Modern Etiquette: Social Media Do’s & Don’ts

by Grace Bonney

Illustration by Anna Emilia

Good morning! It’s Friday, there’s a massive storm in the Northeast and love-themed posts are everywhere, so it seems like the perfect time for . . . an etiquette post? I know, this post is a bit outside all the Valentine themes we’ve been focusing on, but I’ve been working on this doozy of a post for weeks now, and I couldn’t wait to share it. Not only because it’s a topic that seems to be on everyone’s mind these days, but because the feedback I got from some of my favorite bloggers (who you’ll read more about below) was so fantastic. This week’s topic is social media etiquette, and boy did people have a lot to say.

I want to start by saying that this topic is the one that scared me the most. Social media etiquette is the most requested theme I’ve gotten so far but the one I wanted to discuss the least. Mainly because it’s such a new and rapidly expanding arena that I wasn’t sure I’d gotten a good enough grasp of the landscape to fully understand the ins and outs. But then I sat down and thought about the core issue here — how to talk to people in different social settings — and it hit me. This is no different than talking to people in different real-life situations. The same commonsense and polite behavior applies and, after conferring with several of the bloggers I respect and trust the most, I found that most people felt the same way. Navigating social media was just another chance to form bonds with people by being respectful, helpful, engaging and authentic. And like most other topics I’ll discuss here, I’ve already made so many of the big mistakes that I feel comfortable speaking from a place of what not to do, as well as talking about what might be better to try.

In addition to my thoughts on the topic, I’ll be sharing mini-interviews and feedback with Joy of Oh Joy!, Victoria of sfgirlbybay, Greg from Apartment Therapy, Lucy from The Design Files, Emily Henderson, Julie of Remodelista, Tina from Swiss Miss and Erin of Design for Mankind. This impromptu panel of bloggers was full of great ideas and helped me work toward my goal of representing a wider range of feedback. I hope my thoughts and all of theirs will be helpful in navigating the sometimes tricky waters of Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and everything else that’s popped up between the beginning and end of this post. xo, grace

*As always, please feel free to leave your ideas about the topic, your suggestions for best practices and any stories (good and bad) about your experiences with this topic. This column is all about discussing ideas and understanding different people’s perspectives, so I’d love to hear from all of you.

The full post (all 7,000 words and 8 blogger interviews) continues after the jump!

Social Media Etiquette

Part of me thinks this post has the potential to be totally obsolete in less than a year. And then another part of me thinks the thoughts below are timeless. With the way the internet and social media change so quickly, it’s hard to know just how conversation will work online in the coming years. But one thing remains the same: People like to be treated with respect, care and thoughtfulness online. So today’s main goal will be about finding ways to do that through social media.

I. Basic Do’s and Don’ts: 11 Things to Remember Across All Social Media Platforms

  • Comments follow you. Much like comments on a website, comments, responses, likes, dislikes, rants, pictures and hashtags are, for better or worse, forever. Because social media feels like a place where people can just be themselves and say things off the cuff, people often say things they wouldn’t typically say in public. But unless all your accounts are private, what you’re saying is most definitely in public. Deleting tweets and updates doesn’t always solve the problem. When in doubt, if you don’t want something coming back to you, don’t say it online. (Prefacing something with “No offense, but . . .” or “Don’t get mad, but I HAVE to say this . . .” doesn’t absolve anyone of anything.) Cursing as well as spelling, grammatical and factual accuracy fall into this category, too.
  • Pay attention to the purpose. By this I mean, is your or someone else’s handle related to their personal name or their business? It makes a difference. If you find your favorite internet personality has a private personal Twitter feed and a public business feed, which is the right one to contact about work? Yep, the last one. More often than not, people think it’s effective to contact anyone anywhere they can find them. But people name and identify sources of contact for specific reasons. So rather than pitching endlessly at your favorite TV star’s personal account, try using their “contact me” page on the business site instead. Bottom line? Don’t bombard someone with pitches on social media outlets unless that’s their only form of contact (and even then, contact 1–2 times and wait for them to respond). Most people have websites with submission or contact forms. Use those rather than constant tweets and updates.
  • Beware the overshare. Nothing seems to freak out online readers (and people in general) more than a picture/comment/post that crosses the line you’ve established with your audience. If you’re someone who typically talks about design and suddenly you’re updating with details about your frequent trips to an adult bookstore (yes, I actually saw this happen), people might be a little surprised or uncomfortable. Does that mean there’s something wrong with your life choices? No. Does it mean you might need a separate personal account for things discussed outside the realm of your business? Yep.
  • Not everything is personal. I have friends who seem to live and die by Facebook. If someone doesn’t friend them, they think there’s secretly a huge war brewing between them and this now former friend. But sometimes it’s not about you, Facebook or any perceived slight. Sometimes someone missed your request or just isn’t signing on as much. Either way, if you truly feel you’ve been slighted by someone you know well in real life, send them an actual email to ask. If they’re a real friend, they’ll explain, and hopefully a needless Facebook war can be avoided. *Facebook specific: If you’re sending someone a friend request without any note attached and you don’t really know them, you may not get a response. When in doubt, explain who you are and whom you have in common, etc.
  • Beware the overshare, Part 2. I have often been an (albeit unintended) offender of this rule. Whether you’re tweeting, updating or pinning things, most people don’t want to be flooded by updates from someone. Especially if that upload rate differs from your typical post rate. I made this mistake when I finally got into Pinterest (I stupidly didn’t realize uploading a million old things at night would flood everyone’s feeds. Sorry guys, I learned and stopped.), and it tends to be one of the most common reasons (outside of political commentary) that inspires an angry “UNFOLLOW!” comment. So, if you plan on tweeting 40 times a day, let people know. Clearly people can always unfollow you on various accounts, but it’s always polite to give people a heads up that says, “Today I’ll be updating more than normal because of (XYZ).”
  • Consider the tone. Humble-bragging, outright bragging, constant complaining and endless rhetorical questions never go over well with readers. If you find your tone slipping into these territories, it may be time to consider whether this is the right outlet for you. If Twitter has become your only place to vent, people may start to associate you and your business with that tone of voice. When it doubt, try to represent an accurate and realistic range of tones. No one expects you to be happy all the time, but no one wants you to be fake either. Keep it real and try to keep it balanced if you can. Also consider that people can’t always tell your tone online. If you’re being sarcastic and people can’t tell, it might be time to be more direct.
  • Skip the call-outs. Let’s be honest. As fun as it can be to discover internet gossip (I’m pretty sure there are enough sites devoted to that), it’s more fun to avoid the hurt feelings, damaged reputation and upset readers that come with calling people out, vaguely or directly. Sometimes it can’t be avoided (I’ve seen some legitimate copying issues addressed successfully on social media platforms after a lack of email response), but most of the time, calling someone out just makes you seem like a jerk. Just skip it. Talk to that person privately or just let it go. Readers really don’t want to hear most people’s dirty laundry.
  • Think before tagging. Most people want to put their best foot forward online. That foot rarely includes eyes rolled back in their head or shots of their jeans slipping too low. If you’ve got a shot of someone you want to upload, and you’re not trying to embarrass them, reach out to see if they mind you tagging them. Most people appreciate the chance to avoid having their reputation damaged or looking foolish. It should also be noted that personal photos (partying/drinking, vacation in a bikini) are probably best left out of business-related feeds.
  • Ignoring trumps engaging (most of the time). I’ve got nine years of experience dealing with people being mean online. No matter what you write about (people, furniture, kids, pets), someone out there will hate you for it. And those people seem to love attacking on social media outlets the most. It’s easy to trip and fall into a Twitter war or a Facebook comment battle, but when in doubt, let it go. Unless someone’s causing real damage to your reputation, stay out of it or respond with a simple factual response.
  • Act the way you’d want to be treated. If you care about people crediting you, credit other people. If you care about being polite and responding to people on Twitter, respond politely to them. If you want to have people leave insightful comments (and not just promotions) on Facebook, do the same for them. You get the point — be the example you’d like others to follow. If you put positive, responsible energy out on all of your accounts, you’re more likely to get it back.
  • Don’t demand reciprocation. As much as I’d like some of my favorite people (please, Robyn?) to follow me online, I can’t demand that it happen. Constant plugs for follows, likes, friending, etc. can feel calculated and anything by genuine online. Bottom line? Follow, friend, like or pin something because you really want to, not because you expect something in return.


