Social Media Etiquette

The various social networks or social media, offer new opportunities for entertainment, information gathering and self-promotion. In contrast to the traditional media outlets such as radio, TV and print, users of social media themselves have a direct influence on the content.

Content can be jointly created, transformed and disseminated, as part of reciprocal exchanges. Creating content in social networks thus goes far beyond merely distributing texts, pictures or videos: It is determined by social character. Companies are taking advantage of this new means of digital communication and are using it in their marketing so that they can exchange ideas with customers as well as employees.

Four great tips for handling social networks

By using blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc. you have a great opportunity to engage in two-way communications with others, but there are some rules you need to observe:

  • The Internet is not a "legal vacuum": In the virtual world, the ripple effect is significantly greater and the shelf-life of digital statements is considerably longer than is the case with oral communications. Tactless remarks or unflattering photos are quickly shared and sharp-tongued comments take on a life of their own. This can quickly lead to considerable negative momentum. You should also always keep in mind the legal consequences of any statements and stick to the facts of any discussion. Don't get drawn into making personal comments or remarks. Be respectful in your dealings with third parties and refrain from defaming (former) colleagues or your current employer. Don't simply react. Carefully consider any replies or remarks, because you will have to face the consequences of your actions.
  • There are group rules for social media: Make sure your style and the way you express yourself are appropriate for your given audience. Take the time to find out what rules or forms of etiquette exist for each respective platform – and always remember how you would like to be spoken to yourself. The wrong tone or a series of disconnected statements can trigger a furore that, not infrequently, leads to irreparably damaged reputations.
  • Keep your business and private contacts separate: All platforms and networks allow you to set privacy preferences for who can see your content. Don't accept every contact and "friend request" you receive. Instead, ask yourself why this or that person wants to be connected with you. Using social networks, you can be in contact with customers, colleagues or other employees of your company as well as build up a global network of contacts.
  • Be professional: Due to the casual nature of most social media and particularly when it comes to leisure platforms such as Facebook or Snapchat, addressing individuals by their first names is more acceptable than, say, when communicating within business networks like XING or LinkedIn. For these platforms it is best to stick to titles and surnames when communicating with others. Always ask yourself: "How would I prefer to be addressed?" Also remember when posting or retweeting items on Twitter that the Internet never forgets and your content can still be accessed years into the future. You definitely don't want to be embarrassed in your later professional life by something you posted years before.

What social networks are available?

Business networks are actively used by many companies when looking for new personnel.
For anyone who is actively visible as a prospective candidate, his or her behaviour and contributions to discussions will decide whether or not they come across as a good potential employee. Around 70 per cent of companies check potential candidates against how they have presented themselves on the Internet and via contact networks such as Google and social media.

The following will give you an overview of the most important social media platforms:

  • XING:
    Make sure you include the right company terms and job titles. And only use a professional photograph for your profile. Otherwise, should a company compare your application documents with your social media presence, this can lead to possible inconsistencies. In XING, you may find company updates interesting and / or share these with your direct contacts. Join one of the many groups on XING and you can be acknowledged as a competent and well-informed influencer and thus highlight your expertise.
     
  • LinkedIn:
    With LinkedIn you have another avenue for building a global network of professional business contacts. The same rules as XING also apply here. Make sure that new contacts cannot automatically see your existing contacts. Ensure that you avoid spelling errors and carefully consider how posting company news and information or status updates may impact on others.
     
  • Facebook:
    As a platform with a decidedly social character, Facebook really only has a limited usefulness for business activities. Primarily, Facebook is a social meeting point heavily marked by infotainment (information + entertainment). This can include, for example, for news, photo galleries, cartoons and videos. However, make sure you thoroughly check out the Facebook page for your dream company before you go to interview with them. Companies often use this social media platform for their digital corporate communications. In addition to company news and features, you can often find valuable background information that provides a first glimpse into everyday company life and the company's philosophy.
     
  • Twitter:
    News and current events from around the world dominate on Twitter. Have you ever tried to write a 140-character comment or "tweet" before? The motto here is "Keep it short and sweet". You can participate in discussions about current economic issues or make comments, known as "tweets", including appropriate hashtags (#), which help categorise comments.

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