The 10 Commandments of social media

  • Article by: SCOTT KLEINBERG and AMY GUTH , Chicago Tribune
  • Updated: September 29, 2013 - 4:09 PM

Mastering social networks can sometimes feel like trying to part the Red Sea. Let this bible of social media tips guide you.

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Do no work on the seventh day of the week. Do not steal. Honor your parents. All good advice that has stood the test of time.

But as social networks continue to grow, it seems fitting to create a separate set of commandments. Here, we give it our best shot along with a quick explanation of each.

1. Thou shall not use the hashtag in vain. You know those photos on Instagram that have 20 hashtags attached to them? Yeah, that’s too many. A general rule of thumb on any social media platform: Limit each post to one hashtag, two if absolutely necessary and never three.

2. Thou shall not steal. Use RT. Share. But never steal someone else’s content and pass it off as your own. People talk, and your secret will be discovered.

3. Honor your friends. When someone you know posts great content, show them you appreciate it by sharing or retweeting. It takes one second, and there’s no higher compliment you can pay someone on social media. While you’re at it, wish them a happy birthday when Facebook alerts you.

4. Do not work on the seventh day — or whenever you have something else to do. Thanks to automated services such as Buffer and Hootsuite, you still can enjoy your free time by planning your posts on your schedule. It is best to check in on your posts just in case anything goes wrong.

5. Do not kill. Or in this case, do not delete. Let’s use Twitter as an example: If you make a mistake, don’t delete it. Tweet again with the correct information. Doing it this way ensures you are being as transparent as possible and no one can accuse you of hiding anything.

6. Thou shall not use snark as a default setting. Somewhere along the way, funny and sassy remarks veered into the territory of rudeness. Don’t get us wrong, crazy-funny is crazy-fun, but when it’s a put-down, it’s hurtful.

7. Thou shall not succumb to “new, shiny object” syndrome. A new social media platform pops up and it’s all the rage, but you just don’t dig it. That’s OK. Just because it’s new doesn’t mean you have to love it or use it. Trust yourself, and use the tools that are right for you. That said ...

8. Thou shall be open to new things. When it comes to social media, change is the only constant. Facebook and Twitter will always add new features. You don’t have to love them, but try to have an open mind. And consider how you might use them before jumping in on the inevitable chorus of complaints (see No. 6).

9. Thou shall not navel-gaze. It is the social part that makes social media work. But constantly updating your statuses with “me me me, I I I” is going to get old to even your best friend.

10. Thou shall regularly check and update privacy settings. Like any routine maintenance, your social networks need the same kind of regular check-in to make sure your privacy settings are in line with how you use social media.□

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