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Social Media Etiquette

Four social media dos and don'ts

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.

Follow these rules

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:

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  2. 1. 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.

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  4. 2. 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.

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  6. 3. 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.

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  8. 4. 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.

Video: Social Media Guidelines (Duration 1:45 Min., Video in German)

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