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10 things your grandmother can teach you about social media

Social media isn't something we have to learn. We just have to apply what we already know to a new social environment. The same personal qualities and social skills that you (hopefully) learned growing up are what will make you successful at social media. Here are 10 things an older relative probably told you at some point that you can apply to social media.

  1. Mind your manners. Social media is still social. Even though we are interacting in a virtual space, the same traditional social rules, laws, and faux pas still apply. If you act like a jerk, don't expect many friends.
  2. Tuck in your shirt. How you present yourself is just as important in the virtual world as it is in the real world. Make sure you are always aware of how you appear to others.
  3. Send a thank you card. People still appreciate being appreciated. It really doesn't take much to convert an acquaintance to a friend, which will offer exponentially more value. A simple thank you, or any genuinely human interaction of gratitude goes a long way towards this goal.
  4. Keep your elbows off the table. Acting respectfully in front of others proves that you value them, which will usually make them value you more. And in social media, it's all about value.
  5. Turn your music down. Don't contribute to the noise. Listen to whatever you want in your own personal space, but when your personal preferences start to become a distraction to others, people will tune you out.
  6. Finish what you started. Any way you look at it, engagement is a commitment. When you make an effort to become part of a community, it's not only up to you when or how often you interact with other members. If you put yourself out there as a friend, be prepared to be there when people reach out to you.
  7. Finish your vegetables. There are some aspects of social media that aren't sexy. But that doesn't mean they aren't important to your growth and health. Make sure you are keeping up with the essentials, and not just chasing that buzz you get from a social sugar high.
  8. Whatever happened to a good old fashioned…? Sometimes all these new gadgets and thingamabobs aren't as important or effective as we make them out to be. Sometimes a good old fashioned email, phone call, or even in person “get-together” can accomplish things that social media can't.
  9. A man is only as good as his word. The currency of social media is trust (or social capital). And if people can't trust you, you have no value to them.
  10. Think twice before you speak. You can always say something, but you can never take it back. Especially in social media where everything you say can be heard by anyone, forever, there are just too many “finites” to not reconsider everything you say before you say it.

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  • May 24 Posted 4 years ago kellypuffs

    Loved this so much I adapted it into a haikudeck preso:

    Hope that's ok! :-)

  • Nov 27 Posted 5 years ago Kermit

    What Your Dog Can Teach You About Social Media

    Churning through social media headlines isn’t just a headache.  It’s vile, leaving you with a massive Internet hangover.  Eyes glazed at screen in a semi-comatose state. And you wonder: how is it possible to be so overwhelmed by such an underwhelming pool of self-help tips? Seven deadly sins of social media.  The Ten Commandments of Social Media—and its new Moses (probably the kiss-ass who half-assed that article you just read.)

    The web is, sadly, laden with some truly useless, trite-ass bullshit tips on social media.  Tweet all the time and keep your disciples engaged.  But not too often, lest your Tweetmates turn apostate. Don’t want them goin’ all apeshit on you.  They could do something really effed up then.  Like unfriend you. 

    As one of my Tweeps (we’ll call him Stan) helpfully threatens in his bio, “I have an unfollow button too, mother-effers.  You use it on me, I will find you and unfollow you back.”

    Really, your social media goal is this: don’t piss off Stan.  You want a whole shit-ton of Stans to follow or ‘like’ your ass on Facebook and Twitter.  And not can it, with an unfollow or ‘unlike.’

    Simple.  To be good at social media, be more like your dog.  Here are Fido’s top ten tricks to be goddamn (if not doggone good) at social media.

    1. Enthusiasm

    Be excited about what others have to share!  Share wondrous childlike joy! Be responsive to their comments!  Make sure your response has an upbeat, positive response bursting with over-the-top, lively, ADHD energy.  Yet also sincere and credible in tone.  Try channeling the right aura or mix of Mother Teresa, John McEnroe and MJ.

    2.  Loyalty

    Just like your dog is loyal to you, be loyal to your fans!  Thank them for following you!  Tag them in pictures!  Do try to spell and their names correctly and remember how the hell you know them.  A cheap, mass-mailed “thank you” card in lovely, fake-ass gold leaf foil (with red ink in lieu of a postage stamp) lends a warm and thoughtful touch to many a ketchup-stained refrigerator.  It’s sure to be a delightful standout amongst the broad array fingerprints and magnetic kitsch.

