AKA: There's A Difference Between Posts And Messages
Best Practices (Part 6)
It's common sense, and common courtesy, to know that you wouldn't discuss an issue with a co-worker in front of your entire department at a company outing. You'd save that conversation for a time when you and your superior could have it in relative privacy, behind closed doors.
As a member of Powercore, a closed networking group like BNI, I've had it drilled into my head that good news is shared with the group, while bad or negative news or topics are discussed one on one. It's a sound policy, a very smart and savvy best practice.
Yet, I'm often shocked to see this common sense principal regularly violated on Facebook pages, in blog comments and in emails sent to the group.
An email message between two people is simply that, a message. But when you hit Reply All it becomes a post. You can state something bothersome, or of concern in a message. It's okay to tell Bob that you're concerned about his personal hygiene in a message. It's the epitome of rude, embarrassing and crass to post on that potentially embarrassing and hurtful topic.
This best practice must be taken one step further with social media. Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and Google+ all have means of private messaging. And the best practice would be to use those means to send messages that should, by all intents and purposes, be private.
We've become far too used to seeing social media used to post complaints. We all fall prey to this behavior from time to time. I had a gripe with Priceline.com and voiced it on Twitter. But, ONLY AFTER I had tried to get the issue resolved through private means, with a phone call and an email.
Asking questions on a Facebook wall or via a Twitter feed should follow the same protocols you'd follow in an office environment. Would you ask that specific question in front of the group? No? Then don't post it for all the world to see on a Facebook page or in a Google+ circle. Would you shout out potentially damaging information in front of every vendor at a trade show? No? Then don't post that same potentially damaging information in a Linkedin industry group.
Common sense and etiquette are best practices for a reason, both on and offline.