8 Do’s & Don’ts of Direct Messaging On Social Media

Here is one piece I didn’t think I needed to write until a few weeks ago. Although I’ve become wiser over the past year or two, I tend to be pretty open to anybody who wants to follow me on Twitter. I especially like following bloggers, but am always open to others as well. There is one particular non-blogger that I followed back because they seemed like they had themselves together. However, about ten minutes after they followed me, I received a direct message from them explaining all of the places we could go on a date together. While I was very flattered, I was also taken aback. There is nothing on any of my social media that would lead anybody to assume that I am looking to date. I try to keep all of my work pretty professional looking and I believe the presentation shows the world when what I’m really about. Although these things tend to happen a lot on social media, from my perspective, this was one of the most brazen and inappropriate things I’ve ever seen. After that experience, I decided it might be time to write a piece that talks about what I think are the best and worst ways to use direct messaging. I pride myself in “knowing” what the right and wrong etiquette is when it comes to social media, professional settings, etc. I may not have all of the answers, but I think I have the right idea. Here are 4 do’s and don’ts of direct messaging from my point of view.

1. Do Introduce Yourself & Be Open To Others

Several people I’ve met on social media have used the direct message to introduce themselves to me. Some people prefer to do that over more public interactions. This type of introduction tends to happen a lot more on a platform like Linkedin, but also happens on a lesser scale on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. The key here is to be smart. It might be better to compliment them on a blog they wrote or a point they made in a discussion. Talking about shared interests is also a great way to break the ice as well. There is nothing wrong with introducing yourself through a direct message. Just do it with respect. If you’re on the receiving end, be smart and wise. Know what the red flags are, but don’t close yourself off. You never know when a great new friend or business partner will “knock on your door”.

Hi! My name is....

I also want to note that many people have “knocked on my door” in order to receive advice about blogging and social media. Almost all of those people did this in a way that I would consider to be the “right way”. The conversations were mutually beneficial for both parties, they expressed interest in what I do, and asked me for advice. Most of these people have become pretty good friends of mine on social media as well. If you notice that another person is doing something well, don’t ever hesitate to ask them for insight. I find that most people (including yours truly) loves this type of conversation.

2. Don’t Use Social Media To Find Love

As I mentioned in the intro, this is a bad way to use social media. This piece probably won’t stop those who do this, but you can’t use platforms like Twitter or Instagram to find love. It certainly can’t be your number one goal. I see way too many people using social media in order to fill this void in their lives. The truth is, there are more people on social media who are there for business purposes than those who are looking to find love. I’ve found that a lot of people choose to not look at the signs that are right in front of them. If you see that somebody has links to their blogs, talk about their business, etc. in their profile bio, then you might want to think twice about facing that kind of rejection. I often see more complaints about these messages than I see people getting excited about it. I’ve come to find that most people on social media aren’t looking for random people to flirt with them. Err on the side of caution on this one.

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3. Do Promote Your Product Or Business

Social Media can be an amazing tool if you know what you want to do with it. While there are plenty of people out there who simply use it for fun, there are those who have unlocked the potential within and have started using it to promote their business. Personally, I use it to promote this blog as well as my other content creation endeavors. It’s proven to be a life changing experience. While I don’t use direct messaging to promote anything I do, I know there are quite a few people who do. The key is to not overdo it. Simply sending an auto message when the person first follows you is good enough. Explain what you’re business is about. Include links and other pertinent information. After that, allow the user to decide if they’d like to take it any further.

4. Don’t Continuously Spam Others

Spam is a “bad” word for a reason. Nobody likes to be bothered about products or services they’re not interested in. Much like the previous point, it’s ok to send an introductory message that explains what your business does. However, after one message, leave it alone. Don’t continue to send offers they don’t want. Thankfully, I haven’t seen too much of this in my time on social media, but it is best to avoid doing this. Your audience will find you over the course of time. However, they will run away if you choose to keep spamming them with information they don’t want.

5. Do Be Polite & Respect Others Space

You could argue that this lines up with some of my other points, but it must be said that users of social media need to strike a balance. Don’t direct message somebody just to harass them about something they might have said in the open. Also, don’t expect people to always be available. Many of us live busy lives. We don’t always have the time to drop what we’re doing in order to respond to a direct message. It’s also good to know when to end a conversation so that the other person can carry on with their day. Basically, this is all about using good judgement and respect towards others. That is the key!

6. Don’t Badger People Who Don’t Want To Chat

I’m usually very open to chatting it up with people. I enjoy meeting new people through social media. It’s one of my favorite things about social media (and hopefully yours too!). However, there are times when people take their conversations way too far. Recently, I thought I was simply responding to a question a person had about my writing career. However, that turned into a 5 hour conversation. A conversation that just kind of dragged on throughout my day. Although the person on the other end was very nice, I found this to be a little over the top. Lengthy conversations like this are great once you get to know somebody, but doing this right up front might send the wrong message. Consider the other person’s time when you are chatting it up with them.

Err On The Side Of Caution When First Talking to People Or They May Feel Like You Are

7. Do Use DM’s To Do Business With Others

Over the past year I have created some business for myself through direct messaging. In my opinion, when two people share the same interest and can mutually help each other, this can be an extremely effective way to use direct messaging. I have picked up Instagram sponsorships and a speaking opportunity thanks to direct messaging. The one thing these people all had in common was that they knew we could mutually help each other and they went about it in a professional way. When you’re running a business and you see the potential another person has, be smart and make contact with them.

8. Don’t Use it As An Opportunity To Deceive

This is one of the worst ways to use social media. There comes a point where you start to learn what somebodies game is. You see the same pictures, but with different names attached to them. They use the same methods over and over in order to get what they want. You might think you’re fooling nobody, but there are some who are smart enough to see the patterns. A few bloggers within my “tribe” have talked about this. After awhile, it is easy to spot who these people are. There is no point to using an alternate ego over and over again. Especially when you do it to the same people. The best thing to do is to just be yourself and show the same kind of respect you would want in return. Deceiving others with fake names and ulterior motives won’t get you very far.

I Hope You Already Knew All Of This

My biggest hope is that most people who read this piece already know a lot of these points. However, if you have ever done any of the “don’ts” on this list, please take heed of what I’m saying here. While there might be some people out there who will be ok with what you’re doing, I can assure you that there are many people out there who will be taken aback. It’s always best to err a little more on the side of caution when dealing with social media. Even though we are all behind a screen, that doesn’t necessarily make social media less real. We are all real people living real lives. Not all of us are looking for a virtual fantasy. Many of us are using these platforms for noble purposes. This needs to be kept in mind. We all have our own boundaries, values, morals, and codes that we live by. It’s best to be sure of who you are talking to and what they stand for before going any further.

I know some of this paints a negative picture of direct messaging on social media, but I hope that it presents some positives too. Direct messaging can lead to really great things. I know it has for me. I’ve made a lot of new friends due to it and I hope to continue that trend in the future. My advice is to just be wise and learn the red flags that are out there. When you come onto social media with the right attitude and intentions, it can produce some awesome things for you and your career. If you don’t, it more than likely won’t get you too far. A lot of us see right through some of the trends and game playing that occurs. If you’re looking for better things out of life, then you’re probably better off doing things like direct messaging with noble intentions.

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