Watch your tone. As communications consultant Laura Mecoy points out, “Simple, old-fashioned words like ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ will help.” And Jonathan Poston of Yideo.com said, “Don’t assume everyone appreciates your special sense of humor. It’s one thing to be a certain way at family gatherings where there is sufficient context to decipher or ignore jokes, but jokes are often misread or misunderstood on social media.”
If you’re getting angry, take it offline. There’s nothing to be gained from airing out your grievances with anyone via Facebook. Not only will you not resolve your original conflict, you’ll be creating a new problem. Many people have their coworkers and professional associates on their friends list, Mecoy notes, and nobody appreciates having their dirty laundry aired in front of the boss.
Err on the side of privacy. Advice columnist April Masini told me, “While one family member is thrilled to have the family reunion photos posted all over the internet, others may feel that it creates problems for them—at work, with significant others, etc. So post your holiday celebrations, but consider the privacy of others, and consider a selfie instead of a group shot.”
The same mindset–protect other people’s privacy–applies to posting photos of other people without asking them. Masini suggests emailing or texting the photo to its subject and asking if it’s OK to post.
And finally: Do not announce someone else’s pregnancy, the birth of a baby, or the death of a loved one without getting permission first.
Finally, remember that social media is a mass medium. Jennifer Grygiel, who teaches social media at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, said, “You need to remember that most social media are a form of mass communication. And if you constantly communicate with family members using mass communication methods you are going to have issues.”
In other words, the best way to use Facebook? As a reminder of who you’d like to talk to one-on-one.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.