Are You the Jerk At The Party? Watch Your “Webonality.”

Est. Reading Time: 6 minutes


A Word on Social Media Conduct and Caution


If Facebook were a country, it would be the fourth largest in the world with a population of over 300 million users, and is the fastest growing demographic for the over 35 crowd. LinkedIn, at 7.7 million joiners a month, or a new person joining every second, is exploding with the economic downturn and business people looking to connect. Whether you are a savvy networker, senior executive, late adopter (from that pressure from pesky friends) or just exploring your options (6.1 million are perusers) it’s time to be aware of some rules and warnings.

With this level of exposure, and the potential for each of us who jump on the social media band wagon, we cannot get too comfortable behind the safety of our keyboards. There is a certain decorum and mindfulness we should follow; just as if we were meeting new people at a party.

(Well, in this case, one really big cocktail party with a few jerks who crash it.)

Although studies show that most people connect with those they already know, the web is still a place to be mindful of our personal and company reputation. There are strategies to apply in order to be seen as a connection of value to the communities you deal with. There are also rules of etiquette to follow in order to reap the benefits derived from the many hours we spent building our networks. Think of this as your social media R.O.I (Return on investment.)

Do Your Homework

Before you sign up for anything, listen. Go to the popular sites and read others posts, articles, comments, tweets ( and profiles. It will quickly be glaringly obvious between the “polished and the poor.” Below are the basic “webonalities,” annoyances and suggestions to give you good game once you decide which groups you are going to connect and build with.

The Snip: Some personalities can be completely misunderstood in the digital format, sounding curt and impatient. (I mean how many smiley faces can we add anyway?) Also, avoid the one line emails. Use a greeting and always sign off.


Mr. No introduction: Would you just start dumping your information into a person you just met face-to-face without introducing yourself? Talk and promote yourself without regard for those around you? Ask for favors? We have all met one of these and it’s no fun. Don’t be that person.

The Mute: Comment back to people who leave comments for you. Would you stand there ignoring someone who was talking to you in the company break room?

The One Side Guy: Explore other people’s blogs, posts, articles, who explore yours.  Take an interest in others and who knows – you might just learn something or connect with a new friend. Promote yourself, but help promote others too. This is the 60/40 rule. Mix it up. Don’t have time?  then do a quick click. If it looks interesting bookmark it for later.

Check Me Out: No one wants to see a photo of you kneeling with a beer, your dog and your shirt off. Ever. Google images will find these. They will not go away. Post with your reputation in mind.


The Free Info Sucker: This is my personal biggest pet- peeve. People who ask for “advice” (AKA – free consulting on how to do exactly what you do) and somewhere in your snake brain you give them a nugget and you never hear back. A week later they have all your “advice” on their website. It is OK to help others with recommendations and support, or even give some secrets away – but be careful.

The Slick Spammer – Don’t disguise your spam as an email saying “I think we have some “synergies” – please let me know the best time to call you.”  Don’t be sneaky – tell people what you’re intentions are. Also, don’t post simply “great post” in someone’s comment box and then add 1000 random links hoping for search optimization.

The Rager – There are always one of these on a comment stream, the angry guy with a huge chip on his shoulder looking for a fight. If you don’t like the direction of a chat, either be constructive or walk away. Don’t write terrible things on someone’s Facebook wall for all 45, 098 of their “friends” to see, then block them either. Send a private note or cool off.

The User: If you are blogging or posting about someone else, email them asking if it is OK, and tell where they will be featured and add a link to their site. Also, if you like an article you read, it only takes a split second to click an icon and send it on. Use StumbleUpon, Delicious, Google Reader Shared Items, or Friendfeed, to name a few. This is when re-gifting is nice.

Anonymous Shy Guy: Use an avatar or picture. It lets people know you’re perhaps human.

The Hipster: Even though you may understand that social media is valuable because it’s genuine and spontaneous, be mindful of older generations. My “over 60” friend blames her age and says people of her generation are not familiar or necessarily comfortable engaging in online fragmented discussions.

