A recent article featured in the Guardian by Alex Hern entitled ‘Never get high on your own supply’ delved into why social media bosses don’t use social media. Reading that the very people who invented these social sites and strongly promote them don’t use them might be a surprise to many.

Social media has such a strong presence in our culture today, so it's quite astonishing that the ‘founding fathers’ of social media object to using it. What do they know that we don’t?

#1 social media influences how we feel about ourselves and the world we live in

#2 it is compulsive and addictive

#3 we have no idea what the repercussions of using social will be

The article shares that the people who created these social platforms know all of this and they use it to their advantage.

Sean Parker, the founding president of Facebook, exclaimed that he is “a conscientious objector” to social media at a conference this past October. Parker  is sounding the alarm to the dangers of social media and the deliberate ways that social networks do everything in their power to keep us coming back, even at the risk of hurting our brains.

The common understanding of what is considered appropriate has been drastically morphed over the years. Just log on to any social media site and you can immediately see the bullying and spewing of disrespectful rhetoric about race, politics, religion and everything in between. Could this transformation have to do with social media?

A recent national survey reported that an astonishing 75 percent of Americans believe that incivility has risen to crisis levels. Many people believe that technology plays a central role in the decline of good manners.

Stories of individuals being fired and even arrested for things they have said on social media sites have amounted to the thousands.  In late 2007, The American School of Protocol was asked to write the 'Dos and Don'ts of Using Technology and Social Media' into our Etiquette Certification curriculum because social media classes were in high demand. 

Technology and social media have reshaped the understanding and awareness of etiquette. Personal interaction is now being replaced with screen time, texts, online classes, dms, snapchats, and so on. And we are only just beginning to see the effects this has on our society. 

Apple’s chief executive, Tim Cook, said “Technology by itself doesn’t want to be good and it doesn’t want to be bad either. It takes humans to make sure that the things that you do with it are good.”

Since including our initial 'Dos and Don'ts of Using Technology and Social Media'' into our syllabus, we have written extensively on this topic to help educate others.  New content has been added every year and we ultimately had to give 'Technology and Communication' its own section in our training manual. 

"We are doing our best to combat the problem, but it would be easier if we had more support", says The American School of Protocol Founder, Peggy Newfield. Her words to those who want to listen,"Be aware of what you post, how you respond, and what you read. Social media already takes up much of our time and energy, don't let it take your dignity." 

A Beginner’s Guide to Navigating Social Media

It’s captivating, convenient, effective… and a massive pain-in-the-neck if you’ve never used it before; you can’t simply follow the Yellow Brick Road! “Social Media” is the buzzword on the tip of every business owner’s tongue. But why? What is it about our world that makes us so enraptured by the Tweets, posts and blogs? It comes down to simple psychology: we all want to be involved. These sprawling digital networks enable us to achieve new levels of involvement. As budding entrepreneurs, you can harness this platform to cultivate your presence online. Here are some tips on maximizing your popularity.

 

Create content.

You’ll know that your main goal is to promote your company and stimulate sales, but there’s no need to make this obvious to your followers. Post fun pictures, quotes, links or blogs that don’t mention your business. Be subtle if you want to self-promote: highlight your product in use or post pictures of appealing things that relate to your business. If people enjoy your creative content, they’ll be more curious to explore your business side.

 

Ask for feedback.

Social Media is all about being social – who would’ve guessed it? Interact with your customers and fans by asking them for their input. Craft polls, create forums for discussion, reply to comments, and encourage your readers to submit content of their own. Not many people can resist sharing their own opinions and ideas, so let them! Social Media is a two way street, and, though it sounds strange coming from the mouth of an Atlanta-resident, you want as much traffic as you can get!

 

Try a giveaway or contest.

Incentivize spreading your message by organizing contests or give out freebies. Raffle off popular products to community members who participate regularly or who share your posts with friends. Ignite your followers’ competitive streaks by initiating a contest. Ask trivia questions, or challenge them to submit their own photos or ideas for judging. Reward winners with prizes.

 

Don’t flood your followers.

Manage your posting to ensure that your followers look forward to your updates, rather than automatically discarding them as spam. Limit yourself to one to two posts a day and try to make them meaningful, constructive posts.

 

Branch out into other mediums.

YouTube has rocketed to worldwide coverage and attracts an immeasurable number of viewers each day. If you know someone with basic camera skills, try your hand at making a how-to instruction video, a behind-the-scenes peak of the inner workings of your company, or a video blog. If you’re camera-shy, you can get behind the lens and use Instagram to attract a following of the pictures you take. With Instagram’s hashtag system, you can reach a wider audience than ever before as users browse photos that are sorted by their hashtags: #Simpleasthat #Photography #Marketing #Easy

 

Read the data.

Social Media websites cater to businesses; many provide easy-to-view analytical information that shows you the size and demographics of your audience. You can harness this information to tailor your posts to interest the people visiting your page.

 

Check up on your competition.

Try googling competing businesses. Take note of the search words that you used to find them, and work to incorporate these key search-words into your website. This will boost your SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, by pushing your website to the top of related Internet searches.

A common understanding of etiquette has been drastically morphed over the years.   It seems as though today’s younger generation is characterized by rudeness, compared to traditional standards of etiquette. Many people believe that technology plays a central role in the decline of good manners and the media agrees.

Talkin on the Phone During Dinner

The integration of technology and social media into nearly each and every act of interpersonal communication, particularly among young people, is changing the common understanding of what is considerate behavior and what is inappropriate. The less face-time people have with others, the less accountable they are for their behavior.  If someone is rude or inappropriate online, they may never have to answer for their behavior in-person.  It is difficult to understand the virtual implications of inconsiderate treatment.

With mobile technology, people can expand their social circles and connect instantaneously with anyone.  While the number of friends we have may be increasing, often the quality of those friendships, particularly with those people we actually do see face-to-face, is declining. The more time people spend expanding their circle of friends online, the less time they spend cultivating healthy and satisfying relationships in person.

Mobile communications and social media have re-shaped the understanding and awareness of etiquette both virtually and in-person.  Have you ever been invited to spend time with someone, then been ignored by that person because they were texting or calling others?  If so you have witnessed the effects of technology on interpersonal communication. The Internet, mobile devices, and social media are critical to us and for businesses.

Don’t ever forget that face to face interactions are just as important.  Make the goal of your day focus on kindness, courtesy and consideration for everyone you meet – virtually and in-person.