Here's my list of five social networking faux pas, shared to keep the peace, and when avoided, to help you keep your followers and fans, well, your followers and fans, instead of a string of exes.
- Never spell check or double check before posting
Go ahead. Always use "women" when you're talking about just one. Spell quiet as quite. Use your and you're interchangeably or incorrectly. Mix up their, there and they're, and too and to. It's not just the grammar ninjas who notice. It could be your boss, potential employer, or a client who is rubbed the wrong way....
- Retweet and share without checking the content first
You see an interesting tweet or Facebook post, and you immediately RT or share it without reading it. And it turns out to be a scam, or an out-of-date/inaccurate article from 1990. Ouch. We follow you for a reason, and while RTing and sharing content doesn't mean that you endorse that point of view or content, it does imply that you've at least read what you're sharing and find it of interest, which means that we might find it of interest too.
- Drop the f-bomb and other expletives frequently and indiscriminately in your online communications
So let's just be blunt here. I know a lot of swear words. I use some of them occasionally when I drop something heavy on my toe or someone is chatting on the cell phone and cuts me off on the freeway, but I don't share them with my social graph. Everyone over the age of 11 knows the majority of these words and phrases too. What I don't want, and I'd bet the majority of your fans, followers, friends, colleagues and relatives don't want, is to see them in "print" in your tweets, Facebook updates, or blog posts. Unless you're writing some gritty dialog for your novel, or directly quoting someone, it's distracting. Drowns out your message. Swallows your voice. Makes people wonder if your vocabulary is so limited that you can't come up with some meaty synonyms. Is that really what you want?
- Start flame wars
Everyone has opinions, and we're free to share them in much of the world. But part of that freedom, is, or at least should be, the responsibility to let others share their opinions, respectfully. You don't have to agree, but let's move past the name calling, okay?
- Share your prejudices with your social network
If you have them, keep them to yourself, okay?
NPR just posted a disturbing article, Haters Gonna Hate, As Shown On A Map. California State University, Humboldt, geography professor, Monica Stephens, and a team of undergrads spent a year sorting through and mapping racial slurs on Twitter by location. You can argue with her team's conclusions, but the ultimate lesson doesn't change: Don't do it. Ever.