Since social media is, well, a social medium, it’s important that users understand the proper ways to behave online. No, just because you’re behind a computer monitor in your mom’s basement doesn’t mean all social etiquette goes out the window. It’s quite the opposite—following proper social media etiquette is a key to being successful online (and to making sure you don’t make a complete idiot out of yourself.)

1. Give More than You Receive- If you want to receive attention from others online, you have to be willing to give it first. It’s the old “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” routine. You can’t bust onto a social media site with a sense of entitlement thinking you should be a top user immediately. You have to earn respect from others. How do you do this? By giving more than you receive.

2. Don’t be a Keyboard Gangsta- Probably the worst thing about the Internet is the keyboard gangstas. You’ve surely run across at least one of these in your lifetime. They sit at their keyboard talking trash to everyone they encounter. They say things online that they would never have the nerve to say to a real person’s face. Don’t try to ruin everyone else’s online experience because you don’t have any friends in real life.

3. Add Value to the Site- At the end of the day, the thing that will earn you great connections with others is if you add value to the community. This means not submitting content that nobody cares about and not constantly promoting your brand. Before you ever submit anything to a social media site, ask yourself “Does this article really add value to the community?” If not, reconsider submitting it.

4. Don’t Sabotage Other’s Efforts- This is self-explanatory. Drop all of your e-beefs and hatred. Don’t try to bury others just for the sake of getting ahead. Making enemies on social media sites will get you nowhere fast, and you really do reap what you sow.

5. Remember that Cheaters Never Win- Instead of trying to game the system, why don’t you focus on building a successful social media presence the right way. Sure, you might be able to get some amazing results by cheating, but eventually, you will get caught. And once everyone sees you for the cheater you are, you can’t un-ring that bell.

6. Build Quality Relationships- People are more willing to help those who they really know. By building quality relationships with other users, you’ll always have someone in your corner to back you up. Remember, relationships require the participation of both parties; so, always be a good participant in your social media relationship.

7. Stop Pushing the Envelope- One of the fastest ways to alienate people online is to constantly flood them with requests for helping you out. Whether you’re constantly shouting your content or always Tweeting asking people to comment on your blog, eventually, everyone will lose their patience with you. It’s like the boy who cried wolf. People will tune you out if you’re constantly pushing the envelope.

8. Respect the Community- This might be the most important rule of social media etiquette. Show respect to the community. It’s not that hard to do. Just make sure you don’t step out of line, and always treat everyone the way you want to be treated. These are simple social skills you should already be following in real life; now, you just have to follow them online too.

9. Listen to Others- Your first reaction whenever someone disagrees with you online is probably to tell them how wrong they are. Instead of constantly fighting back, take the time to listen to what they’re really saying. Listen to the people commenting on your blog or Tweeting at you. Understand where they’re coming from. You don’t know everything, and you can learn from others if you take the time to listen.

10. Be Accountable for Your Actions- Because of the anonymity the Internet allows, there is little to no accountability online. People say and do whatever they please without facing any repercussions. Don’t be that guy. Instead, try to be honorable by taking responsibility your actions online. By being accountable, people will respect you, whether they agree with you or not.

11. Be Nice- All of these points add up to one thing—just be nice. Is it really too much to ask for people to be kind to one another? Call me old-fashioned if you like, but there’s nothing wrong with being nice to others online.
What rules of social media etiquette would you add to the list? Share them in the replies!

Eric Brantner is a freelance copywriter serving small and medium-sized businesses from a wide range of industries. He is a regular writer at Digital Labz LLC a Internet Marketing Company offering Online marketing for small business.

46 Responses to “The 11 Rules of Social Media Etiquette”

  1. Arthur Brown says:

    These are great rules to conduct yourself by when engaging in social media. I especially like the last one that is one that should be done even off line.

  2. “Be nice” has been my mantra forever, I’ve been waxing lyrical about it in the context of social media and online activities recently, but it’s always been there…it’s fundamental in all walks of life.

  3. Jeff Howard says:

    I would like to suggest adding 12) Keep expectations realistic. If a marketers think the world of social media and anticipates it will bring them riches, they are wrong. Its should been seen one aspect of a marketing campaign.

  4. It’s telling that you had to write 11 rules; the fact that you had to be so specific is an indictment of the way all too many people use social media. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we only needed rule #11?

  5. Very good list, I agree!

  6. […] 2. There are No Rules- Another misconception is that there are no rules to social media. Some people believe they can do and say whatever they want without consequences. The truth is the community knows what everyone is up to. If they see you’re a shameless self-promoter, you’ll be buried. You’re better off following the rules of social media etiquette. […]

  7. Thanks for a great summary of these rules. I am just starting out with social media and I am still finding my way around. However, I’ve lived through usenet newsgroups and web 1.0 and it seems that these same rules always need to be learned. As Paul said above, it would be nice if all we needed was #11 (that is the golden rule after all).

    One of the things that I’m struggling with is finding a way to promote myself without falling into the category of a “shameless self-promoter”. I find it hard to build up the network of friends since I’m somewhat of a introvert (my blog name is LoneWolf for a reason 8=) but I understand the importance of taking time with and for other people.


  8. CJ Guest says:

    Great set of social media etiquette rules! I’m particularly mindful of #1. In the past I have been somewhat of a shameless self-promoter in my offline relationships. I’ve had to curb that tendency online. For instance, I’ve adopted Chris Brogan’s 12-to-1 rule on Twitter, where I make sure that I promote 12 tweets about others to every 1 tweet about myself. This rule also helps me with #3, by submitting only my best blog-posts for the community, which adds value.

