Internet-based social networking is often being riled at for overcrowding the hallowed space of mass communication. However, the impact of social networks on almost all spheres of human interaction is beyond dispute.

Social media networks have become an integral part of everyday life to a point that it’s essential to know how to conduct yourself across various platforms. Engaging with a wider audience on the social networking platforms requires a basic awareness of the etiquette — the lack of which could adversely affect your organisation’s or personal brand. Here is how you have to interact in the digital environment where the dynamics of communication is interpersonal:

The content/topic of your conversation sets the tone of your engagement with your potential audience across the social media platforms. It should be meaningful and consequential. If the content/topic is shallow, you convey a sense of triviality and superficiality. Engaging conversations require appealing topics.

Nothing can undermine your personal brand more than an impression of being a “talker” rather than a “listener.” Always provide sufficient time and space for others to engage you.

One of the fundamental changes brought about by social networks is the way we communicate. Brevity and simplicity can do wonders in engaging and influencing your audience. Be to-the-point without frills.

Time is of the essence in social media communication. Your audiences’ time is as precious as yours. Boil down the facts into simple messages and deliver it instantly in a convincing manner. Don’t delay your responses.

Being polite and honest about yourself and your objectives help you establish an instant rapport with the target audience. It’s also paramount that you are seen to be polite and upfront.

Social media networks have opened up human interaction in such a way that almost everything in our personal sphere is visible in the public sphere. Promoting others by sharing their views or opinions through yourself is an excellent way to establish and widen your network.

Taking initiative is a sign of an interesting personality. Don’t hesitate to set off interesting conversations across the platforms.

Look out for

Monologue: A social engagement or conversation requires two equal and willing participants. If you are a natural conversationalist, you are most likely to get carried away by what you are saying and over-engage your audience. It’s imperative that you make sure that you are not exploiting the platform to push your own brand.

Being pushy: Don’t tell your audience that you have the answer to everything under the sun. It’s important to maintain the tone of your conversation at an equal level.

Pulpit syndrome: Once you engage an audience, don’t take their patience as a willing subjugation and start preaching. Always remember a good conversation is a two-way process involving two or more interested participants. The role of the audience has changed from that of passive receivers or consumers to active participants.

Digital chaos: You are bombarded with unsolicited and unsubstantiated information and content from a million social media networks. You need to be on the guard about the veracity of the content before sharing it with others.

The author is associate professor at Asian College of Journalism, Chennai

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The digital connectOctober 29, 2012