Social Media is here to stay. I have written quite a lot about it lately and emphasized the importance of embracing it and not fearing it. There are, or at least there should be, some rules to social media. Some people use it correctly, and some sabotage their careers and ruin their images by using social media. You may be doing it consciously or subconsciously. Every time you blog, every time you tweet, every time you post a picture on Facebook, someone can see what you are doing.

If you use social media correctly, you can increase your visibility quickly. Think about it for a minute. If you were a sales person, you used to have to get in the car and drive or fly to the client to have a face- to- face meeting. Now, you can have a quick 30 minute Google Hangout and have had a productive meeting and you haven’t even left your house. People can learn about you and what you are doing without going to a business meeting and handing out business cards. You can connect to people on Linkedin and chose to have coffee with the ones that you need to talk with.

The way I see it, there are 5 rules you should abide by in social media.  They are simple and easy to remember.  I call them the 5 C’s of Social Media.

1.  You Must Have Commitment to Social Media

Using social media is a commitment. It is carving out time to blog. If you are going to write, make sure you have a schedule. Have a schedule where people will know that you will write on certain days. If you are going to tweet / use Facebook and you are busy, don’t get overwhelmed by responding all day. Set some time aside when you can do it. Understand though, don’t make it a once a week thing. It is a way of life now. It is how we talk to one another. If someone called you would you wait a week to call back? Probably not.

2.  Understand That Social Media is a Conversation

If you are on social media to just rant and not respond, then people will get sick of you FAST. Make relationships with individuals. If someone said “Hi” to you would you ignore it? No. You would at least acknowledge that they said something. If you are on Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Google and someone shares something, comment. It is a two-way conversation.

3.  Always be Courteous on Social Media

I am astounded by the complete jerks who respond on social media. If you don’t have something nice to say, just keep it to yourself. The problem with social media is that you aren’t physically looking at individuals and when you write. The fact is though, they listen. If you are rood and make comments that are impolite, then you are ruining your image. No one wants to surround themselves with people that bring them down.

4.  Be Courageous and Stand Up for What You Believe In 

If you are using social media, you have to put yourself out there. Some people may not agree with what you have to say, but the great thing about the world we live in is that we are all entitled to our opinions. You have to be courageous. If you are courteous and allow conversation, you may learn something that you didn’t know before. You have to be open minded and understand there will be some naysayers out there. Don’t let that discourage you. People will respect you more and you will become more recognizable in your industry.

5.  Have Confidence in What You Write

If you choose to use social media to enhance your brand, product, or just your online presence, make sure you are confident. State what you believe, but make sure you can back yourself up! Confidence is imperative as there are too many “experts” out there. Confident individuals always outshine others.

The next time you use social media, think about these things. Make sure you set aside time, you have two-way communication and you are polite. I sound like I am preaching the golden rule. I guess I am. Treat others as you want to be treated. The 21st century has a lot to offer. It isn’t bad, just different.