    3. Don’t Over Indulge

    Dogs, like most of us, tend to overdo it.  Your dog doesn’t go for the alluring box of biscuits or chicken breast to daintily eat just a bite or two.  No, she gulps it all own within split seconds.  You want the pleasure of social media to last.  It’s something to be savored long-term, not devoured within days, weeks, or months.  Pace your self.  Post headlines and send email blasts judiciously.  If every communication is a call to action, you’ll soon be completely ignored.

    4. Mind Your Manners

    Just as your dog benefited from obedience school as a rambunctious young pup, so too can you benefit from learning to mind your social media manners.  Make sure to not “jump up” or overwhelm on initial Internet greetings (i.e. right when a friend request is accepted.) Social media crotch-sniffings are not appropriate until a sufficient passage of time has passed (i.e. two weeks) and genuine rapport has been struck.

    5.  Take Breaks When You Need It

    At dog parks on in the backyard, your dog will halt from barking and play, as needed, to rest.  This preserves his energy, well-being, and healthful canine glow.  Similarly, it’s unwise to go full-force at Facebooking and Tweeting without pauses for rest and restoration.  Like your dog, you too can (and should!) indulge of moments of repose to take a nap.  Lap water.  Or lick your crotch.  Note, if state laws, local ordinances, and/or your own flexibility do not permit public ball lickings, private masturbation and/or handjobs is an acceptable alternative.

    6.  Don’t Eat Where You Shit

    When housebreaking my dog, the trainer told me to scatter the food in places where he liked to “go,” thus discouraging indoor accidents.  Your dog knows it, and so should you: don’t eat where you shit.  Parlayed into social media talk, don’t drag unsavory personal life details into your organization’s social media account.  Remember that family, (potential) employer and business associates, and a stone-throwing public can and will access your organization’s profile.  Especially when you’re trying to broaden its visibility.  Promote the best of yourself where you “eat” online.  Embellish, re-imagine, or outright lie if you need to.  Anything’s better than a pile of shit at the e-dinner table.

    7. Lipstick is Not a Good Idea

    If you’ve ever seen a neutered dog with a hard-on, it may be an embarrassing site.  A healthy, rose-tinted shade greets the viewer, shaped in the form of lipstick. Similarly with social media, overt sexuality is a no-no.  In profile pics, bright, skank, or whorish lipstick shades of red, pink, or orange should be avoided.  Also, nothing says loser like unnatural shades such as black, green, or purple.

    Doing social media the canine way is enjoyable, energetic, and engaging.  It will bring you at least a decade or so of warm, social media success.  Just remember, when you have a social media query in head, and you’re staring blankly at the screen, ask yourself What’d Fido Think?  WTF?

    And do it.

    And if you don’t have a dog, adopt one.  Any dog is good.  A rescue dog is better. That adds a few points to your Klout score.  If she’s blind, crippled, or deaf, you’ve hit the jackpot.  And ones deemed feral, vicious, or lethal are the most helpful yet.  In raising and taming your dog, there’ll always be victories and struggles. But the canine force will always embrace you, and in the coming years, you’ll learn all you need to know about social media. 

  • Nov 9 Posted 5 years ago Teresa Meade (not verified)

    In other words; talk or act on whats important or will do some good.  Don't waste your time on superficial stuff?

  • Nov 7 Posted 5 years ago theprverdict (not verified)

    Can someone explain what point seven means - i have read it three times and still don't understand - any help much appreciated.

  • Nov 4 Posted 5 years ago Mel S. (not verified)

    I really liked your article very much and it inspired me to do a simple illustration. I hope you like it :-) 

    Like some others I will link to your post in my blog with a "translated" illustration in German.


    Grandma and social media

  • Nov 4 Posted 5 years ago suzzyzhao (not verified)

    These are very true suggestions about social media management. I like it very much.

  • Nov 3 Posted 5 years ago Jay Pasana (not verified)

    Thank yo for the great post! enlightened too much with this. Already bookmarked this site!

    @EricFulwiler we expect more from you!


  • DavinaKBrewer's picture
    Nov 3 Posted 5 years ago DavinaKBrewer

    Good list of manners, guidelines. I'll add a "be yourself" and "don't rock the boat" as advice from parents, grandparents. I know mine always wanted me to stick with my gut, not given into peer pressure or sacrifice my ideals. In social that means being authentic. They also knew the value of teamwork, that being negative or difficult just for the sake of it wouldn't get me far either. Give to get, helping others and not just promoting ourselves. FWIW.