The Micro: Do not email like you are texting. No one wants to see “C U 2NT” in an email. Different environments equal different actions. This is akin to pulling out an egg salad sandwich on an airplane. You are not in the kitchen. They sort of have one, but it is not yours.

The Foreword Guy: How did those emails I sent to my ex end up in my entire friends and family’s in box? I rest my case.

One word; be careful.





  1. Posted November 30, 2009 at 9:11 am | Permalink


    Thank you for spelling out the do’s and don’ts in this article. When switching between different media it pays to understand that what is acceptable in one format isn’t the way to communicate in another.
    In sending you this comment, I hope I haven’t crossed the line in webonalities and am guilty of any of the transgressions you mention.
    Wishing you the best this holiday season.


  2. Francey Nathan
    Posted November 30, 2009 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    Excellent advice, all the way around. Thank you!

  3. Posted November 30, 2009 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Great article Lisa. I love the nicknames! With the popularity of social media spreading to the masses, its very helpful to give some etiquette guidelines for others to follow. I’ve run into “The Rager” myself and it amazes me that people will take the time to engage with negativity! The key takeaway is just “THINK” before you respond! Best of luck to you.

  4. Posted November 30, 2009 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Great article! I’ve been growing my social media presence slowly and intentionally. This article is quite helpful! I’m sure I’m guilty of some of these things to a certain extent… and some of my pet peeves are on here, too (The Micro, especially).

  5. Posted November 30, 2009 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Hi Lisa,

    Great post…I think I have come across each and every one of these people! And have been guilty of at least one of them! Since then though, I have been mindful and -careful- to not “hide behind my keyboard.”

    Great reminder…thank you!

    Belize Bob

  6. Posted November 30, 2009 at 8:24 pm | Permalink


    Great article! You pinpointed some great categories. Many are peeves of mine as well and I’m sure I’ve committed a few infractions myself. I know I have to watch being the Mr. No Introduction.

    It seems to me it’s all about keeping it “human” in this age of cyber relationships. People seem to forget that there really is a person on the other end.

  7. Bobby Leedy
    Posted November 30, 2009 at 8:33 pm | Permalink


    Very interesting article. You are a very prolific writer of interesting articles/thought pieces. My suggestion is to go after a young audience with this type of advice (possibly a “Dear Lisa” column). After watching my kids and their friends post pictures and writings on their social accounts it is obvious that they do not see that these things are sure to come back and haunt them in the future. As my mother used to say, “if you would not say it or show it to your preacher, then keep it to yourself”.

    Bobby Leedy

  8. Carol Kenny
    Posted December 1, 2009 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Dear Lisa, Thank you for this article. You shared lots of good advice. I promise not to be a jerk, online or anytime. I prefer cocktail parties where cocktails are served, but it is wonderful to be able to connect with people online, and it’s important that all web chatters follow your guidelines.

  9. Archana Bharathan
    Posted December 1, 2009 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    Hilarious and dead-on.


  10. Posted December 2, 2009 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    Hi Lisa!
    Great advice. I especially agree about avoiding 1-liner emails (unless it’s a quick back and forth on an already started conversation), salutations and sign-offs, and watching what pictures and other past postings end up where. I still find guitar chords I posted to compuserve a million years ago. Be careful and always think twice, especially if you’re in a hurry or upset.

  11. Posted December 4, 2009 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Hi Lisa,
    Thoroughly enjoyed the post. We’ve all run across the “personalities” that you have so aptly characterized here. I had a good laugh at a few, and thought, what could have prompted you to write this? LOL
    Hopefully, this will serve to illuminate the minds of the the characters listed here, but a few sessions of therapy may be the answer for some. Which leads me to your closing comment – “be careful”. You are so right !

  12. Posted December 5, 2009 at 2:40 pm | Permalink


    Thanks for the interesting article!

    BTW, do you allow republishing of your content? I think this would be perfect for the readers of WE Magazine for Women

    Check it out and let me know your thoughts. If you have a similar article you would prefer to submit, that too would be great!

    Look forward to hearing from you.

    Heidi Richards Mooney, Publisher
    We Magazine for Women.

    btw, found your post via LinkedIn!