II. Twitter

Twitter is my first social media love. I fought joining it for a solid year, and when I finally did, I found a new home online. I felt more relaxed, more off the cuff and just more ME. I was able to talk about things outside of design (as long as it wasn’t controversial), and I got to meet new people I wouldn’t normally meet. Of all the social media outlets, this is the one I feel the most well versed in. While most of the main ideas apply across all the outlets listed below, I wanted to share a few Twitter-specific thoughts.

  • Twitter seems to be the main battle ground for online fights. Trolls, weird impostor accounts and Debbie Downers abound here. I’ve made the mistake of engaging in arguments and staying quiet when I shouldn’t have. Overall, I learned it’s best to stick to the facts. If someone’s responding with an opinion that you don’t like, just ignore it. If they do nothing but respond with opinions you don’t like, you can choose to unfollow them or block them. Some people are endlessly offended by blocking, but I think it’s the simplest tool you have to end an ugly situation without making it uglier (i.e., yelling at each other online).
  • SPOILERS: Just don’t do it. Wait a day or two and then preface your updates. As much as I hate that people spend time on a site dedicated to live updating on the night of something that’s happening live and get mad about those live updates, it’s usually not worth the fight. If you’re going to live-tweet the Oscars or a show finale, give people a heads up so they can unfollow you for the day/night/week. That said, if you’re not watching the election and want to be surprised in the morning, don’t hang out on Twitter that night.


III. Facebook

Facebook has grown on me over the past year. For years I struggled with it, not wanting to be redundant about what I post on both Twitter and Facebook. For me, Facebook is primarily about sharing images and connecting with people in a way that’s less about short witty sentences and more about stories, ideas and deeper thought. I’ve chosen to keep a personal private account (though it wasn’t always personal and private, so I’ve got some FB contacts that don’t know me in “real life”), and I’m so glad I have that outlet to be a bit less guarded with updates, etc. Facebook’s privacy settings can be helpful in that regard, so it’s a great outlet to help you manage those updates if you want a place to think a little bit less about being “on brand” all the time.

My main note here is about friends/friend invites. I think it’s important to respect people’s privacy, and if they want to keep an account private for a reason, respect that. I’ve sent friend requests to more casual online acquaintances and have been met with rejections that fully explained the reason. I really appreciate and respect that sort of exchange, and I think most people do. If you want someone to “friend” you but don’t take the time to explain who you are or why they should friend you back, don’t be surprised if that request isn’t granted. The “rejection” isn’t always about you; it’s often about that person just wanting a space to be themselves without needing to maintain the boundaries expected by a work situation.

IV. Pinterest

Ooh, boy. I’ve been pretty vocal about my issues with Pinterest. But after years of being a stick in the mud about it, I decided it was better to engage on terms I felt comfortable with than to ignore it all together. (Though I still lament that it doesn’t feel as “social” as I’d like it to be.) I’ve tried to do that by only uploading images I have the rights to or know are ok to use/promote (i.e., retail images sent by artists and their PR companies). I try to credit photographers and stylists as often as I can and hope that this general sentiment spreads across the site.

  • Pin what you have permission to pin. I know this is probably archaic and old-school of me, but I genuinely hope people respect photographers, stylists and content creators and can credit them as often as possible. I’ve seen good people miss chances at work because someone could find the source of an image or its creator. So when it doubt, making an effort to credit the artist is awesome.
  • Don’t do what I did and upload too much on one day. I learned my lesson. Space out your pins and don’t flood people’s feeds. Although, admittedly, I follow some people whose taste is so exquisite that I’d happily read their feed-floods all day. Especially the cat-related ones.


V. Instagram

I am a late-to-the-party convert to Instagram. I’m not suffering under any delusions that all the fancy filters make me a good photographer (because they don’t), but I love that they can make everyday shots feel a little special. For me, this all-image-all-the-time platform is a natural extension of blogging without losing the unique vision of the person behind it. I like that it gives me a way to see more of someone’s real life and day, beyond blog posts. Here are the things I’ve learned so far:

  • People seem to like people’s feeds to be an extension of what they already do/are associated with online (this post definitely has a common theme). So if you’re a design blogger, people tend to prefer patterns, art and cool houses to be mixed in with, say, every 10 cat photos you post.
  • People have started using Instagram to tag people in unexpected places. Much like the tagging note above, give people a heads up if you’re live-Instagraming someone and they don’t know.


We’ve reached the end of my overall thoughts on social media. If I had to sum up my point of view in one sentence it would be: Treat others the way you want to be treated and don’t attack people with pitches. Feeds are meant to be balanced, so try to offer people a little bit of the good with the bad (if you feel the need to share negative things on a regular basis) and a little bit of the personal with the work. It helps people get a well-rounded picture of you and the important projects in your life.

I was curious to hear what others had to say, so now I’m thrilled to share feedback from some of my favorite talented (and seasoned) bloggers. Thanks so much to all of them for sharing their thoughts and time with us here! (Please note: I’ve edited some of the responses below for length.)

* * *

1. What are your biggest social media pet peeves on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/Pinterest?

Joy Deangdeelert Cho of Oh Joy!: This is going to sound totally naive, but probably negative comments and negativity in general. It takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there and share parts of your life or your inspirations, so when people are rude or unkind, it makes it a less fun thing to do.

Gregory Han, Tech Editor at Apartment Therapy: Hashtag-itis: a condition afflicting a segment of Twitter or Instagram users, manifesting in a chronic tendency to tag a dictionary’s worth of subjects when a sentence would have sufficed. Hashtags should be used thoughtfully and sparingly; otherwise, they’re the Twitter/Instagram equivalent of wearing a “LOOK AT ME, LOOK AT ME!” t-shirt. Also, I’m sure this has happened to everyone at least once: you share a link on Facebook, then a moment later you see a friend who read/commented your link repost it without sharing via your original post, sans hat tip. The finder’s fee is a small but polite one: credit your source!

Emily Henderson: My pet peeves are mainly by major companies whose PR teams all of a sudden discovered social media and they are doing it all wrong by doing it in such a corporate way. Most bloggers kinda get it, but when big, old companies join, they only tweet out their sales and “Check out our gorgeous throw” instead of trying to tweet something compelling, like “How much do you want to be snuggling under this with Ryan Gosling?” That tweet I would click on. I always think that if I had a ton of money and was a big company, I would hire comedians to write the tweets/posts. Those are the ones that are retweeted the most, clicked on the most and that make the companies look WAYYY cooler than they probably are. Same with Pinterest. Hey big companies: Don’t label your own product “beautifully designed wrought iron table and for more table ideas click on www.i’magenericwebsite.com.” I don’t want to re-pin that without editing the copy, and often I just don’t want to have to edit the copy, I just want to hit “repin.” Lastly, as a stylist/designer, I get bummed that my work is floating around so uncredited. Often the magazine/blog or the photographer is credited, but when you work soooo hard on a project, it’s such a bummer to see it credited to someone else. It’s nobody’s fault; people just forget who did it, and after a few pins it’s a rabbit hole of non-crediting.

Victoria from sfgirlbybay: Each social network has its own petty annoyances. I’m not a huge fan of Facebook in general because I find it so invasive, and I hate how they’re always changing their privacy features — it’s hard to keep up. I dislike being tagged on Facebook with someone’s promotional image or having someone post something on my wall they want to promote. I suppose I would say that on Twitter, I really dislike it when someone never, ever tweets their personal stories, and it’s simply a constant stream of self-promotion. That gets old fast. I also really dislike a stream of complaints. I have my own silly complaints about life, and I am trying really hard not to air them on Twitter. It’s boring. I don’t care for sponsored tweets much either with a ton of hashtags. On Pinterest, my biggest pet peeve is not correctly crediting an image. I think on the web that’s pretty easy to do from time to time, but I think it’s irresponsible to always pin from unknown sources like Tumblr or ffffound. I also really, really hate the snarky, negative criticism on pins. If you don’t like something, ignore it. Or unfollow that board/person.

