Picture this!

You are at a social gathering at a friend’s place – people are dressed for an occasion, large platters of delicate finger food are being passed around, a very nice groove is playing on the sound system and there are lots of interesting people to look at and meet.

Your hostess introduces you to a small group of people you have been itching to get to know all evening (just because they look interesting to you) and now, you have the opportunity to initiate conversation and find out more about them.

What would your conversation be about?

Well if it was me, I may begin by extending a compliment, or perhaps I would share something of interest that happened to me recently that I think might be entertaining, or I may mention how the hosts have a knack for throwing a really great party…

…or some other social banter.

And I would certainly ask them about themselves in an attempt to know more about these interesting people that caught my eye…

But I would never, never, never, thrust my business card at them, criticise them or make a comment that would offend or upset them, delve into their personal lives or ask a whole lot of boring questions that would certainly make them want to leave our conversation and move on somewhere else.

My intention here (remember I find these people interesting and want to get to know them) is to befriend them, have some light conversation and see if we have anything in common.

Isn’t that the way friendships start?

It may be news to you, but this is exactly the same way you want to approach anyone in your social networking circles.

After all, don’t you want to present yourself in your best possible light – friendly, warm, entertaining and gracious?

Attributes that will make others want to engage with you and together offer small insights as to the kind of people you are and see what each other has to offer? Remember, the objective here is to engage in conversation (not dominate) in the hope they will come back for more.

I am continually amazed by some of the conversations I see on the various social media platforms, particularly on Twitter.

Some tweeters have no idea about social media etiquette and are openly rude and bitchy to people they don’t even know (don’t they realise that everyone else can see these conversations?)

One particular instance I saw recently demonstrates a classic example of this: an approach was made to a well-known industry leader who we will call Simon by one of his followers who we will name Harry for some advice.

Simon replied promptly and in a courteous and very helpful manner giving Harry an answer to the information he has requested (information I thought would have been worth a private consultation.)

Nevertheless, what happened next was a tirade of negative comments from Harry slagging off Simon’s social media efforts and giving unwanted advice on what he should do about them!  This outburst came after Simon had been so kind in assisting with his expertise.

Harry’s comments were very negative and bordering on offensive – but the strange thing is I don’t think the intention was to offend.

It seems to me he was trying to give advice from his perspective as a social media manager:  he really should know better!

I think in a weird sort of way it was a pitch for business. But it came across as a rude display of hubris proving he was anything but an authority in the social media marketing world!

Quite frankly, I wouldn’t want this Social Media Manager anywhere near any of my social media platforms (or my party for that matter).

How awful would he be to my guests, embarrassing them with his nasty comments and ugly rhetoric?

If you want to see the perfect example of how to self-destruct ‘big time’ in the social media world just take a look at this major faux pas….it has to be the best self-sabotage around. 

Unbelievable – right?

This guy has definitely got more to worry about now than his wife and newborn…

His business under this identify is truly over (imagine having this dude at your party)…

Note to self: Remember social media etiquette rules at all times!

Every time you make a comment/tweet/post or say anything on any of your social networking platforms, it’s there for good and unless you make it a private conversation everyone is privy to it.

Every time you utter or mention anything it’s best to remember you are representing your brand or your company’s brand and it’s there forever, it doesn’t go away.  And we all know once the online word has been spoken, there’s no going back.

We have all got different opinions and we are entitled to present them, but in a manner that’s pleasing and agreeable. We will never agree with each other all of the time – that’s healthy,  what’s not healthy is a lack of respect and understanding for someone else’s viewpoint.

It is important to show some maturity and respect for others, whether it be mindful of their culture, language or personality and if you don’t agree with something that is being said, it might be a good to remember this simple maxim:

“Better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt”?

Leave the ‘nasties’ to the Internet Trolls – the miscreants with nothing better to do than trawl the internet in the pursuit of misery posting inflammatory comments to incite and upset others.

Have you come across these social networking etiquette manglers in your social media travels?

Would love to hear about them in the comments.