Social media etiquette refers to the guidelines that companies and individuals use to preserve their reputation online.

As social media channels have evolved to become one of the primary ways people communicate in the modern world on a daily basis, typical social rules are finding their way into digital environments.

Just as social etiquette dictates how people behave around others in the real world, social media etiquette revolves around online guidelines to follow.

The basics of social media etiquette

The demands of social media etiquette differ from one platform to the next. For example, reposting someone’s content on Instagram requires much more care than retweeting someone on Twitter.

On the flip side, there are some basic dos and don’ts that essentially apply to all platforms:

  • Don’t be overly promotional. Try not to message all your customers asking them to buy your products and avoid sharing constant advertisements on your page. Make your social profiles a blend of promotional and valuable content.
  • Avoid over-automation. While scheduling your posts in advance and automating analytics is helpful, don’t automate everything. Some things still need a human touch.
  • Handle your hashtags carefully. Avoid using too many hashtags at once. Even on Instagram, where you can use 30 hashtags in a single caption, it’s important not to overdo it.
  • Don’t bad-mouth your competition. Don’t be petty. Saying negative things about your competitors online will harm your reputation more than it hurts theirs.
  • Be authentic and genuine. Don’t try to be something you’re not. Remember that your customers can learn whatever they need to know about your brand online today and things like authenticity can definitely go a long way.

Why is social media etiquette important?

Organizations can’t just delete messages that generate poor reactions anymore. A single mistake can make or break a business.

Social media etiquette is often baked into the rules of a social media policy for modern brands. This policy usually shares a complete code of conduct for anyone who interacts with a social channel:

  • Protect against legal and security issues. If you exist in an industry with stringent privacy and compliance laws, your system will keep you on the right side of the regulations.
  • Empower staff. When your employees know how to share content safely online, they can represent and advocate for your organization, without harming your reputation.
  • Defend your brand. Social etiquette ensures that everyone who interacts with your brand on social media will see a respectable, professional business.