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Social Media

A Rant: Why I May Ignore Your Social Media Invitation

Note: This post originally published in 2012 was updated on June 21, 2018.

Social media etiquette – introductions are requested

How often have you invited someone to Link, Follow or Friend without reminding the person how you are connected? There are some “rules” for social media etiquette that somehow don’t cover this topic and some that do.

Social media etiquette makes the Web a nicer place

LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ and Twitter all have suggestion mechanisms to help you find and connect with those that may be your friends, former co-workers, colleagues, or even former sweethearts. In the drive to “get the numbers up” many people click, click, click to add new peeps.

Twitter and Google+ both allow you to follow or circle people without their permission. So, understanding new connections’ motivations is not as much of a concern as it is with Facebook and LinkedIn. With these two social media platforms, the emphasis is on a personal connection. I like what Cision’s Yvette Pistorio wrote in her blog post:

Introduce yourself. When you follow/friend/engage with people who may not know you, introduce yourself. It helps break the ice and open the door to conversation. Let them know who you are, what you do (if connecting for business) and how you came across them…it might just make a great impression. Be transparent about what you are connecting with them for.

Now I don’t want to sound like a curmudgeon, but if you want to be my Facebook Friend isn’t it just polite to introduce yourself? And if you want to be Linked, shouldn’t I know that you’re not a ball and chain?

Tell me who you are

I’m delighted to get to know new people, after all, I do brand myself “The Connection Maven,” but if I don’t know you, I don’t always understand your motivation.  Do you want to sell me something? Do you want to become a client or do you just want to ask me out for a cup of coffee? Or maybe you want to find a new job? I’m not a mind reader and so I have no idea why you may want to become connected. So, just tell me and we’re cool.

I’ll be your Friend. LinkedIn posse member and I’ll re-tweet your amazing tweets. Just give me some context for our pending friendship.

After we’re connected

And after we’re connected, please do not tag or mention me in every post.

Especially on LinkedIn. You know. You’ve seen them.

The posts where someone attends a meeting and then proceeds to humble brag about how awesome the event was, how much they learned, and mentions/tags 35 of their *friends* or connections in attendance, all in an attempt to increase engagement. If someone there said something cogent that you want to credit them with, for heaven’s sake, do mention and tag them. Give them all the credit they are due. But just piling on the mentions for the sake of ginning up some response to your post should be avoided at all costs. It feels and looks like begging. Events are all about face to face connections. Take selfies with the peeps you sat with and post away. Then you have a reason to mention them.

If it feels forced. If it feels like something you would not do in real life then stop. Don’t do it. Keep it real. Keep it human. Keep it sociable.

Thanks, and rant over.

Photo credit: flickr user Kate Ter Haar

2 thoughts on “A Rant: Why I May Ignore Your Social Media Invitation

  1. Just had a generational-based question… In a pre-internet life, we were able to say “Hello, my name is X….” by phone, mail, what have you. But with social media, our profiles already tell people who we are fractions of a second into an interaction. Is it considered awkward, egotistical or redundant mentioning your name a second time in the very beginning of your message?

    1. Lionel, always being focused on the other person is a great thing to do. Mentioning one’s name during an introduction is proper, but when speaking face to face, one may seem rather odd if one continues to refer to one’s self in the third person. In social media, conversations initiated can — depending on the social channel — be more direct. However, it still is appealing to focus on the other person rather than one’s self.

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