Lucy from The Design Files: Our biggest pet peeve on social media would be unwarranted negativity! Your nana was right when she said, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all!” These outlets are so great at fostering and encouraging a positive online community, but unfortunately they’re unmoderated, and people don’t always have nice things to say. It’s a real shame when people get nasty.

Julie from Remodelista: Long public discussion threads that should really be private conversations (DMs). Excessive snark. When an individual or a website “clogs the feed” and overwhelms their audience with too many posts, too many pins, too many tweets.

Erin from Design for Mankind: I don’t have a ton of pet peeves related to social media, because I try not to take these sorts of platforms too seriously. I think when we place too many rules on certain online outlets, it’s a sure sign that we might be placing too much value on them as a collective society. I do, however, have little tolerance for bullying on these platforms. There’s no place for mindless name-calling or finger-pointing anywhere online (or offline, for that matter), especially on such viral avenues. I’ve unfollowed/unfriended many users for sending out intentional and continuous negativity into the world, but again, that’s a personal preference of mine and is an immediate reflection of my life offline, as well.

Tina Roth Eisenberg of Swiss Miss: Overhashtagging drives me completely crazy.

2. What are your top 3 tips for being a considerate social media user?

Joy: Be positive. Be polite. Be inspiring.

Lucy: (1) Share, share, share! You can’t expect to gain from the online community if you are not contributing to it. (2) Credit work that is not your own. (3) Be kind, always!

Gregory: Ask and never assume. 99% of the time that I’ve asked permission to share content from its original owner/creator, the answer is usually a resounding “yes” . . . they usually end up thanking me for showing interest, [creating] the opportunity for better and original content beyond what they might have already shared. When you enjoy a great meal at a restaurant, do you credit the waiter/waitress for the fine cooking? No . . . you compliment the chef! So goes it for online content. Make the effort to credit the originating source and not just the person who hat-tipped you to a site or images, especially true in this era of Pinterest and Tumblr where images are shared without a thought. Don’t flood the stream. I’ve had to stop following certain Twitter accounts after multiple incidents where they’d post 5–10 tweets in a row, blanketing my feed. This doesn’t endear anyone to read your updates.

Tina: Contribute to the conversation. Don’t hate on people. Keep it upbeat.

Julie: Be kind (if you wouldn’t say something in person, don’t say it on social media). Don’t spam in an effort to get noticed or to drive traffic to your own site (or Twitter feed or whatever). On Pinterest, don’t issue random Pinterest Board Guest Pinner invitations (we sometimes get invitations to contribute to bikini boards, for instance!). Be yourself; don’t invent a “persona” to get attention.

Emily: It’s so tricky. I can tell you what I appreciate: when I feature someone and tag them in a post, that they not only favorite it, but retweet it to their followers. If someone goes out of their way to credit you and blog about you, then the least you can do is tweet it out to your followers. I hereby apologize for all the times that I haven’t done that, and I now promise to do that because I appreciate it so much. In general, I’d say be generous with your tweets — if you see a lot of effort in a blogger creating original content, TWEET IT OUT.

Erin: (1) Consider the recipient. Social media platforms are all too often focused on the sender of the message, rather than the receiver. I think that’s partially why so many “etiquette guidelines” are being broken. If we take a moment to consider the reactions of others and how our messages might be interpreted, each platform will likely become more enjoyable for all. (2) Consider the medium. Indeed, the Internet never forgets. It’s so easy to feel as if we’re adding thoughts to a fleeting conversation, but it’s important to remember that nothing online is temporary. I have a personal rule for this: Never write what I wouldn’t share with my grandmother. (Luckily, I share a lot with my grandmother!) (3) Consider the message. Social media platforms are noisy. I think it’s considerate to, at times, pause and think before you add your take. By self-editing our messages to be (a) relevant, (b) positive or (c) necessary, we’d likely trim a lot of the fat. (Edit: That’s not to say that I don’t love a good cat photo any day of the week. Cat photos are very, very necessary.)

Victoria: I think it’s important to not just use social media strictly for promotion. It’s much more fun and engaging to let your followers know the real you and to see your personality through your tweets and posts. I think there’s some rule of thumb someone made up about two-thirds you, one-third promotion. Also, I don’t retweet or repost links to my blog posts over and over. I usually do two tweets maximum for a post (once in the morning, once in the evening). And on Facebook, I only post it once. Give proper credit to your sources and add links to your tweets and posts. Try not to have a running chat with friends if possible. I know I’ve been guilty of this on occasion, and I’m making a conscious effort not to do it. It’s a drag for your followers to see a back and forth chat between one or more tweeters go on forever in their Twitter stream, and I think it makes people feel excluded.

3. Are there appropriate ways for people/businesses to contact you through social media? If so, what do you prefer?

Joy: I prefer emails for business-related contacts. Since those messages require a longer response than what can fit on a tweet, I’d prefer to have that dialog over email.

Greg: I’m always happy to hear from readers, PR or followers via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest. I think my only requirement is to respect my time and not to overdo it . . . I’ve had some PR contacts (very few) be over-aggressive about pushing their interests.

Emily: I like a DM-ing through Twitter or Facebook. But any way you want to contact me, you can. I try to respond to most emails that are a question.

Victoria: I prefer to be emailed via my blog if possible. But I think a quick tweet asking me to take a look at something is fine. I’d rather businesses didn’t post on my Facebook page, though.

Tina: I enjoy it when people point me to products/sites on Twitter. I do not, however, like it when companies pitch me stuff through this platform. That’s what email is for. The other day a big reputable firm asked me to follow them on Twitter so they could DM me. I did, and then they just simply asked me if I used their service. That was completely lame.

Lucy: I am always happy for TDF readers to contact me through social media, but if a business or creative would like to send a pitch, we prefer that they email us. With such a small team of just two people here at TDF, we find it is easy to assess all submissions in the one place, with images attached!

Erin: Absolutely! I’m pretty open to any communication in any way, but I think the easiest way is to send a brief tweet (or DM, if the message is personal). It’s an amazing way to connect quickly on a basic level, and I reserve email for more in-depth questions or conversations. I’ve heard of so many people ditching their inbox entirely in lieu of Twitter, and although I wouldn’t go that far, it is amazing to see how beneficial Twitter has become in terms of touch-and-go messaging.

Julie: We always respond best to solicitations that come through social media when the sender (or vendor) is gracious and knows Remodelista well and believes their product/idea is a good fit for our site. When you can tell that the person getting in touch is unfamiliar with the site and is sending multiple solicitations, it’s off-putting.

4. Did you make any rookie mistakes on social media outlets that you learned from?

Joy: Yes! Posting too much and too often especially on things that show up as feeds. It’s good to spread out tweets and Instagrams so that you don’t bombard people with 20 in a row. Then, they can appreciate the single message or image without being overwhelmed by too many at one time.

Tina: I tend to use caution when using DMs, as I have had a few tweets go out that were not meant for public consumption. I have learned to realize that Twitter is quite the perfect tool to be misunderstood. I try to be as clear as I can be when writing something somewhat critical. Also, never question Americans’ love for sandwiches. Never!

Gregory: Assuming others know your intentions and assume the best of you. Engaging one-on-one with readers and followers is great, if not required. But knowing when to walk away from interactions is just as important. Not everyone wants to be your friend online, and there’s always a troll under the proverbial bridge waiting. Early on, I treated my professional social media channels like my personal one, hoping I could be on positive terms with everyone. Unfortunately, the reality is that good intentions aren’t always enough, so knowing when to fold the cards and play a new hand is important with engagement. Also, when I first began, I remember duplicating content too often. This annoyed friends who followed by both the Apartment Therapy account and my personal “typefiend” one. I was a dupe dope. A recent mistake I made: forgetting I had temporarily connected my Instagram updates to the Apartment Therapy Tech Twitter feed for CES coverage. I’m sure there was a bit of head scratching amongst AT Tech followers seeing updates about photos of tasty meals and cute cat antics via Instagram.

