Social Networking: 7 Big Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Social Networking: 7 Big Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

By Michele Connolly

Participating in social networks is a bit like being on a reality TV show.

· Everything you say is public

· Once it’s out there, it’s out there

· It’s easy to get voted off (other people’s friend/follow/connection lists).

To help you manage social networking, here are seven of the biggest mistakes people make, along with tips to help you avoid them.

Mistake 1: Failing to observe the local customs.

If you’re new to a network, take a little time to lurk and learn. Ideally, watch someone you respect and follow their lead on the local etiquette.

For instance, on Twitter when you @reply to someone (versus messaging them privately) it’s polite to mention the topic so others aren’t excluded.

Mistake 2: Seeing a social network as a market for hawking your wares.

Depending on the network, rampant self-promotion can lose you friends, get your account suspended, or have you banned.

Instead, provide value to your network-mates by being entertaining, informative or helpful. If your overall contribution is high, then there may (depending on the local rules) be room for a little promotion, too.

Mistake 3: Being insincere.

Social networks don’t interfere with the functioning of phoniness detectors. People see right through the tactics of disingenuous networkers.

Authenticity and transparency are the buzzwords of Web 2.0. Be yourself.

Mistake 4: Using the network as a forum for personal expression.

Complaining about your mother-in-law, providing minute-by-minute updates on the minutiae of your daily emotions or broadcasting zit updates is unlikely to win you friends and followers.

Unless you can do it in a way that edifies, entertains or empathises, it’s best to save this stuff for a journal. Or therapist.

Mistake 5: Being insensitive.

Religion, sex and politics are perennial hot potatoes. If you’re looking for a finger-burning carb fix then great. Otherwise, be extremely tactful or avoid these areas altogether.

Mistake 6: Lobbing tennis balls.

Know someone who asks vague, lazy questions that put the ball in your court to engage meaningfully? You click their profile and see the exact same ‘How are you doing?’ message sent to 20 other people.

Social networks are a great way to connect – but treat each person as the individual they are. If you want to engage, take responsibility for finding a genuine point of contact. You’ll be more likely to get a response and make a connection.

Mistake 7: Having a boring profile.

If you want your social networking dance card to fill up, make an effort. Don’t have a bio that reads ‘Since my birth in 1972 I’ve been –“. SNORE!

People invest a tiny amount of time deciding whether or not to add you to their social network. Make it easy for them by keeping your profile uncluttered and interesting. Include your photo. Consider using your real name.

Avoid these mistakes and you’ll be less likely to get voted off the island. Instead, you might just find yourself with the prize – a great network of people!


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