Social Media Etiquette

Behavioral code for social networks

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. Because of this, content creation goes far beyond the distribution of texts, images or videos, and is largely determined by social character.

Four golden rules for using social networks

Through the use of blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc. the opportunity exists to engage in two-way communication, but there are some rules that need to be observed:

  • The Internet is not a legal vacuum: The rippling effect and longevity of virtual statements are significantly greater and longer than is the case with oral statements. Tactless remarks or unflattering photos are quickly shared and sharp tongues develop a momentum all their own. 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.
  • Get to know the community: Be sure to use the appropriate style and manner of expression for your given target group. 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 professional and private contacts separate: On every platform and every network you can adjust your privacy settings and decide who can and can't see your content. Don't just accept every contact that comes your way. Instead, you should enquire as to what that person's intentions are and why they decided to contact you.
  • Stay professional: Due to the informal nature of social media, first names are often used, especially on platforms with a decidedly informal feel such as Facebook or Snapchat. On other, more professional platforms such as XING or LinkedIn, this is less the case. For such sites, it is best to stick to last names with titles. If in doubt, ask yourself, "How would I like to be addressed in a professional environment by a complete stranger?". When creating a post or retweeting material, always remember that the Internet never forgets – any content you post will be available for years to come. And in your later professional life, you definitely don't want to be embarrassed by something you posted years before.

Overview of networks

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 employment prospect. Approximately 70% of companies check to see what sort of Internet presence and contacts their applicants have. Below we're providing an overview of the most popular social media channels:

  • 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 content, this could lead to uncomfortable discrepancies. On XING, you can find interesting company updates or share these with your direct contacts through recommendations. Join one of the many groups on XING and you can be acknowledged as a competent and well-informed influencer.
  • LinkedIn: With LinkedIn you can make professional connections on the international stage. 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, it's a social meeting point heavily marked by infotainment (information + entertainment). 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 an interview with them. 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 current economic issues or make statements, known as "tweets", including appropriate hashtags (#), which help categorise comments.

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