50 Ways to be a Good Social Media Citizen

Photo by HazelthePikachu

A lot of people tell me that they really find it hard to know how to be a helpful entity in the online space. There is so much contradictory advice, and then each situation seems to be a little bit different- different enough that you’re not really 100% sure what the right move is.

It is with these folks in mind that I thought I would compile 50 rules that I live by. Now, I’m making the perhaps overly optimistic assumption that I am considered a good social media citizen, but beyond that hurdle, I think you might find at least a few of these ideas helpful. So here we go!

  1. Write as if your grandmother could see everything you’re saying.
  2. Read what you’ve written before you hit “send” or “publish.”
  3. Act as if people will be able to find what you’ve said anywhere. Because they can.
  4. Ask if you’d say what you’re tweeting face-to-face.
  5. Offer others the benefit of the doubt.
  6. Do not build yourself up by pushing others down.
  7. Accentuate the positive.
  8. Remember that pointing a finger means three are pointing back at you.
  9. Always try to be helpful.
  10. Do not be afraid to show emotion, but don’t bleed all over the Internet.
  11. Do not assume anyone is less knowledgeable than you.
  12. Don’t judge a person by their avatar photo.
  13. Make “the ask” sparingly and with purpose.
  14. Say thank you more than please.
  15. Try to connect with one new person every day.
  16. Make sure your blog readers/commenters know you appreciate their time.
  17. Do not take your valued connections for granted.
  18. Read before sharing.
  19. Read carefully before arguing or bashing.
  20. Walk your talk.
  21. Only say what you are willing to stand by.
  22. Do not assume anyone will read your words in your intended context.
  23. Remember that shining the light on someone else is twice as powerful as shining the light on yourself.
  24. Be proud but not a braggart.
  25. Accept criticism if it is offered thoughtfully and kindly.
  26. Offer criticism with kindness and care.
  27. Stand up for someone if you see they’re being treated unjustly.
  28. Do not set people up for failure with trick questions or false dichotomies.
  29. Do not follow others blindly.
  30. Do not ask that others follow you blindly.
  31. Do not be afraid to change your mind.
  32. Always look for something to learn.
  33. Do not ignore a person just because they do not have a big online footprint.
  34. Don’t worry too much about your Klout score. Clout carries you further.
  35. Write from the heart, edit with your head.
  36. Be willing to forgive other people just as you want to be forgiven.
  37. Before jumping into a fray, make sure you are 100% familiar with all sides.
  38. Remember that people can’t hear your tonality. A joke may not seem funny to others.
  39. Go above and beyond in supporting others now and then.
  40. Do not look for black or white. More often than not there’s a grey area.
  41. Be open to new perspectives.
  42. Embrace the opportunity to meet people with differing views and opinions.
  43. Acknowledge that you don’t have to know everything.
  44. Accept defeats and victories with equal amounts of grace.
  45. Remember that social media is a piece of the pie, not the whole pie.
  46. Focus on quality, not quantity.
  47. Don’t forget that most Twitter “followers” are spambots or empty accounts.
  48. Do not tag others on Facebook unless you wish to be tagged.
  49. If there’s a question about whether you should share something publicly, don’t share it publicly.
  50. Be kind out of your own desire, not out of a desire to get popular.

These rules work pretty well for me. What rules would you add to the list? Let’s see if we can make it to 100!