Social media etiquette

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How Should You Handle a Partner’s Facebook Friend Request?

Ding. It’s a friend request. You’re so popular. One problem. It’s from one of your engagement partners. Awkward. Now you have a dilemma. Are you obligated to say yes? Or, maybe, you let it sit in the unanswered request pile for eternity and pretend you never saw it. Weigh the options careful and may the […]

Robert Half Offers New Rules for the Digital Age

Some business etiquette rules in this day and age are common sense (which we hope most of you have at least a little of): tweet as if your boss is watching, don’t threaten to stab your senior on Facebook (especially if said senior is in your friends list), and don’t leave a miserable trail of bad behavior behind on your company laptop when you leave the company.

For everything else that isn’t so clear, Robert Half offers Business Etiquette: The New Rules in a Digital Age, tips and tricks for polishing up your online persona. Here are a few sticky etiquette questions and answers to whet your palate:

Can Facebook postings hurt my job search?

A good rule of thumb is to always post prudently: If you don’t want your employer to see it, get rid of it. A recent survey by our firm revealed that 44 percent of executives review the Facebook presence of potential hires. Even if your account is just for fun, keep it in check. To put your Facebook on a privacy lockdown, click on the drop-down “Account” menu in the top right corner and select “Privacy Settings.” Keep in mind that Facebook may change its privacy features at any time, and you might not be aware of the changes when they occur. Always assume that anything you post online may become public.

Should I friend my boss or coworkers?

This is the $64,000 question, and the feelings of those on the receiving end may provide the answer. (See “Thinking About ‘Friending’ Your Boss on Facebook?” on Page 10 of Business Etiquette: The New Rules in a Digital Age.) If you do connect, utilize privacy settings and different friend lists to control how — and with whom — you share content. Be sensitive to your professional environment: some industries or companies are much more engaged in digital networking than others. If you’re starting a new job, take your cue from others before sending out “friend” requests to your new colleagues.

How responsive should I be to e-mail when I’m on vacation?

It depends on whether you want to have a real vacation. If your “Out of Office” says you’re not checking e-mail on vacation, don’t check and respond to messages. Doing so changes expectations and implies you’re more accessible than you said you’d be. Instead, be considerate to others’ needs while you are out and list a back-up contact in your Out of Office auto response.

We especially like that last one. Remember, being professional isn’t the same as being a bitch, and you are allowed to set reasonable boundaries without giving your partners a stroke while they fume over those damn incorrigible Gen Y kids taking over the office. And if anyone tells you differently, you send them our way and we’ll set them straight.

You can download Business Etiquette: The New Rules in a Digital Age via Robert Half.

Doing It Wrong Twitter Case Study: The Narcissist

Following our previous Doing It Wrong case studies featuring the over-hashtagging accounting firm, the excited newbie and the hyperconnected crack tweeter, we humbly present you a criticism of one of our least favorite Twitter users: the self-absorbed narcissist.


You can spot the narcissist from a mile away by looking for keywords such as “I”, “me” and “myself.” The narcissist doesn’t really try to make it appear as though they are interested in others nor do they tend to share useful information, only their own personal triumphs, opinions, activities and musings. To the self-absorbed narcissist, this is really all that matters.

The self-absorbed narcissist is pretty easy to seduce into doing your bidding by expressing even the smallest amount of interest in their indulgent self-congratulations. This can be accomplished by retweeting their latest announcement (retweeting an announcement with lots of “me” and “my” statements will earn you bonus points in the eyes of the narcissist) and doing so might even get you a retweet yourself.

The narcissist may collect followers like nerds collect World of Warcraft gold and, if excessively narcissistic, will likely follow only 1 or 2 people to prove just how awesome and appreciated they are. To the narcissist, this is a sign of their importance and status in the Twitter community, as who needs communication when you have awesome credentials and incredible talent?

How can you avoid becoming the narcissist? Interact! Congratulate others, encourage your cohorts and share useful links that aren’t just things you’ve written or appearances you’ve made in the media.

Doing It Wrong Twitter Case Study: The Hyper-Connected Crack Tweeter

Chances are you know the Hyper-Connected Crack Tweeter and worse, you could possibly be him or her. Tell-tale signs of hyper-connected crack tweeting include constant RTing, endless strings of @s (sometimes to no one in particular) and a nuclear follow cost. If you are unsure of your follow cost, feel free to check here and if you come up nuclear, it may be time to talk about your Twitter habits.