  9. Bored says:

    Great List! Not only do these rules apply to social media, but they apply to any sort of social interaction. Great stuff, thanks

  10. val says:

    Se você esta procurando marketing digital visite

  11. Karyn German says:

    Good heavens, yes! Especially to #11. I am routinely appalled by some of the behavoirs I see on social media sites and even done by someone representing his or her well-known company. Common sense can indeed fly out the window, I suppose.

  12. Debbie Lewis says:

    The power of nice is — well, extremely powerful. Thanks for your thoughtful list.

  13. Pam West says:

    Thanks for this – really useful to a social media newbee!!!!

  14. Delaney Kirk says:

    I just unfollowed someone who uses the “F” word every other tweet…the last time in a tweet mentioning his wife and young daughter. Would he want them to read this?

  15. Haresh says:

    It’s a really good list of basic rules of online etiquette. It’s not exhaustive, though. Yet, it’s the best list I’ve come across about basic rules.

  16. […] gab to connect online. Smart companies are granting freedom along with some outlined parameters. Digital Labz, a search engine optimization and marketing company, put together a list of rules for engaging in […]

  17. Jennifer Marko says:

    Thank you for a great summary. I specifically did a search to see if others agreed with my view on how rude and nasty people are when they feel “anonymous” online. Your last two entries were exactly my take on this situation. I will link to this post from my Facebook and Twitter accounts to spread the word.

  18. Rodney Wayne says:

    Social media marketing without authentic personal branding is bull

  19. […] is being superfluous means you stand out, like an alien. The world of social media also has its own unspoken protocol and customs about connecting. Being a trusted member takes time. one needs to feel the ropes, […]

  20. […] Online- und Suchmaschinenexperte Eric Brantner hat im Blog von Digital Labz ( ) elf Verhaltensregeln aufgelistet, die ein kommunikationsfreudiger Surfer unbedingt einhalten […]

  21. CalCal says:

    Thanks for these. Im doing a science project on how social media.

  22. Sabine says:

    I am really shocked that some people out there don’t seem to know the simplest rules of society

    you shouldn’t behave different online than in the real world etiquette wise

    I guess some typos are understandable but if someone is constantly spelling wrong posts are really hard to read

    oh and i think i am going to link to this on my page

  23. cozzas says:

    Thank you for posting these social media etiquette tips. It is very important to have respect in the social community and, I agree with your assessment. Thank you again. Excellent post!

  24. Louis says:

    I totally agree with this. I did UN follow some people that have bad links to sites that don’t make any sense.

  25. […] learning social media etiquette. Here are a couple of links to some online etiquette resources: 11 Rules and Ultimate Social Media […]

  26. Susanna says:

    Great list. Social Media Etiquette should be a required read! I am going to tweet your link now. I wish I could send it directly to a few followers:)

  27. […] Social Media is for Tweens, Teens and Twenty Somethings. According to Facebook’s statistics page, more than two-thirds of users are outside of college, and the fastest growing demographic are […]

  28. I couldn’t agree more! I was searching on bing when I found your post, and I found just what I was looking for. I’ve added your rss feed to my Google reader, I look forward to more posts from you. Thanks!

  29. […] post The 11 Rules of Social Media Etiquette  by Eric Brantner presents a great template to model your social media efforts […]

  30. Excellent list. Very concise and yet the most effective ways to stay good-mannered not just in social media but with all kinds of online interactions.

  31. Mary says:

    This website post presented me a full load of suggestions, many thanks for sharing

  32. […] social media is, well, a social medium, it’s important that users understand the proper ways to behave online. […]

  33. […] The 11 Rules of Social Media Etiquette […]

  34. […] 11 Rules of Social Media Etiquette: […]

  35. […] all the ‘Golden Rules‘, ‘New Rules‘, ‘Simple Rules‘, ‘THE Rules‘, and ‘Tips‘, I have come up with my own list of rules I think every organisation […]

  36. Lesley says:

    Great list and everything on here is still very relevant two years later!
    Thanks! I am linking this to my FB page. Lesley

  37. Erin Gilmore says:

    I really enjoyed this article. Thank you so much.

  38. […] The 11 Rules of Social Media Etiquette […]

  39. social media within an organization that truly embraces the pure “essence” of conversations is not that difficult.

  40. Excellent post, i belive blog posts like this add so much value to the marketing community,i have learnt some valuable info from you. Keep it Up! Sincerely, The Social Media Trainer

  41. […] The 11 Rules of Social Media Etiquette […]

  42. Ellen Pouw says:

    I agree totally, and I will share this post.

    Thanks for this post

  43. I have been reading this post several times, and I really like the way you promote ethics and value contents over the internet. Etiquette favours peaceful coexistence and richness of expression, and the cyberspace is no exception!
    Bonus points for how you broke down the (again) eleven points.
    Very interesting approach!

  44. Okan Baykal says:

    I totally agree! and I will share this post.
    Every person who is active in Social Media world should know the rules of social media etiquette
    Thanks for this post!

  45. WandaSue says:

    I am in favor of these rules, thank you for sharing them. Hopefully people will read and implement, I use these daily as a good rule to practice offline as well, why be any different than what you are online vs. offline, thank you again and I posted a link back here because of the rules it will help to get the word out. WandaSue

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