Who wants to spend time and energy establishing a social media presence only to ruin it by committing social media faux pas?

Before engaging in any social media activity, be sure to conduct yourself like the decent person you are so that your efforts will be worthwhile. Social media is all about engaging and connecting with your target audience. Only through genuine engagement you will really experience the full potential of social media. By following the tips below you will not only make great connections but you will maintain or enhance the way others see you and keep your online reputation squeaky clean.

1. Don’t be overzealous to start sharing. Take a little time to familiarize yourself with the different social media sites, their rules and policies. Start sharing only when you feel you have familiarized yourself with these.

2. Don’t start without a plan and a clearly defined goal. Delay your social media initiatives until you truly grasp the concept of social media and you have a strategy for your product, service or brand. Put some thought into what you hope to achieve through social media and keep this question at the back of your mind to guide you through everything you do in the social media realm.

3. Don’t start if you cannot commit. Once you understand what social media is all about are you are ready to begin, be prepared to dedicate time to the process. You don’t want to start, develop a following and have your initiatives fall by the wayside because you don’t have the time to keep up with the continuous engagement process needed to succeed at social media.

4. Don’t be a phony. No one likes a phony and they are easier to spot than you may think. Don’t hide your real identity. Social media is all about engagement and relationship building. How many valuable relationships do you know that have been built by anonymity? Just be your nice, sharing, intelligent, thoughtful, charming self and you will be sure to achieve your objectives for engaging in social media.

5. Don’t spam. Now why would you want to engage in activity that is not only counterproductive but could get you banned or blocked from your friends or followers? Spam sucks. Remember, social media is all about engagement. Not annoying others. No one wants to read tweets or other content stuffed with keywords or receive some automated update every five minutes on your product or service. Engaging in excessive self-promotion can also cause your friends and followers to see you as being too spammy. Spamming is a sure-fire way to get blacklisted.

6. Don’t be a stalker! Yes, people do actually stalk others on Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites. I don’t believe that these people set out intending to stalk other it’s just that they may be a bit sensitive or easily offended. So, if you invited someone to become your buddy and they declined the invitation, just let it slide. It is nothing personal, I bet. If you become insistent that they befriend you and keep resending the invitation you run the risk of tarnishing your reputation. After all, you don’t want to know as that stalker guy!

7. Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know or know well. Ever heard the saying show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are? The same pretty much applies in social media. When accepting friend requests be sure you know the person you are accepting them from or at least check out their profile. Don’t just accept request from every Tom, Dick or Harry that wants to befriend you. Do some screening. You don’t want to befriend someone who is not interested in sharing but you want to spam you with stuff you have no interest in.

8. Don’t be mean. If one of your friend puts up or shares something that you don’t particularly like or agree with, say nothing if you can’t say it nicely. The last thing you want is a war of words. You’ll end up looking foolish if that person retorts in a nasty way and an online fight ensues. This sort of behavior will cause your professionalism to be brought into question.