Mark Zuckerberg is no Emily Post. Click the "Help" link at the bottom of a Facebook page and there's nothing about etiquette.
Yet many, if not all of us touch bases with various social media at work. Some professionals are in their office cubicles posting on Facebook all day long. Others will occasionally post something on Linkedin. There must be some good baseline etiquette tips regarding the use of social media in the modern office environment.
There are. In fact, there are 7, and here they are:
1. Don't Get Yourself Fired
It seems like a no-brainer, and if the boss of your office has circulated a memo discouraging Facebook browsing and tweeting during company time, stick to the rules. However, there is a more subtle side of this issue.
Very often the person we are while we're in our office cubicle is different from the person we are when we're away from work. Not long ago, those two personalities could be kept separate more easily. As an extreme example, a woman was fired not long ago when her boss found out that she had an overtly sexual persona in the social media world. This image was contrary to the mission of the company and she was fired.
Consider the possible outcomes when business associates discover the other sides of your personalty.
2. Use Proper Grammar
Many power social media users are drifting further and further away from proper usage. If the work you do while you're in your cubicle is beginning to overlap with your presence in social media, use proper grammar and spelling. Your posts are becoming a form of business communication.
3. Keep Everything in its Place
Do not allow any communications via social media to outrank phone calls or email. Returning phone calls should always be at the top of the pecking order. Answer emails within 24 hours and then get to social media.
4. Be Careful who Your Friends Are
This is as important today as it was in high school. First, do you even want business associates to be Facebook friends or follow your personal tweets? It would be nice to relate business social media contacts to Linkedin and reserve Facebook for personal friends. However, it's usually not that easy and if you're sensitive, business contacts can be developed through Facebook. Realize that once business associates start to make their way onto your "friends" list, you have to watch your language and rants.
5. Don't Tweet Like a Twit
A Brazilian soccer coach lost his position when he sent a disparaging tweet about one of his players. Management felt he couldn't maintain the team loyalty and spirit that was required. The same thing can happen in the office. An idle comment can cause friction and lead to factions in the modern cubicle office setting.
6. Don't be Bossy
Are you the top dog, or at least one of the higher level dogs? If so, give some thought to whether or not you should send friend requests or accept friend requests from lower ranking employees. It might be a good idea to limit those contacts to Linkedin. And, if some of your employees are also Facebook friends, don't abuse social media communications by using them as another pipeline for work assignments or office memos. Don't post something like, "Will the monthly reports EVER get finished?"
7. Be Sensitive to Others and Yourself
Don't use social media posts to criticize coworkers or air grievances. Also, even though our time spent at the office, working hard in our cubicles, comprises a major portion of our waking hours, don't use social media to post minute-by-minute work related updates. Finally, see how others interact with social media. Older workers may seldom touch bases with their Facebook accounts. Don't expect them to be following everything you post.
I expect that someday soon there will be a primer published that defines the appropriate social media etiquette for every situation. But until that happens, these 7 tips should serve you well.
Carrie Thompson is a marketing strategist for EQA Office Furniture, a California-based company selling office furniture such as office cubicles, office chairs, receptionist desks, conference tables, workstations and other cubicle office furniture. Free 3D virtual walkthroughs and package pricing can be found on the website.