Emily: Nope. I’m perfect. Except opposite. I had someone who worked for me who had me signed up with a sponsored tweet program that I didn’t know about, and all of a sudden I was tweeting out about Jimmy Dean Sausage and how I lost 5 pounds in one day eating some stupid berry. While I do love sausages and I wish I could lose 5 pounds in one day, these were clearly sponsored and TERRIBLE, and I thought I was being hacked. Meanwhile, followers were pissed. So no matter what, don’t sign up for those programs. Sponsored tweets can be fine if they are for a brand/product/company you use and like, if they pay well enough and, most importantly, if you can write them in your own voice, but unless its those three things, stay away from them. Also I didn’t and still don’t have my Twitter username “em_henderson” and my Instagram username “emhenderson” the same, and that was a MASSIVE mistake. There isn’t anything I can do about it now, and as my friend Bri told me, it’s social media suicide, but that was a TERRIBLE mistake that I wish I could undo.

Julie: When we first created a Remodelista Facebook page, we used Networked Blogs to auto-generate posts (synched to our site). Disaster! People don’t like automated content. Since then, we’ve gone down to a single post a day on Facebook, and we also post original content and newsy items, which seem to resonate more with the Facebook crowd.

Erin: Oh my gosh, so many! I think that’s the nature of these outlets — we’re all learning as we go. I’ve made a ton of what I’d consider to be social media mistakes in the past: pinned affiliate links, misplaced image credits, set up automatic tweets — the list goes on. I’ve learned a lot since then, but I think the main realization for me has been that social media is just social media: You post what you’re comfortable with and try to hold yourself to your own standard of accountability. We can’t really expect everyone to interact at our comfort levels all of the time, so it’s important to extend a bit of grace to our fellow users. That’s what makes it a community, yes?

Victoria: Yes, and I probably still do from time to time. I didn’t know, for instance, that if you tweet back to someone you follow and you want other followers to be able to read it too, you have to include characters in front of their Twitter handle (e.g., “hey @designsponge did you see this . . .”). I also have been known to tweet personal complaints (see above), and I’m trying not to bore people with those. No one cares that I ran out of mayonnaise. I think whining in general is a bad idea, and I’ve been guilty of it. I’ve also tweeted personal political references, and sometimes I’m not sure that’s a good idea. But on the other hand, for instance, this last presidential election was important to me, so I felt like I’d like to share my views. If I could encourage someone opposed to my point [of view] to consider it another way, then I consider that a plus. I’ve certainly lost some followers doing this. But I’ve gained a few, too.

Lucy: Once we ran a Twitter giveaway where everyone had to tag “@thedesignfiles” at the opening of a tweet to enter. We later realised if you @ tag someone at a beginning of a tweet, only those who follow the tagged user can see the tweet, meaning we missed out on an opportunity to gain new followers who might like what TDF has to offer! Uh oh. Luckily we quickly realised and were able to fix our mistake.

5. Do you use the main social media outlets for different purposes, or do you like to use the same content for all of them?

Joy: I definitely use them for different purposes. And to be honest, I don’t use them all equally, as there are so many, and it’s tough to spend a lot of time on all of them. For me, I spend the most energy on two (outside of my blog) — Twitter and Pinterest — simply because I enjoy them the most, and they work best with the way I work or think. Pinterest has become my go-to for saving inspiration and ideas, and Twitter is just a fun way to quickly communicate with others.

Gregory: I’ve mostly divided social media into professional and personal accounts (except for Instagram). So what I post on Apartment Therapy’s Twitter feed is only occasionally the same as what I post on my personal account. Facebook and Instagram are more closely tied to my personal life, used for engaging with friends I know, while Pinterest is the least tied to active social engagement since comments are rare and the sharing aspect is less immediately satisfying than the other three.

Emily: I use Pinterest for work, fun and to get readers to the blog. I have simple boards for “rugs” and “sofas,” which make it so easy for client work. Instagram is purely fun — sometimes I Instagram what I’m featuring on the blog, but not too often. Mostly it’s just what I’m around and want to share. Facebook is for real active engagement with followers where I ask questions and post contests/giveaways, and Twitter is for broader fast engagement and talking about pop culture. Actually, Twitter is how I engage with other bloggers more than anything else. Ultimately my daily goal is to have my social media posts be so compelling that people are curious enough to actually click on them and read the post, not just read the tweet or the Facebook post about the blog post. Instead of writing, “Check out this living room I designed,” I write, “Check out this living room I designed inspired by Chuck Bass’s bachelor pad, pre-marriage to Blaire, of course. Do you think he’d approve? #gossipgirl.”

Victoria: I use Twitter to post “teaser” tweets to read my blog posts, and I also really use it to stay connected with friends and to find inspiration. I follow people who I think share interesting links more often than not, and I love Twitter for that. I use Facebook primarily to link to my blog posts, including an image from the post. I don’t normally share many personal posts on Facebook. Like I said, I can find it to be a bit invasive. Old boyfriends hunt you down! :) I use Pinterest a few ways: I link an image from each of my posts; I pin images that inspire me and that I think will inspire others, whether it be decor or art or a DIY idea. I also use the private boards to save images I’d like to blog about down the road and kind of want to keep to myself while the idea for the post brews. I also use Pinterest to share boards with others I’m collaborating with — like a decorating project or, for example, Rena and I used a pinboard to share ideas for how Makeshift Society should look. It’s a great tool for that. I use Instagram mostly just for fun. Sometimes I will share an image for the blog but not that often. Sometimes I create posts from my favorite Instagrams, though. Either mine or a collected theme from others (always crediting back to their original link).

Lucy: We use them for different purposes. We love Facebook’s new timeline, as it is visually rich and allows us to share our beautiful imagery with our readers like it’s a mini TDF notice board. On Pinterest, we also share our own images but are seriously addicted to repining the magical images others have created! Twitter is more conversational and allows for more spontaneous interaction with our readers. And don’t even get us started on Instagram — we are obsessed! We think it’s more laid back and a great way to give our readers a behind-the-scenes look at TDF.

Julie: Since we are a small team with different affinities for the four top social media outlets, we take the divide-and-conquer approach. For instance, I am a compulsive user of Pinterest (I even have a Cats board). Our San Francisco editor, Sarah Lonsdale, likes Instagram. Our London editor, Christine Hanway, has a knack for Twitter. And our SF-based associate editor, Alexa Hotz, was an early adopter of Pinterest. And Stacey Lindsay manages our Facebook presence. We live in fear that another social medium will arise!

Erin: The social media outlets I use actually have very different purposes. I find that I use Twitter a lot to connect with readers who prefer to engage in a conversation on that platform rather than in a blog’s comment section. I use Pinterest strictly for cataloging visual inspiration and “someday” ideas, and Instagram is a just-for-fun place where I often share personal snippets of my day and my family. I recently deleted my personal Facebook page (best decision ever!) because I never really loved that outlet, but I do keep business pages for both DesignForMankind.com and DesignForMiniKind.com as a way to share additional content that I might not post on the blogs themselves.

Tina: Yeah, there’s definitely different purposes for some of them. Also, I enjoy it when I follow someone on all of them to see content that is platform specific.

Suggested For You


  • An epic list and a very interesting read. Social media really has made some people forget themselves, much like mobile phones in public. I suppose the net offers more anonymity more than anything, so you get deindividuation, which is where people become quite nasty because of this secrecy! But it sure does follow you around what you write. Like this; I’ve still not watched The Godfather! Shocking, I know.

  • Thanks for delving into this subject so thouroughly. I am a late adopter of most social media outlets and am always grateful to read up on how to “properly” use them. I do worry about doing something dumb (unknowingly) on social media, but hope that everyone will give me grace as I’m learning.

  • This is such a thoughtful, comprehensive post. I think I may have been guilty of some of these dont’s in the past – oops! I’ll definitely be giving my late night pin-a-thons a second thought.

  • Great post, especially for social media newbies. I have a lot of friends who don’t understand the point/value of the different sites, and this provides a lot of insight and opinions that can help folks decided which ones are right for them.

    I sometimes wish Pinterest was more social, but because it’s focus is so much on the visual, drive-by repins, and self-curation, there is this tendency to make it all about ourselves rather than look at and reach out to who’s repinning our stuff and who are we constantly repinning. Then again, maybe Pinterest is supposed to be “just for us”, you know, like cozying up by yourself on the couch with a stack of magazines on a lazy Sunday.