  • Nov 2 Posted 5 years ago Jason Link

    I agree and am stopping to write some thank you cards now.



  • Jun 6 Posted 6 years ago Phyllis Qualls-... (not verified)

    Great comments on "Mind Your Manners," with social media.  It is so easy to forget that you are on stage when you are keying words in your private space.  However that privacy is world wide. Any urge toward politeness and treating others with respect is always helpful. 

    The web is a stage that we all play on, and on and on.


    Phyllis Qualls-Brooks

  • May 31 Posted 6 years ago @missfitts (not verified)

    Thank you for this simple and sweet post! I teach folks how to use LinkedIn as a business tool, and frequently remind them to add a personal note when reaching out to connect with folks. It makes such a difference to the recepient.

    ~ Sheri

  • May 30 Posted 6 years ago Quita (not verified)

    Well said! As someone raised by her grandmother and who studied public relations, I simply loved the article. Thanks for sharing!

  • ariherzog's picture
    May 9 Posted 7 years ago ariherzog Whoa, you almost nailed it with #8 before I cringed.

    Sometimes all these new gadgets and thingamabobs aren’t as important or effective as we make them out to be. Sometimes a good old fashioned email, phone call, or even in person “get-together” can accomplish things that social media can’t.

    Your grandmother did not experience email (and perhaps, the telephone) until her later years. How many grandparents tell their kids to use email instead of Facebook? I thought you'd evangelize mailing a hand-written and stamped letter, or getting away from your computer and chair and walking to someone's house. Why do you distinguish "even in person" like that, as if seeing someone in the flesh is a monstrosity?

  • May 4 Posted 7 years ago LouisaONeil Thanks for posting this useful reminder.  I remember writing about cell phone etiquette back in the day.....
  • Apr 29 Posted 7 years ago EricFulwiler Thanks to everyone for your input and support. Feel free to use any of these thoughts. Reach out to me anytime, I'm always available.





  • Apr 29 Posted 7 years ago LindaLopez Excellent post. You obviously were paying attention when your grandmother (or someone) imparted these pearls of wisdom. Thanks for reminding us all that good manners never get old.
  • Apr 26 Posted 7 years ago mikemiller1 Thank you for the very good post! It’s high quality. I have been visiting your website for a long time already and it’s the first time I leave a comment. Keep up the excellent job and keep on delivering the best value!I’ve got a lot of big ideas, and I was seconds away from diving in heads first. Thanks for the straight-laced information. This may be worth a go.

  • Apr 25 Posted 7 years ago EricFulwiler Louisa, I completely agree. I believe in social media as a powerful tool for personal and/or professional advancement, but there is certainly a lot of hype surrounding it. Many people, as you said, jump on the bandwagon without understanding how to really make it work for them.


    Thanks for your comments. 

  • Apr 23 Posted 7 years ago LouisaChan Hi Eric,

    These are really great reminders and I will be sending your links out.

    Too many jump onto social media to "get" as many followers as quickly as possible instead of building relationships and giving values. Glad to see grandma's teaching here!

  • Apr 23 Posted 7 years ago AggieVillanueva Thank you, Eric. I just RSS subscribed to your blog. It's really informative. Have the best day ever.
  • Apr 23 Posted 7 years ago EricFulwiler Frank, exactly!!! Thank you!. You obviously completely get it. The potential and reality of social media and online social interaction can be a little overwhelming at first. But once you start to understand the mechanisms and systems that make it work, you realize it's something you already know how to do.


    Thanks for your thoughts. Great stuff.


  • Apr 23 Posted 7 years ago EricFulwiler Of course! Feel free to link to this post, or to my blog. I hope your readers find it valuable. Yes, I think it actually could be an intro to social media to seniors, that's an interesting thought.





  • Apr 23 Posted 7 years ago RobertLonn This is a wonderful post! I hope you don't mind if I follow Aggies example of referring to this in my blog?

    If you turn this around and use your ten insights it would probably be a great introduction to Social Media to "old folks", don't you think?

  • Apr 22 Posted 7 years ago AggieVillanueva This is one of the most sensible posts I've read about social media manners. I plan to link to this when I begin my series on social media. My readers will enjoy your post as much as I did.
  • Apr 22 Posted 7 years ago EricFulwiler Thanks! Glad you liked it.
  • Apr 22 Posted 7 years ago RSEinkS I like your approach on this. Easy to digest and allows people to "get it." Well done.

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