showcases your readiness for advancement. Stay late, and arrive early. Half of getting the best assignments is sticking around long enough to receive them.

5. Set Yourself Apart by Staying up on Everything There Is to Know About Your Company and Its Competitors

Subscribe to and read the online trade journals. Become an active member in your industry’s network of professionals. Go to industry conferences, and learn your competitors’ strategies.

Be the on-the-ground eyes and ears for your organization to stay on top of industry trends.

6. Go to Every Company Meeting Prepared and Ready to Learn

A lot of workers feel meetings are an utter waste of time. They’re not, though, because they provide face-time with higher-ups and those in a position to give you the growth opportunities you need.

Go with the intention of absorbing information and using it to your advantage — including the goals and work styles of your superiors. Respect the agenda, listen more than you speak, and never beleaguer a point.

Accelerate Your Career Growth Opportunities

A recent study found that the five predictors of employees with executive potential were: the right motivation, curiosity, insight, engagement, and determination. These qualities help you stand out, but it’s also important to establish a track record of success and to not appear to be over-reaching in your drive to move up in your company.

Try to see yourself from your boss’s position and evaluate your promote-ability.

Do you display a passion and commitment toward meeting the collective goals of the company? Do you have a motivating influence with team members and show insight and excellence in all your work?

These qualities will place you front and center when growth opportunities arise.

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Use these strategic tips to escalate your opportunities for growth:

7. Find a Mentor

With mentorship programs fast disappearing, this isn’t always easy. But you need to look for someone in the company who has been promoted several times and who also cares about your progress.

Maybe it’s the person who recommended you for the job. Or maybe it’s your direct supervisor. It could even be someone across the hall or in a completely different department.

Talk to her or him about growth opportunities within your company. Maybe she or he can recommend you for a promotion.

8. Map out Your Own Growth Opportunity Chart

After you’ve worked at the company for a few months, work out a realistic growth chart for your own development. This should be a reasonable, practical chart — not a pie-in-the-sky wish list of demands.

What’s reasonable? Do you think being promoted within two years is reasonable? What about raises? Try to inform your own growth chart with what you’ve heard about other workers’ raises and promotions.

Once you’ve rigorously charted a realistic path for your personal development within the company, try to talk to your mentor about it.

Keep refining your chart until it seems to work with your skills and proven talents. Then, arrange a time to discuss it with your boss.

You may want to time the discussion around the time of your performance review. Then your boss can weigh in with what he feels is reasonable, too.

9. Set Your Professional Bar High

Research shows that more than two-thirds of workers are just putting in their time. But through your active engagement in the organization and commitment to giving your best, you can provide the contrast against others giving lackluster performances.

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Cultivate the hard skills that keep you on the cutting edge of your profession, while also refining your soft skills. These are the attributes that make you better at embracing diverse perspectives, engendering trust, and harnessing the power of synergy.

Even if you have an unquestionably left-brain career — a financial analyst or biotechnical engineer, for example — you’re always better off when you can form kind, courteous, quality relationships with colleagues.

Let integrity be the cornerstone of all your interactions with clients and co-workers.

The Bottom Line

Growth opportunities are available for those willing to purposely and adeptly manage their own professional growth. As the old adage says,

“Half of life is showing up.”

The other half is sticking around so that when your boss is looking for someone to take on a more significant role, you are among the first who come to mind.

Remember, your career is your business!

More Resources About Ever-Growing

Featured photo credit: Zach Lucero via unsplash.com

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