    Thanks again for this post- will definitely be sharing on my personal Facebook page, as well as my biz page! ;)

  • Thank you for this thorough article. It helps me to know/or to be mindful of online etiquette, especially if you have a blog. I think it’s easy to vent or brag. Balance is key.

  • Thank you so much for this! So eye opening! I can;t tell you how refreshing it is to here other people talk about the pros and cons of social media and what they have learned. Design Sponge nails it again :)

  • Thank you so much for this wonderful post!

    I especially loved this part: “People have started using Instagram to tag people in unexpected places. Much like the tagging note above, give people a heads up if you’re live-Instagraming someone and they don’t know.”

  • I love one of the first rules that you mentioned Grace: ‘skip the callouts’. I’ve ended up un-following professionals that I admire because of constant callouts on their parts to companies that sent too many newsletters, or redesigned their site in a way they didn’t like, etc. It’s always seemed like bullying to me covered in the guise of ‘helpful criticism’. I agree that a callout can be useful in the case of someone stealing a design, but for little things that you don’t like about a company, a personal email suggestion is best!

    • Nicole

      Agreed. There are so many sites dedicated to JUST calling people out for the sake of “making them better” and I just don’t agree that random criticism and attacks are the most effective way to bring change. I think if you’ve gone through all the appropriate channels to register a complaint, etc, then maybe online is your only option. Obviously people are free to say and complain however they please online, but I think it’s definitely more helpful and constructive to the online community as a whole for people to handle major gripes privately first.


  • I disagree with you on Pinterest. I use the tool for my own purpose. I am not necessarily pinning things to share with others, but as a reminder for myself, more as a visual bookmark. If other people like my pins, that is ok with me, but I don’t think I need to have permission to pin every photo. The tool itself references the photo via a link.

    Now, if someone is downloading a bunch of other people’s photos and pinning them as their own material I do think that is wrong. I respect the need to attribute sources. I just think that my purpose of pinning items in Pinterest is not as a showcase of my own material, rather an idea generator/rememberator. :)

    • Beth

      If you read Pinterest terms of agreement, you’ll see that you’re giving them copyright for any image you upload. If you upload an image that doesn’t belong to you, the owner can sue or (at the least) demand you remove the image. Links and crediting are not the same as having legal permission to hand over someone’s copyright. That said, people seem to be ignoring that rule left and right under the same assumption or overall feeling that crediting = permission. I just want everyone to know that legally, they should know that isn’t the same thing. I have heard of these things starting to happen, so I just want everyone to be safe.


  • SF Bay Girl, you touched on something that’s been weighing on me since I started blogging and joined the brave new world of twitter. I’ve discovered that some readers use twitter to casually follow blogs, rather than signing up for a aggregation service like Google Reader or BlogLovin. In response, I’ve tried to remember to tweet out my daily posts with a little “teaser” (just like you do!) It’s also a great way to tag people or products featured in the post.

    But here’s my concern– is tweeting exclusively about new posts on my blog self-promotion? Sometimes it feels like it is…but I’m also not the type of person to tweet about what I’m wearing (guaranteed to be unimpressive) or what I’m eating (maybe slightly more interesting to some, not all.) Should I make a concerted effort to intersperse more personal tid-bits with my blog teasers? I don’t want my feed to be self-promotional, but I also don’t want to risk authenticity by tweeting about my life just to add variety. Help! This is such a minefield. Thank you D*S for providing some guidance!

    • hi alex!

      victoria has great thoughts on this topic (and i’m sure will have more)- but i just wanted to throw in my two cents. i wrote about the “rule of thirds” a while back (http://www.designsponge.com/2010/08/biz-ladies-promoting-your-business-tastefully-online.html) and firmly stand by it. i think 1/3 teaser tweets, 1/3 personal and 1/3 resource sharing (outside of your site) keeps a balanced feed and people won’t mind those promo tweets if they’re peppered in with non-promo ;) i think you can def. find a way to update personal things without doing it just for the sake of doing it. maybe you can talk about patterns or things you see that are beautiful on the way to work, etc.


  • Thanks, Grace! Great idea– I will definitely start to incorporate daily inspiration spotting in my twitter feed.

  • Thank you so much for posting this! It was very insightful and so informative. It’s always good to be reminded of these simple rules. The last thing I would want to do is seem offensive or annoying. Glad you mentioned flooding the Pinterest feed – I’ve been guilty of that one! ;) oops. Retweeting this post now!

  • As someone who’s in the beginning stage of setting up my own business, this is incredibly valuable information. Although I jumped the Facebook boat months ago, I have Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram accounts and both my personal name and company name are shown on all. In addition, I’ll be rolling out my blog in a couple of weeks and this will serve as a very handy map of all of those online landmines. ;) Thanks!

  • Grace,
    Thanks for taking the time to create such a useful guide for social media etiquette. I’ve had my blog for about a year and a half. I cringe when I recall some of the faux-pas that I made in the beginning. While they weren’t terrible, I was petrified that I would forever be labeled a spammer. Thankfully, I think I avoided that fate, but I’m sure that I am not immune to future faux-pas (we learn from our mistakes, right?)

    If I may, I’d like to share a pet peeve or two.
    -Bloggers who perpetually post the first comment on another Blogger’s new post in an attempt to gain the most attention. And often, the comment contains no useful information and is followed by a blog link.
    -A Blogger publishes a new post about a new and unique topic. Then another blogger posts a comment that simply reads – “I wrote about this just last week (insert link).”

  • Great piece! As a blogger/author I use all the social media platforms (or at least most) and I think you all make some excellent points. I hate blog trolls, love blog comments and I try to give more than I take in the social media realm. I keep my FB friends close and a small group, keep posts to the mostly personal but light. Nothing too scary or deep. Definitely nothing I wouldn’t want to be shared. Recently had to set my privacy settings to prevent people from tagging me on FB. Will share this post with my LA Mom Blogger group!

  • Love this article! One thing I would add is never post pictures of other people’s children without their permission. As a mom of two little ones, this happens more than I ever imagined it would.

  • Wow! This is really great information! But I am left wondering…if we shouldn’t use tags on IG, how can we get “found?” I have a small but growing band of followers who probably landed on my IG page through one of my art-related tags. I personally dislike tagging, but am not sure of another route to gain followers & likes. Suggestions??

    • hi michelle

      there’s nothing wrong with tagging people if they’re in the photo, but using tags as a way to promote tend to tick most people off. just send people photos/info of your work via their preferred contact method instead. or, if you DO tag to promote (ie: tagging d*s on a new product, etc) do it VERY sparingly. but i think email is best. i think leaving comments and having real conversations with people on IG is a better way to get the to know you and follow you. organic connections like that always lead to a stronger bond.


  • Grace, you’re so, well, graceful, as usual. Thanks for this post. My husband and I were just talking about this last night. Things just seem to be going so “insincere” in every form except Twitter, and I haven’t joined because I know I’ll tweet something “not right” someday and pay for it. I did laugh out loud when you did that on pinterest, because you so rarely make a faux pas, and I gave you the benefit of the doubt… glad I did… I, of course, am too in love with pinterest to be as smart as you are about it. I do try to credit everyone… I hope I only have to apologize someday and not more. It kinda reminds me of the whole music sharing thing in the late 90s, what was that site called again? Nabster?

    • carin

      lol. yes, i made a HUGE faux pas. i apologized, changed my ways and learned from it. i think as long as you do that with ANY social media outlet people are generally understanding ;)


  • Such a great post! And I love that it applies to seasoned bloggers, beginner bloggers and just anyone in general who is involved in these social media platforms. While we cannot hinder or monitor what other people will tweet or post about, I do like the idea of filtering and really screening what we like and what we don’t. And the same goes for the reader. I once unfollowed a friend of mine on Instagram for always posting raunchy and sexually explicit photos of herself and it made me very uncomfortable. I’ve thought about maybe writing a quick Facebook status of how much things like that annoy me, but then I figured it could turn really ugly. And so, I unfollowed.

    Now I know that as much fun social media is, we must use it with caution. Thanks again for the great post!

