Seven Things I Shouldn’t Need to Tell You about Social Media (4 – 7)

On Monday I posted the first three of seven types of online behavior that seem so obviously wrong that nobody should need to be told not to do them. This morning I’m back with the other four.

4. Obey the Rules
Regardless of what anyone tells you (including me), you should read the rules, policies and privacy statements of any social media websites you register with. You need to know what you are and are not permitted to do on each site, and also what others may and may not do to you. The rules are different on each site so you need to check.

For example, LinkedIn promotes itself as a networking platform for professionals and they expect corresponding “professional” behavior. This includes using your real name and photograph (if you include one) in your profile–no nicknames, no cartoons or pictures of your kids. Facebook and Twitter are more social than professional and allow you to use nicknames, your company or organization name, and nearly anything that isn’t likely to be considered obscene or offensive. Still, if you are using Twitter or Facebook to promote yourself professionally–and especially if you link between either of those and your LinkedIn profile–you’ll want to keep it businesslike.

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Seven Things I Shouldn’t Need to Tell You about Social Media (1 – 3)

About a month ago I signed up with Twitter and I have to say that I’m totally addicted to it. I had wondered what anyone could possibly say in 140 characters or less; it turns out that with clever use of links, one can say quite a lot. Even the short quips can be amusing, informative or a pointer to explore elsewhere.

The one thing I don’t always love about Twitter is that it’s a much more open platform than other social networking sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook. This is good because it enables ‘Tweeple’ to follow almost anyone they fancy. It’s less good because it means some annoying fools may follow you. But that’s not limited to Twitter, just easier. Even on supposedly professional networking sites such as LinkedIn there are some jerks.

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This photo was taken on June 7, 1994, from the Staten Island Ferry. Because it was night I used a long exposure time and the thrum of the Ferry’s engines cause the lights of the skyline to appear as crescent moons. when I first saw the developed image, I thought it a failure and almost threw it out. Instead I tossed it in a box with some other sub-par photographs.

The World Trade Center at night, June 7, 1994

In early 2002 I found it again. Of course it had a totally different effect–a suggestion of the World Trade Center, towers invisible, only the blurred outline of the lights against the night skyline.

By the time I rediscovered the photo, I was working for the American Red Cross. My journey there (too long to go into here) was very much like that photo. I don’t mean to negate the tragedy of that morning–it was awful in many ways and some of the harm can never be undone. But when people united to take action there were also many good things that happened, stories of courage, hard work, and sometimes just a dogged determination not to give up.

People reached out to help one another, and made enormous donations of money, time and blood (which turned out to be unnecessary, but was generous nonetheless). There was an awareness of how vulnerable our nation’s large urban centers are, which led to efforts (still not complete, but at least begun) to prepare for disasters. And personally, I got to know an excellent group of people while working for the Red Cross.

The Transformative Removal of Jargon for Impactful Writing

As someone with a bachelors degree in English, I pay attention to words. When I worked as an administrative specialist in an IT department, I was careful about using terminology correctly–even if I only half-understood the technology behind it.

So when I see jargon overrunning both the technology and non-profit fields, it annoys me. Of course there is a need for new words and phrases, especially in the technology fields; but where a perfectly good word or expression exists, it’s not necessary to reinvent (or rename) the wheel.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy recently published an article by Elizabeth Ortiz entitled “How Jargon Can Damage Nonprofit Work” that targets three buzzwords run amok–impactful, transformative, and innovative.

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