Social Media Etiquette

by | Apr 2, 2019

Social Media Etiquette

Apr 2, 2019 | twoviews

I read with dismay the tweet from Margaret Georgiadou who instigated the Revoke Article 50 online petition “Hi, I am the person responsible for the revoke article 50 petition…. last night I had three telephone death threats.  Who wants Brexit so much that they are prepared to kill for it?”

The level of abuse that some people stoop too is shocking, however, that’s another story entirely, for the purposes of this blog post I am going to deal with business social media.  I have had discussions with businesses who have been on the end of a barrage of abuse from customers, usually over something that initially the customer was absolutely entitled to complain about, but it got out of hand, spiralled out of control and it was like the customer was revelling in making the situation far more than it actually was.  Some people of course have far too much time on their hands, or think they are virtually anonymous because they are behind a screen.  There are differing schools of thought, delete the comments if you can, i.e. on Facebook for example, block the person from your page and hope they leave you alone.  However, you can’t do that across the board so how do you respond?

I am no expert, I hate the word guru and I’m definitely not someone who knows everything about everything, but here are my suggestions that may work for you should you be on the receiving end of something hateful, rude or inaccurate.

Do it right to start with

Turn off automation.  You know those annoying pop up messages that are a bright and jolly HELLO!  Years ago you could set Twitter to fire off an automatic DM to anyone that followed you.  Do you read any of them?  I don’t, and the same goes with automatic messages on Instagram and Facebook when you follow a page or an account.

It’s about quality engagement not quantity robotic messages.

This doesn’t apply to scheduling of posts on social media – that it is a time saving genius of a plan when mixed in with spur of the moment posting.

Keep an eye on everything

Nothing worse than someone asking you a question on your social media only for you to take days to respond.  No one should expect an immediate response at midnight, but the next morning it would be reasonable to have expected a reply.  If you need to investigate details more then say that, be human and imagine they are standing in front of you when you respond.  If you were asked a complicated question or needed to find out the finer details of something you’d say “I’ll get back to you”, you wouldn’t just walk off without a word.

Keep things up to date

I have said this time and time again I’m even boring myself.  If you are not using it, delete it.  There is nothing worse that trying to find a brand on Twitter only to see their last tweet was 3 years ago.  This goes with all social media, it shows that you are not engaged with your customers.  If you are not confident with social media get some training; we work with Catherine at who offers training in the North of Scotland.  Employ a company to work alongside you with your social media; we do this for several customers and there are many services out there that can help you. Just remember, it is your business and you will know the most about it so don’t leave all of your social media to an outside agency.

Respond no matter what

If someone leaves a comment on your Facebook page and it requires a response then respond.  If it doesn’t require a response then just like the comment, but whatever you do don’t just leave it.  The same rule should be applied across all of your social media.  If it is relevant that you should follow them back then do so.

If their comment is uncalled for, negative or nasty, then response reasonably stating the facts.  If they become an unreasonable aggressive contributor then block them, report them, and call them out on their behaviour.  Always take the moral high ground, never stoop to their level, if humour is appropriate then use it but don’t be rude.

I say all of this, but one of the pages on Facebook that I follow religiously, is a cafe and hotel in Ireland.  The manager who runs the social media has made a career out of being rude to his customers.  Some people love him, some absolutely hate him and he has caused great offence, however, his strategy has been brutal and has without question worked to market the business.  If you have the guts then go for it, but I don’t and will always see respectful discourse as the way forward in any given business situation.


I read an excerpt of an article published by the New York Times about Ricky Gervais and his thoughts about Twitter.  I think he sums it up perfectly when he says “Everything is exaggerated.  But everything’s also an illusion.  No one would talk to you in the street like they do on Twitter.  They’d never come up and say, ‘your articles stink’.  They’d never do that because they’re normal, but they’re not normal on Twitter because there’s no nuance, no irony, no conversation there.”

Keep it real and remember you are human not a robot