  • hey alex,

    i think grace answered your concerns as i would have – it’s really all about balance and doing what feels authentic to you. if your thought bubble is saying, “hey maybe they’re a little bit sick of hearing about this”, you’re probably right so i try to listen to that. and as far as tweeting personal things, i think it’s really a comfort level that comes with time using twitter. you find your friends, or followers with similar interests and passions, so maybe when you see something super cool or extraordinary you’d normally want to share with a friend, you might share it with your followers. i don’t think you should feel any pressure at all about this. it’s really quite fun, and then there are also certainly days when i have absolutely nothing to say and i step away for awhile. it’s really all up to you.

  • I love this! I was early to Pinterest and late to Instagram + Twitter..don’t know if I will ever catch up with the later two. But I have learned to appreciate the different forms of social media and the way they can connect together. Perhaps I missed this–but any tips of personal (kids, pets, ect) vs business on instagram, ect. Is there a secret ratio? :)

  • This was a great post, and definitely helpful advice for a relatively new blogger/tweeter like myself! One question I seem to get varying answers on is how to properly credit photos I find on the web. So far, I have be direct linking to the original source website. If that the best way? I never want to deny other people/artists the credit they deserve!

  • Grace, this post is so illuminating. I’m sure that I will come back to it to read through all the comments as they develop. I’m still learning how to use social media. I worry about appearing self-indulgent with personal musings and so I tend to under use it. Your “rule of thirds” is a great guideline. Thanks so much.

  • This is great post and hope it gets shared quite a bit! One thing that was touched on but I would love to see more of is people self-editing their photos and posts. I stopped following someone on instagram because she would post not 1-2 photos from store opening or panel discussion but 15. I find it really dilutes my interest in her as someone who is doing interesting things to someone who is just hogging feed and calling attention to themselves (on top of it the photos were extremely uninteresting- the visual version of an observation such as “I am out of milk.”) Generally 1-2 images in any social medium (twitter/fb/insta) will suffice. The other thing regarding photos– I try to be very very careful not to post photos of people I know who are not on FB/instagram unless they happen to be in a photo of an event (in crowd or blurry, etc). Not everyone wants to have their images out there and I respect that.

  • A great and thorough post, thanks for compiling all this. And the comments have some good points as well. I have to say I have a zero tolerance policy on Facebook and Twitter and even on my blog, if anyone comments or tags me just to draw attention to themselves. For example a contractor who tags me in a picture of one of his projects trying to get my followers to look at his work. I find that intolerable and have blocked a number of people for doing it (they do tend to be people I never heard of) FB has some good features to help prevent repeat offenses and spamming but it can be work keeping your presence clean there. On my blog I delete/refuse comments from people pushing a giveaway, making inflammatory statements or just being argumentative for the heck of it, or trying to use my blog to attract traffic to another site. It’s just rude. I was also super annoyed with Pinterest when I first saw it but as I make a point of marking all of my own images I am feeling less hostile about it. In fact I enjoy using it for gathering reference material and I make a real point of noting where the image came from (because otherwise it’s no real use, is it?) Visual artists have to take more care about what they post or their work will inevitably get loose and wind up being republished in a Tumblr blog or Pinterest with no credit.

  • Great post! I just wanted to let people (and Emily Henderson) know that it IS possible to change your Instagram name. I did to to match my Twitter/Instagram accounts — you keep all your followers and nothing changes except your handle.

  • this was a great read: thank you!
    i was early to pinterest and i love it the most: i love that it isn’t as social as fb or twitter or instagram. i love that my boards are for me to look at and love and draw inspiration from. at least, that’s how i use it, especially now that i can make private boards. i love that instagram lets me see the stories of people’s lives in little pictures. really liked your thoughts on these two platforms.

  • Love- LOVE this post however no one addressed that most important rule of social media-do not drink wine while Facebooking or tweeting.

  • Fantastic resource to send to newbies. And possibly to those that use these as over the top opportunities for self promotion. I’ve noticed a number of individuals also post things in third person. Or maybe they have multiple people posting for them Either way, it’s hard to find an authentic voice when you doubt who the writer is.

  • This is one of the most interesting post I have read on the subject of Social Media. My pet peeve is when someone posts the exact same thing on every one. I don’t think you need to tweet every Instagram picture or Facebook post, I feel like if you don’t want to actually put original content out there, just don’t have an account.

  • What a wonderful list. I know I’ve made a few of the mistakes and am glad to be reminded of the do’s and don’ts. Definitely need to change the way I promote my blog on Twitter. Since I’m promoting other artists, I gave myself a pass. Yeah, that ends today.

  • Some excellent points here. But I can’t stress enough how pinning photos on Pinterest requires permission from the photographer/copyright holder and proper credit. (“Google” is not the photographer, as people often indicate). This is basic copyright law 101. For those who are interested in hearing a photographer’s perspective, I’ve written a piece about why I don’t want any of my photos “pinned” on Pinterest. http://www.tarabradford.com/2013/02/picture-this-pinterest.html

  • Loved this article, and I loved reading through all the comments as well. I’m relatively new to twitter and just starting a facebook page for my blog, but been on pinterest for what feels like ages, and I’m only now just beginning to understand how very different all these platforms are. I used to think, what’s the difference, why would I want both facebook AND twitter? But now I see the different personalities and opportunities with each and it’s actually starting to sound kind of fun. Thanks again for a great post!

  • This was a really great post! However, I struggle with reading these types of posts. It kind of suppresses the individual and it comes off as telling them what they should and shouldn’t do, when to do it, how to do it etc., which make peoples interaction and involvement with social media seem unnatural, forced, not confident and most importantly not themselves because they’re so afraid of messing up. It’s almost better to let people figure it out on their own and if they need advice they know how to ask for it.

    • Tori

      I understand your concern, but I write these posts based on requests from readers. I’m doing this because people have asked for this specific advice. Clearly everyone is free to follow their own rules and guidelines, but a lot of people find it’s helpful to have some tips for being successful on social media when their business or professional reputation is attached to it :)


  • What a great article, with important tips and reminders for those of us new to social media, and old pros alike. Of particular interest is the information on what to do and, more importantly, what not to do when building a business presence across social media platforms. (I really like Julie’s divide-and-conquer approach!) Thank you for a great article full of lessons and strategies. A must-read for anyone who uses social media!

  • Interesting thoughts & discussion. I started out on Twitter, but haven’t ever really gotten into it. Facebook was second & I’ve reconnected with old friends there. Flickr was third & lastly Pinterest. Pinterest has, so far, been more of a place to corral & find things that I like or find useful. Flickr is a way to keep up with artists I find amazing, in some way. Twitter has become my least used platform, as its been the least ‘social’ in many ways, with many ‘ads’ & promotions. I used to see lots of funny, interesting or otherwise engaging updates. I like many of the tips here, especially for using Twitter. I hope to use them to leave less clutter myself & maybe I’ll see more content from others, as well. Thank you!

  • I have to say that the thing I’m most sick of seeing on social media is all the sucking up. “Look at how beautiful you are!” “OMG girl! Soooo stunning!” “Wow, such a yummy mummy!” I don’t need to see attention seeking, photoshopped, bathroom at the nightclub shots. I don’t need to see you in black and white, halfway through your third trimester, wearing no bra or top but strategically covering up. The compliments come so fast and so regularly that you just know there’s no genuine feeling behind them. It’s like a big, digital reach around. No one talks like that in real life. It just comes across as being phony and contrived. Especially when it’s the same people in my feed participating in this crap all the time….

  • This was a great piece for me. As a photographer, just starting out, it’s good to know the etiquette of social media, as so many young start-ups do not know this, but, really should! Thank you all so much for sharing your insights, they’ll prove to be invaluable as I begin to shape my business!

  • I think this is one of the best articles on social media I have come across. I have found it really hard to get used to all the different platforms and have certainly made some of these errors. I’ve wondered about Twitter, if sometimes the FF ‘friday follow’ thing clutters the stream (do followers like/mind seeing a massive stream of recommendations of who to follow because sometimes it seems on a Friday that the other stuff gets lost amongst it), so I don’t tend to do it; but then I feel I am being rude by not returning or responding if someone has added me in there, and I certainly appreciate the recommendation. Any thoughts on etiquette surrounding mentions and ff etc on Twitter is appreciated.

