Social media isn't something we have to learn. We just have to apply what we already know to a new social environment. The same personal qualities and social skills that you (hopefully) learned growing up are what will make you successful at social media. Here are 10 things an older relative probably told you at some point that you can apply to social media.

  1. Mind your manners. Social media is still social. Even though we are interacting in a virtual space, the same traditional social rules, laws, and faux pas still apply. If you act like a jerk, don't expect many friends.
  2. Tuck in your shirt. How you present yourself is just as important in the virtual world as it is in the real world. Make sure you are always aware of how you appear to others.
  3. Send a thank you card. People still appreciate being appreciated. It really doesn't take much to convert an acquaintance to a friend, which will offer exponentially more value. A simple thank you, or any genuinely human interaction of gratitude goes a long way towards this goal.
  4. Keep your elbows off the table. Acting respectfully in front of others proves that you value them, which will usually make them value you more. And in social media, it's all about value.
  5. Turn your music down. Don't contribute to the noise. Listen to whatever you want in your own personal space, but when your personal preferences start to become a distraction to others, people will tune you out.
  6. Finish what you started. Any way you look at it, engagement is a commitment. When you make an effort to become part of a community, it's not only up to you when or how often you interact with other members. If you put yourself out there as a friend, be prepared to be there when people reach out to you.
  7. Finish your vegetables. There are some aspects of social media that aren't sexy. But that doesn't mean they aren't important to your growth and health. Make sure you are keeping up with the essentials, and not just chasing that buzz you get from a social sugar high.
  8. Whatever happened to a good old fashioned…? Sometimes all these new gadgets and thingamabobs aren't as important or effective as we make them out to be. Sometimes a good old fashioned email, phone call, or even in person “get-together” can accomplish things that social media can't.
  9. A man is only as good as his word. The currency of social media is trust (or social capital). And if people can't trust you, you have no value to them.
  10. Think twice before you speak. You can always say something, but you can never take it back. Especially in social media where everything you say can be heard by anyone, forever, there are just too many “finites” to not reconsider everything you say before you say it.

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