Guide to social media rules of engagement

Social Media

Our Social Media Rules of Engagement series can help you get the most out of LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook — and help avoid major mistakes that make you look like an amateur.


One of the best, and most important, things about social media is that there are no hard and fast rules. There's no right or wrong way to use it. However, some social networks are better-suited for certain activities than others. 

Our Social Media Rules of Engagement series is designed to help you get the most out of LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Here are highlights from each of the five installments.

LinkedIn: No One Likes a Cold Call

No one likes to receive a cold call out of the blue, and the same is true for random connection requests on LinkedIn. Try to be considerate of peoples' time (and, perhaps, their foggy memories) by making sure that recipients know who you are, or at least why you think connecting on LinkedIn will result in meaningful value for all parties.

For additional LinkedIn rules of engagement, read "7 Common Mistakes Job Seekers Make on LinkedIn."

Twitter: Avoid Retweet and @Reply Binges

Side effects of extensive Twitter use include (but aren't limited to) momentary lapses in reason and the unexplainable urge to retweet every semi-clever tweet that flutters across your feed. Be selective with retweets and favorites, and only reply to tweets if you have something of value to add to the conversation.

For more Twitter rules of engagement, read "7 Things You Should Never Do on Twitter."

Instagram: Easy on the Hashtags

Hashtags can be fun, but when your Instagram caption full of them runs further down the screen than your photo or video, it's likely time for an intervention. It's easy to go overboard with hashtags that come off as boastful, condescending or outright awful. Rule of thumb: Hashtags shouldn't compete for attention with photos and videos.

For additional Instagram rules of engagement, please read "6 Ways You're Annoying People on Instagram."

Facebook: Set Realistic Expectations

Most people take Facebook way too seriously. It's out of hand, and I wish it would stop, but the fact (and reason why the site's so popular) is people are needy and Facebook has a special way of making everyone feel important. There's nothing wrong with that, unless you get angry or sad when something you share on Facebook doesn't receive as many Likes or comments as you expected.

For more Facebook rules of engagement, read "7 Reasons Friends Unfollow You on Facebook."

12 People We Love to Hate on Social Media

Of course, not everyone follows the rules…

Social media is, after all, a land of lawlessness, rife with ne'er-do-wells, social activists and overcompensating teenagers, as well as many of the world's most promising and brightest minds. These characters converge on social platforms, cloak themselves in anonymity, and unfortunately some of the worst behaviors imaginable come to the surface. You know the types, they are the "People We Love to Hate on Social Media."

This story, "Guide to social media rules of engagement" was originally published by CIO.

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