  • I am most definitely guilty of over pinning! I have tried to correct the error of my ways by only tweeting a select few out in to the world, instead of all of the like I used to. I do tend to pin in blocks though, as I have very little time to just sit down and enjoy a good pinning session. That said though, I tend to get my most repins at these times too, as it seems a lot of my followers are weekend pinners too!

  • Fantastic post! I’m new to social media and this was just so helpful. Some things I am already guilty of so will try my best to correct my ways. I think it would be useful for people to vote with their ‘follows’ and ‘freinds’ and don’t follow/freind those who don’t add something to their social media relationship. Many thanks for sharing all of this information.

  • Oh wow. This is a really helpful bunch of viewpoints. (Just saw your post o. Fb and hopped over to read the latest etiquette post). It’s really interesting to get the insight of people who use the Internet so frequently and thoughtfully. Sometimes, for me, the web seems like an afterthought.

    I will definitely re-read this, and probably use some of the insights here as I try to improve my own online presence. : )

    Buthe way, I really like that these etiquette posts are about re than just the right/wrong way to behave. I like that they are contextual, and very broad based in terms of what etiquette is, where it can be applied, and how it’s not a set of rules, buts way to improve your quality of life by being your best, most authentic self.

  • Thanks, Grace, for the fabulous post – all 7.000 words! Pinterest has been a cause for concern ever since I read from an artist’s blog that Pinterest becomes the copyright holder for whatever digital image is place on their board, even when it is the artist who might place it on their own board in an attempt to share. I totally agree with Tara Bradford’s reasoning behind not wanting her work pinned. This is the major reason I have not gone, nor am I interested in going to Pinterest, even for a “look see”. I find this blatant disregard for people’s hard work and property appalling.

  • Grace, thanks for such a well written & informative post. I’m a stickler for good manners, so really appreciate having a guide like this. I find that applying the same rules that you would in a face to face interaction is a good yardstick, but there were definitely some things I hadn’t thought of, such as over-pinning (I’ve definitely done that!). I’ll be sure to re-read and share this article. Thank you.

  • Such a wonderful, in-depth post that we will all benefit from and refer to again and again. There is alot to digest these day and though I have been blogging for 4 years I am newer to the other platforms such as Twitter, Instagram so still finding my way and figuring it out. I guess this means we should try to assume that maybe they just don’t know that etiquette yet and help them along if it is apparent? Now I am guilty about over feeding my Pinterest and just love how it gets me on a roll………….but I also didn’t relize how it was affecting the feed page in general. I will try to space out my small daily pleasure. Thank you again!

  • Thank you for this post! I am thankful that more and more people are getting the word out about social media etiquette. It is long overdue!

    I too closed my personal Facebook account and despite the pressure from friends and business acquaintances have stuck to my decision. Erin, thank you for letting me know that I am not alone in this decision. It’s been very difficult to fend off the peer pressure. My personal page became overwhelming and emotionally toxic due to all the negativity, passive aggressive behavior, and over sharing. In addition, I’d rather keep most of my personal life just that, personal and private.

    I really enjoy my business Facebook page for my Etsy shop KiteFlier as a way to connect with friends and fans, to allow them to get to know me in ways I am comfortable with and to share my inspiration for what I create and to celebrate a life well lived. It has become a joy and I have received so much support and encouragement from my followers.

    I’ve felt so guilty for some of my etiquette violations early on and for the times when I still slip up so it’s encouraging to know that I’m not alone in my learning process.

    Thank you again for this timely article!

  • How about not posting photos of friends’ weddings before they do? I eloped this weekend, not in the traditional sense, but had a very small wedding where only family and local friends knew. A few guests posted photos of it on Facebook and Instagram, et voila, surprise ruined. I hadn’t wanted to send out a social media policy to my guests before the wedding, but at my next one, I will ;)

  • What a great post, thank you; insightful and informative in equal measure… and great to have such a range of contributors. For me the most resonant message was the one about positivity, and thinking of the recipient. I write a small, craft-based blog and from time to time my content gets picked up & featured on major sites – I’m always surprised and disappointed by how ready a small minority of people are to make negative & thoughtless comments (‘that looks crazily complicated’, ‘I pity her kids’, ‘who’d want to wear that?’) … it’s so unnecessary; they almost certainly wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, so why online? Despite being countered by a huge volume of lovely comments and feedback, it’s the kind of thing that makes you want to just withdraw. Hopefully pieces like this help to spread the positivity a little further!

  • Wow. What a lot of effort in creating this post. Thank you so much. I am new to blogging and this will certainly be a key reference guide. Thanks to everyone inovloved for sharing. Great read.

  • Hi Grace,
    Thanks so much for tackling this subject: it couldn’t have come at a better time as I just started blogging myself and have lots of questions, especially as it pertains to image (re)use. I’ve always looked to you, and the guest bloggers you’ve interviewed here, as mentors (no pressure!). When I want to post an artists’ work, I usually email them and ask for permission first, and I’ve always gotten a very appreciative response. But I’m wondering if it is truly necessary to get permission first from every single artist? It seems that if a link/credit is provided the original creator would be happy to have their image shared? Hence the nature of social. Btw—I’ve often wondered why there is no “pin it” button on design Sponge….now I know!

    • sue

      we’re actually going to be adding one soon ;)

      that said, i think it is important to ask, but i think the rule of thumb a lot of people seem to be operating under (for better or worse) is that people SELLING something (etsy work, etc) would be ok having their work on pinterest if the credit is included, so they can drum up sales and press.


  • You’ve made some really excellent points. There are a lot of things I just don’t think of, being that I’ve only been blogging for just over a year… I’m still pretty new to the entire aspect of blogging. I’m also new to the world of facebook too, in a way, as I deleted my personal account a few years ago and only joined again for the sake of creating a a blog page. And you’re right, some (if not all) of what you shared is timeless in regards to the principle behind courtesy and respect in the online atmosphere.
    I had a less than merry experience with a blogger whom I chose to advertise with when she didn’t follow through with the written promise of a group feature post, which usually brings a lot more attention than a sidebar advertisement. Long story short, I was able to get a partial refund for what I paid to sponsor her blog, but ultimately because I was the one coming to her and even having to ask for the refund because she did not follow through with what was promised left a bridge burned and ultimately, I also became uninterested in her entire online reputation, which includes a blog and shop. I think she does great things with her shop and blog, but she handled a business transaction very poorly and I’ll never forget the disappointment and kink that it put in my own business plans.

  • I just wanted to respond to your reply on my earlier comment. I totally agree with you that no one should take other people’s work and post it to pinterest. I just love to collect lovely things on pinterest, and rarely put my own images on it.

    Thanks for all of your hard work, Grace!

  • I’ve Pinned the title graphic of this article to a work life board on Pinterest with a url to bring people here. I have also posted it in LinkedIn. Hope that’s alright. If it isn’t, I’ll remove stat. Just thought it was an article worth sharing. Thank you.

  • This is a wonderful post that I shall link to on Facebook and my blog. Thanks for dealing with this important topic so thoroughly. Initially I set up a personal Facebook account and a business one. I assumed that I could play traffic cop and people would get it. I kept content separate and only accepted friend requests from those I knew. Over time I realized that over and over again, people wanted to be on BOTH my personal site and the business site. I thought it was odd because I wouldn’t want to be on both for anyone else. Over time, however, I began to realize that I am part of my brand and that although I would prefer to separate business and personal cleanly, that others want to (for reasons I’ll never understand) know that we bought a new apple tree or that we’re rode 50 miles on our bikes. Like it or not, not sharing that innocuous stuff makes people feel less connected to our work and brand. So I began accepting friend requests from people I didn’t know who clearly were fans (you can tell by looking at their page) and using the groups settings for truly personal stuff that I just want to share with close friends and family. After I accept their friend request I thank them and ask them to like my business page as well, explaining that’s where the business chat is. It’s a way of giving people what they want, while also maintaining the option for personal posts. Oddly, 99% respond that they want both personal and business news. I don’t get it but it’s clearly important to them to know the person behind the brand.

