PR Start by Nick Lucido

How to start in the public relations industry.

Social Media Etiquette

For someone just entering the social media sphere, like many of my friends and colleagues at MSU and PRSSA, there’s a couple of important things to remember. While there are many cool things about sharing content on Twitter and other social networks, it’s easy to make mistakes, too.

One of my favorite bloggers and colleagues is Shannon Paul. Not only did she write a great post on how not to be that guy in social media and did a presentation on it, too. Here’s the Slideshare version:

I’ve come up with some tips and reminders for the younger crowd on how to participate. I think many of us do know how to participate, but there’s some preventable errors we all make. Check out this list:

Consistency is key

As part of branding yourself, it’s important to be consistent. This doesn’t only apply to keywords, titles and social networking user names, but it also applies to your personality throughout the Web. Primarily, this is concerned with our wacky college lifestyle and how professionals use social networks. The biggest thing I’ve run into is my Facebook “personality” versus the “personality” I show on Twitter, LinkedIn and my blog. So, you have two options: keep Facebook for social uses, or add it to your list of general networking tools. I went with the latter. This article sums up Facebook use pretty well.

When is it OK to tweet?

Sharing information is one of the best things about social media, but it can get you into trouble. If you caught the story about an agency employee posting a negative tweet regarding the city where their client is located, it’s a perfect example about posting the wrong thing at the wrong time. The recap is here. It’s good to have a personality online, but make sure that when you’re sarcastic or joking around, people won’t always take it as a joke.

Also, especially as an intern or entry-level employee, it’s important to make sure you should not be revealing or announcing any client information that should not be revealed. If you let any detail slip, it might ruin your media or audience outreach strategy. Whenever you post something about your client online, make sure it’s OK with your supervisor.


When anyone asks me why I’m on Twitter, Digg, StumbleUpon, etc., I say that I like reading and finding new information.. basically, a news junkie. And that’s the beauty of the Internet – you’re able to find all the information you’ll ever need. But remember, share other information more than you share your own content. You’ll quickly find out how soon you lose credibility if you shamelessly self promote yourself all day long.


As interns, it’s cool to share the projects you’re working on with your fans. But just because you are an intern doesn’t mean you don’t have to disclosure your affiliation with the client. Frankly, it’s not ethical when you fail to disclose the relationship. Be honest and upfront when you’re working on a client project and make sure that you’re not getting your company into trouble.

Networking – old school style

As a student, you’re probably using social media to build your network and learn. I know I am. Make sure that while you’re building your network online, you’re doing it in the right way. Remember that relationships are built through conversation and helping others out. These same principles apply online, too. For some tips on how to take this network offline, I wrote a guest post on Rachel Esterline’s blog about the importance of an offline networking – check it out.

One last rule of thumb

In my public relations techniques class last week, we talked about ethics regarding media relations. We came to the conclusion that if you don’t want your e-mail conversations or any other written communication on the front page of The New York Times, then you probably shouldn’t be saying it. The same goes with social media. If you’re talking about how drunk you were last night or how much you hate your boss, chances are all the wrong people are going to see it. It’s not a chance you should be willing to take.

There you have it, some tips and advice when it comes to social media. Any other tips? Have you seen these mistakes being made?


Filed under: Professional Development, PRSSA, Public Relations, Social Media, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

7 Responses

  1. […] the original post:  Social Media Etiquette Rate this topic: (No Ratings Yet) Tagged with: [ advertising, article, career, etiquette, […]

  2. Michael Long says:


    You make some good points on this. The days when we could say something and have it fade away are gone… and that is kind of hard to swallow for some people. Just imagine the political campaigns of the future when candidates are judged based on Twitter posts they made 20 years prior. This could get interesting!


  3. bpb says:

    social media is a great tool to promote transparency and honest lines of communication for companies. for individuals to use it properly and effectively however, it’s really a tug-of-war between veiled professionalism and genuine personality. for example, if everyone on twitter started to sound like a commercial (and most people already do), people would lose interest. but while maintaining a personality is key, nothing can save you if you claim that your sole profession is to increase my followers. please.

    the point that michael makes is important; most of us are now publicly sharing our thoughts, actions, photos, videos and anything that pops up in between with entities that can keep said information forever. there is a reason why these sites pay huge lawyer fees to keep their TOS ironclad, so its a constant battle between being careful & keeping it fun.


  4. Shannon Paul says:

    Lots of good advice here for students looking to wade into the murky waters of using social media for business and networking purposes beyond just “playing” on the internet — although a little playing is good, too. And, sometimes even sarcasm and jokes are great — those things (even when they cause us to lose a follower or two) can be the X factor that makes us who we are (or not). 🙂 This is why so many people find it tricky. As much as I believe that “that guy” doesn’t work, there are no hard and fast rules, we can only share what works for us. It’s always up to the individual to be themselves and share who they are with others who may be interested.

    Thanks also for the kind words — I appreciate them very much. 🙂

  5. Evan Roberts says:

    I gotta say I love that you tie it back in to ethics. Using social media is personal branding and you want your brand to have personality but also you want to be known for ethical participation in the conversation. I love seeing the #journchat tweets with people saying where they’re from, who they work for or what they are studying, and also the phrase “IMHO” which I recently found out means “In my humble opinion.”

    B- you are on the money with “being careful and keeping it fun.” I think more students and professionals need to heed this advice, because you never know what can come up in a Google search for your handle.

  6. Becky Johns says:

    Ben makes a good point about shameless self promotion via social media. It gets annoying quickly and is easy to spot. Sometimes it’s a little harder to find people promoting more hidden agendas, but after a while it all becomes apparent.

    Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that social media shold be the real you. If you want to see me in a strictly professional manner, ask for my resume or get on LinkedIn. But, I like that people can get inside my head a little with things like Twitter and Facebook. Of course, I’m always mindful of what I’m sharing/posting/tagging because I know that the internet can get anyone any bit of information they want to know. I think of it this way, if I were sitting in an interview for my dream job, and the interviewer turned their computer screen around to something I put on the internet, would I be embarassed? If the answer is yes to something I consider posting, I don’t do it. The same should go for if your parents, clients, friends, boss, etc seeing something you post.

    I guess a good rule of thumb is to remeber that everything you say online can (and might!) be shared with people of influence in your life. So make your online impression just as impressive as your in-person one.

  7. nicklucido says:

    @Ben I absolutely agree. And it’s especially hard for students because employers might confuse fun with a bad image. I think @Shannon is right with you, too.

    @Evan I have to admit I googled that the other day! Thanks for the input.

    @Becky Absolutely. That’s right on the money. Good points.

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