Netiquette for The Boss While on Twitter, Facebook, and Other Social Networks

Book of EtiquetteI was on LinkedIn yesterday and the LinkedIn search engine helpfully recommended a couple of people for me to add to my network.  The list included a couple of people who currently work at Matrix Group.  While it’s every CEO’s dream to have a large network, I did not invite the staff to get linked up.  Why?  Because I think that for bosses, managers,and CEOs, there are unwritten rules of netiquette. Here are some of the rules I abide by when using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social networks.

  • Except for a few direct reports, I don’t invite staff to be my friend or get linked up. I imagine that some staff would view an invitation from me as wanting to know too much about them; at the very least, it could be awkward if they don’t want to get linked up and they have to turn down a request from their boss.
  • I do accept invitations from staff to be my friend or get linked up. If they’re staff, they’re part of my extended family.
  • I don’t accept an invitation to get connected unless I actually know the person. Even on LinkedIn.  Random strangers are NOT going to get access to my network just because they want to link to me.
  • I do ask staff to follow this blog because I’m communicating with their clients through the blog and it’s always good for staff to know what the boss is broadcasting. :-)
  • I do ask staff to follow or fan the company’s pages on the social networking platforms.  I’m not asking for them to friend me, but I am asking them to support our social networking efforts.
  • I am never too casual in my updates. The updates are never too personal and I don’t use SMS speak, e.g., R U there? or Off 2 dinner.  I will use abbreviations like LOL (laughing out loud) or IMHO (in my humble opinion).
  • In general, I will follow people on Twitter who follow me (as well as a lot of other people I just find interesting), unless their profile photo shows too much skin, the tweets are too racy or adult, or the account has lots followers but no tweets.
  • I only post photos of me, my family, my friends, my staff and my clients where they look good.  Why would I want people I care about to look bad?  And if someone ever asks me to untag or remove a photo, I do it.
  • I never, ever post a status update that I will regret later. Even if my Facebook profile is mostly private, I figure someone, somewhere has access to my posts and there will be a security breach that undoes all privacy settings.  The other accounts are all public and I assume anything I post will be part of Google’s index forever.

How about you?  What are the social networking etiquette rule that you live by?  Any lessons learned?

2 thoughts on “Netiquette for The Boss While on Twitter, Facebook, and Other Social Networks

  1. These are great rules for bosses but really for anyone to follow. I’ve seen people post updates and then remove them a few minutes later because they were too personal, nonsensical or just not really appropriate. That can be embarrassing and awkward. Learning the dos and dont’s of social networking can be tricky–I definitely make mistakes as well–and it’s frustrating to know that, as you pointed out, there’s probably an archive somewhere ready to remind me of my mistake later on.

    I try to keep the mindset that what I post is available for anyone and everyone to see, despite my privacy and security settings. That way I stop and think, “Do I really want my boss/parent/future employer to see that?”

    All three of my supervisors are Facebook friends with me, and two of them follow me on Twitter (and I follow them). I enjoy it, but sometimes it can be weird, so I definitely have learned to think before I type.

  2. Katie, thanks for the great comment. I am Facebook friends with many of my staff and I love it. We comment on each other’s updates and links, we share photos, we tag each other, etc. The key thing is that they’re okay with this type of interaction, which is why I let them initiate the friending.

    And yes, I operate under the assumption that anything I post online, regardless of privacy settings, is on some server, some back-up, somewhere, forever. I think it’s a good rule for e-mail as well. How many times have I been unintentionally copied on an e-mail because the person selected the wrong Joanna, or I get a response to a forward but wasn’t supposed to see the original e-mail? Yikes!

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