    • Thank you,I learned alot.before I just felt really dumb,and I think to much,I really don’t like to post.they said if u don’t hit like or comment they would be block.is it wrong to remove people that you don’t know?cause I notice when u friend someone you get all their followers,I received a text from my friend asking why I unfriend one of her followers,I said if I don’t know them I hit remove,is this being disrepectful?if u address this sorry for repeating this,I’m 56 and really new at this,it’s scary and I really don’t like telling people everything,and I don’t talk politics,cuss , just shock with language at times.well I bore you with this,reading what you had I learned alot.just thought removing someone I don’t know I was just repecting I feel odd reading someone page that I don’t know.thank you,for your help,melissa.

  • One issue that’s not addressed here is some (not D*S’s) blogs’ tendency to delete any comment that is not glowing. I am a reader of one of the bloggers interviewed here, and have never ever posted anything remotely critical. However, I have noticed that she only publishes glowing/gushing/fawning, praise from readers, with a very very rare mildly not-gushing comment. Honestly, this is too much! It’s not intellectually honest.

    While I don’t think any blogger should embrace mean-spirited or abusive comments, if you aren’t going to publish anything but compliments, then change the name from “comments” to “fan-girls respond.”

  • Thank you for all the insight into social media etiquette. It’s quite helpful. I appreciate all of you sharing your thoughts.

  • These are comprehensive list of etiquette while you in social media. These reminds me that you can’t do all things because it will reflect in your personality. Just remember, you are in social media to build trust, be lovable and be friendly.

  • I would also really like to see more people with Twitter accounts responding to comments that people tweet at them. It’s meant to be an interactive forum, not a board for opining about whatever’s on your mind. I know some people get a lot of tweets, but it’s bad public relations to ignore your audience.

  • What a useful information this is. I am so behind with this social media stuff but I am learning what kind of social media is useful for what based on the Q & A above. Also, I am overwhelmed with so many social media out there right now like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. but now I have a good insight of what they are {again from reading this post}. Thank you All for sharing.

  • I will keep this brief! This is AMAZING content and very much needed, for me. Thank you so much for posting it!

  • Beware the overshare? Haha – that’s too funny. Thanks for the post. I look forward to seeking your help in my next dinner party.

  • Very interesting article. I would love to see an ‘etiquette for bloggers’ post – too often I feel that bloggers miss the value of interacting with readers rather than just posting, tweeting, instagraming for the sake of making blog-related announcements.

    Responding personally to comments, answering emails and interacting with readers is a valuable tool to engage with and (more importantly) keep life long followers. It’s positive, friendly and even, well, polite. Sometimes that’s more effective than ‘reaching the masses’. I don’t think many bloggers consider this…

  • I agree :), that’s why I think even an automated reply thanking a reader for their email can be as great as any personal response. I totally get the job-kids-home situation and that everyone’s time is so incredibly valuable. On the flip side, it’s usually the BIG bloggers that make their living from their blogs that are the worst with correspondence. There’s nothing as degrading as not receiving a reply after you’ve enthusiastically written to one of the bloggers you follow on a regular basis to share how much you admire their work, or to ask a question related to a recent project. Not that I do that often… but I can speak from experience as well.

    Responding to every email – even with the world’s quickest reply – was one of those 101 lessons that I learned in business school but one that I don’t think everyone considers as etiquette. Just my 2 cents for all of those lovely bloggers out there! Especially the ones that do so well and have garnered a fantastic audience.

  • My dad died last week and many people posted a simple condolence post, some publicly and some privately. Is a general public comment from me thanking them sufficient, or should I send a message to each one on their message board with a thank-you?

    • howard,

      i think when the loss is on your end, you’re more than safe to post a general ‘thank you’ to everyone. they know you have important things you’re dealing with and won’t expect an individual response. however, if people send flowers or something more specific, it would be nice to mention it to them personally later, when you have time.


  • I’m really enjoying the design and layout of your website. It’s a very easy on
    the eyes which makes it much more enjoyable for me to come here
    and visit more often. Did you hire out a developer to create your theme?
    Outstanding work!

  • When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get several emails
    with the same comment. Is there any way you can
    remove people from that service? Many thanks!

  • In fact when someone doesn’t know afterward its up to other people that they will help, so here it occurs.

  • Grace, do you have a place you can direct me to where you have written about using Pinterest? I am concerned to only pin from sources where I see the button is there – but how can you trust the site you’re pinning from that they have the rights to the content they have even uploaded? Is there a general rule of thumb you use when pinning and how can we enjoy this site but make sure we don’t breach copyright issues or discredit others? I know you must be sooooo busy, but I don’t know where to find advice on this and it really bothers me!!

    • Hi Martha

      Google image search is your best friend here. If you want to pin an image that isn’t an obvious product shot or photo clearly belonging to a blog, just pull the photo onto your desktop, go to Google search, then click “image” then in the search bar you’ll see a camera icon. Click that, upload the image and it will show you (90% of the time) the original source of that image, so you can credit properly :)


  • Hi Grace,
    I’ve been searching the internet for an answer to this question, but haven’t really found one. So I’m going to ask you. Is it proper to share photos from Instagram, Twitter, etc. that a person posts and tags a friend of theirs who happens to be a celebrity? Or should the photos only be shared if the celebrity themself shares/posts/retweets the photo?

    I run a fan page on Facebook for a newer not well known actress. I don’t personally know her either. From paying attention a little, myself and other fan sites have figured out who some of her friends are on Instagram and Twitter. Her friends post pictures of her and sometimes will tag her. So if they’re public already, is it okay to share them on the fan page? What are your thoughts? Sometimes they seem innocent enough to share, other times I feel it could invasive of her private life and time.

    Oh the dilema. :)

  • Hi Grace,

    This is a great article!

    I’m trying to get as much information as I can regarding live-tweeting for a TV show without overwhelming my current followers into un-following the account?

    Hypothetically, let’s say I give my followers a notice that I’ll be live-tweeting a 30-minute or 60-minute TV show and I’ll be tweeting at a much higher frequency than usual. If that notice is given and most of the noteworthy events occur after the final commercial break, how many Tweets at most would you suggest I post during the hour that the show is on? How many in the hour or so after the show ends?

    Your feedback would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank You!


    • Hi Erik!

      I think as long as you warn people (I’d say an hour ahead) that’s good enough. If you do a live tweet every week then maybe start a different account (ie: ErikLive) and re-tweet the occasional tweet from there to your main account so people know it’s happening, but can choose to follow you somewhere else if they don’t want that frequent type of posting. I’d say no more than 10-12 tweets per 30 min show?


  • Hello!
    My biggest pet peeve is when people post pictures or information about me without getting my permission. Don’t I have a right to keep my personal life private if I want to?

  • Thanks so much for this, Grace. I see you posted this 4 years ago but it’s still really useful!

  • I like what you guys are usually up too. This kind of clever work and coverage!

    Keep up the fantastic works guys I’ve you guys to my own blogroll.

  • Good information.
    I will occassionally make comments on Facebook however do not utilize any other social networking sights. Email is my main medium for communicating, aside from actually talking with people on the phone.

  • I think of all of this information is very good and a must know. I feel it is very important to respect others and treat them as you would want to be treated. I try to keep things on social media very short and to the point and never never use it against someone. I do most things in person and use telephone and email as my main lines of communication.

  • Good information, the key is respect. If you can’t say something nice don’t say anything

  • To me its more of a you get what you put into it kind of thing.
    I like FB and I keep up with my children through that and basic texting. I have read many things and some I agree with and others I do not agree with, However, that does not mean I needed to voice my opinion. Because truth be told most of the time your only getting half of the story.

  • We shall all be aware of the consequences of lack of privacy once on social media.
    It surely can be a great tool but also harmful, and rules of conduct shall always be applied.

  • I really can’t stand when friends on FB start selling: Juices, Legal Assistance, Shakes, Kitchenware etc and they blow my page up with sales pitches.

  • Tremendous things here. I am very happy to see your
    article. Thanks a lot and I am looking ahead to contact you.
    Will you kindly drop me a e-mail?

  • Social media has become the village square talking platform and it is under attack. Conservatives are being banned for not being socially correct.We are in danger of losing our first amendment rights.