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A Graceful Guide to Social Media Conduct

August 30, 2016


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More Awkward Than Your High School Prom

Imagine this: you have been granted the invitation to the most coveted social gala of the year. The chance to mingle with the influential leaders and power houses of the decade is something most would sell their souls to on Craigslist. Not wanting to disappoint, you put on your game face and arrange the perfect ensemble: a stained college hoodie that's two sizes too small, the ripped jeans your ex puked on months ago, and the broken sandals that shows the lack of professional ambition. Forget the putrid smells emitting from shower abstinence. You're ready to make the impression of the decade!

Sounds embarrassingly jarring, right? Laugh all you want but your Facebook profile might say otherwise. While most people bulldoze through their social profile with reckless abandon, the fact is anyone with a broadband connection is giving off a digital impression to friends, acquaintances, and complete strangers. So, unless you're a billionaire social mogul like Mark Zuckerberg, it's time to polish up your digital apperance. Let these steps turn you into the coveted digital connoisseur of the year (or at least for a few days until you change your profile pic).

Take Notes, You Social Junky You

  • Your avatar (whether Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare etc) should be an up-to-date pic of yourself. Get that “professional photographer” friend of yours to do a simple profile shot. Even a properly lit Photo Booth capture is doable. Let it be recognizable enough to have people accept your friend requests with ease.
  • You don't talk to giant logos at parties or befriend TV cartoons at art installations (and if you do, I want your life). Otherwise, it's best to leave your personal logo out of your profile picture (try using the Timeline graphic, photo albums, or linking your Behance portfolio to Facebook to promote your work).
  • Remember those photos you were tagged in three years ago for passing out on your friend's front yard after the umpteenth keg stand? Or that tweet where you grilled that sports team with f-bombs like the Fourth of July? Now might be the time to do a little “Social Spring Cleaning.”
  • While promoting yourself or personal brand, remember to promote others. Link people's Twitter accounts to positive comments, share that cool Vimeo motion graphic your coworker did, and always be the one who drives the discussions on your Tumblr blog. They, in turn, will promote you as well.
  • It's easy to get excited about something every minute and want to share it with the world. Just try not to document too much noise on your Facebook or Tweets Feed (I really could care less if you Foursquared your position at a Seven Eleven, Starbucks, and the fifteen minutes...). Too much noise could lead to an increase in “unfollowings.”
  • You know what's the second worst thing to Comic Sans saturation? Caps locks. Third worst thing? When acronyms are more abundant that actual words. Unless you enjoy deciphering simple sentences like war code and being yelled at (Samuel L. Jackson being the exception), try not to blast other people's social feeds Kanye-style and three “LOLZ” (or try doing it all in Comic Sans and see what happens. You have been warned).
  • If you've been socially wronged in the digital frontier, it's as simple as clicking “Unfollow”, “Delete Friend,” or “Remove Comment” links. While often hilarious, reading a live altercation on a Facebook status can go from counter-productive to the “Watching Car Wreck” scenario.
  • Constantly update your profile. It shows your engaged in the digital community and involved in presenting your best current self (so those three employers you haven't listed yet on LinkedIn? Get at it!). 

Why Are You Still Reading? Quickly, To Your Social Profile!

Of course, these are merely guidelines with obvious exceptions. Maybe your followers respect you more when you clutter their newsfeeds with ten Instagram photos of yourself doing the “Myspace Pic.” Just remember: treat your digital social life BETTER than your actual social life since it's all recorded for everyone to see and share. If you think I've left anything important out or think I'm writing “snotty bull---- from the darkroom because that's what the angry do nowadays” (thank you Erika Albright, The Social Network), leave it in the comments section below!

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