Remember, value is in the eye of the beholder. While it may seem reasonable to the hyper-connected crack tweeter to send out a constant stream of “Thanks for the RT!” notes and 75 #FollowFriday recommendations beginning on Thursday night, if many in your stream are following 100 people or less, you’re basically just cluttering up other folks’ streams and adding very little value while doing so. Because we’re specifically speaking about accounting here, it’s important to point out that many in the profession are new (or newer) to Twitter and therefore likely to be following just a small handful of people. Point being, if you aren’t adding value you’re pretty much just being obnoxious.

Our recommendation is always to look at what others in the profession are doing to get an idea of what is appropriate use of Twitter. We’ve already recommended checking out those on Michelle Golden’s Accounting Awesomeness list for starters but would also point out specific tweeters like MACPA’s Tom Hood, next gen CPA rockstar Jason Blumer and exuberant Scott Heintzelman. What do these people have in common? They all know the importance of interaction without overkill, sharing just enough of their personal views and goings on mixed in with updates on the profession that keep followers informed and engaged. Now that is doing it right.

The hyper-connected crack tweeter makes the mistake of thinking more is better so even more must be even better. Twitter is not a popularity contest and having the most followers does you little good unless you can somehow convert multi-level marketers and pornbots into clients. Since that’s unlikely, the best thing the hyper-connected crack tweeter can do is take a look at why they are tweeting so much and what value they are offering to the Twitter community as a whole.

True value comes from both the connections and the service provided between those connections. For some, hearing what you had for breakfast is an endearing way to feel closer to strangers thousands of miles away who share the same interests and so a bit of that is allowed (keeps people from thinking you’re a tax-obsessed robot without a soul, right?) but sending out 25 #FollowFriday tweets in rapid succession is really just a cry for help and a sign that you need a primer in how to pack the most punch into your tweets without cluttering others’ streams with your nonsense.

Remember people, moderation. I know it’s exciting and it’s tempting to overdo it but let’s all remember that we have a tradition to uphold for the sake of the whole industry and that’s one of calm, collected and not at all easily excited cool.

How Not to Get Unfollowed on Twitter

The last time I attempted a “How Not to Be a Total Asshat on the Internet” public service message in this arena, I was torn apart for being too harsh so I’ll leave out the specifics and stick to the suggestions. You know who you are.

Keep in mind that what works for some doesn’t work for others and vice versa; we’re specifically talking about how to fit in with the accounting crew, not alienating clients, not come off as too spammy and/or maintain a reasonable professional profile using your Twitter account as a point of contact to your brand. All of you are more than welcome to do whatever you want with your Twitter accounts, the following is meant for professionals or brands.


Actually interact – No one is suggesting you follow every person who follows you or go on some mass following spree to artificially inflate your Internet popularity for appearance’s sake but a good balance of @s with following shows some level of interaction. A lot of firms miss this one and organizations can make the mistake of focusing strictly on their own message and ignoring what others are saying. Don’t do that, jump in and say something.

If the thought ever crosses my mind that you might be a robot, you’re probably not doing it right – You know the one; they have the same not-quite-normal headshot as their avatar and profile shot for every hot social media service available and not a single candid pic of this person “in action.” We don’t suggest drunken Facebook shots to remedy this but it would be nice to confirm that the person behind the account is, in fact, a person with a tweet that doesn’t seem prefabricated or a picture that deviates from the Headshot Series 1. When it’s a little too perfect, it appears suspect. People are less likely to enjoy your message if they are too busy wondering whether or not you’re a machine when reading it.

There is a such thing as TMII’m guilty of this one and it’s because I’m really not trying to masquerade as a total professional. Nor am I representing my company when I’m out there tweeting about the crackheads hitting on me at the gas station or meter maids terrorizing me with parking tickets. For some, interacting goes too far and gets way too personal. If you are attempting to represent or have at all associated yourself with your company, be aware that there is still a such thing as privacy. Even if you are only followed by a handful of people, your tweets reach the entire Internet.

RTs and FFs – And please for the love of Bob Herz don’t thank everyone for every RT, nor be the “all day #FF” guy. If you’re spending half your Friday #FFing everyone, you’re A) making unnecessary noise and B) diluting the value you add by suggesting helpful people to follow. Stick to a handful if you’re going to do it all instead of spewing out half your following list.

Oh and auto DMs? They were never really cool and to me they say that you’re too busy to actually say anything to me and inconsiderate of how cluttered my inbox can get. Sorry if this offends anyone who is in love with their own “brilliant” auto DM but I see them as obnoxious. Add to the conversation, not the noise.