ImageIt finally happened – you and your employees are Facebook friends or following one another on Twitter. And while the initial friending/following process showed off some tidbits about their personality, photos, and what kind of music they like, the big reveal will be done through the status updates made and the tweets sent. They may be pretty low key or they may showcase a whole new side to the quiet-in-the-office staff member you thought you knew well.

Once a boss friend requests an employee on Facebook or Twitter, what comes next? How does a CEO or manager know when to hit “like” on a status or favorite a tweet, much less write an actual reply back that doesn’t start off by saying, “That’s a lovely story. You look so happy. I had a ham sandwich today for lunch and I’m heading to soccer with the boys this afternoon,” like a well-meaning but clueless on internet slang relative would?

If you’re ready to strike up a conversation peppered with hashtags, take my tips into consideration when it comes to chatting via social media with your team members.

Don’t Ignore ‘Em

You may be friends with employees who post frequently on topics ranging from a funny article they found about Oscar night gifs to a detailed account about a dream they had the other night and photos from their weekend at Disneyland. If you like what you see, give it a like or favorite it! Don’t ignore their postings or feel like you’re intruding on their territory by hitting the thumbs up button. Often this can make for great conversation together back in the office Monday morning that had you not of been friends through social media, you might not have had otherwise.

Less is More

Now that I’ve encouraged bosses to go for the liking and retweeting gold comes the tricky part: responding to a status or tweet that asks a question. Or doesn’t, and you’d still like to chime in with your own opinion. Skip the long winded friend of the family approach and keep your response short and sweet. Less is more (literally, as Twitter only allows you 140 characters to chatterbox it up anyway) and there is no need to go on and on. The last thing you want is to fall off on an unrelated side tangent or seem argumentative on a public platform. If you want to discuss a topic more in depth, there’s always the private messaging or DM option available to get extra feedback on.

Know Your Online Slang and Respond in Kind

To a degree, that is. No need for you to stay up all night tonight on UrbanDictionary.com researching every idiom to be born from Tumblr but if you see an abbreviation like “IKR” or “ILY” used on a Facebook status, look it up if you aren’t sure what it means. (Those two stand for “I know right” and “I love you” respectively.) Same goes for hashtags in the Twitterverse - those in particular when referenced in the wrong way can mean entirely different things.

Tuck that under your belt to use for later when leaving a comment or tweeting in reply – not only are they short enough to fit in the response, but it says a lot about an employer who makes an effort to relate to their team and engage them while staying true to the use of social media overall.