To Post or Not to Post | Harris School of Business
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To Post or Not to Post

Category(ies): Student Life

Social media etiquette for students

Social media etiquette you’ll be glad you followed

Have you ever posted a photo on social media and instantly regretted it? Have you ever written an angry rant, and wished you hadn’t posted it? Do you let your emotions get the better of you when responding to other people’s posts?

Handling social media accounts is not an easy thing! You can get caught up in the moment and forget to think before posting, and the next thing you know, you’ve gotten yourself into an embarrassing situation.

Here are some tips for avoiding this. All it takes is slowing down a little and really asking yourself whether to post it or not.

Questions to ask yourself

Before posting anything, take some time to consider what the fallout could be from your post. Try asking yourself these questions before posting anything:

  • Will anyone care about this post other than me?
  • Will this post offend anyone? Would I be comfortable saying this to someone in person?
  • Would there be a better way to do this than posting it? (e.g, a private message to someone)
  • Am I overposting? How many posts have I already done today?
  • Am I over promoting myself? Do I only ever talk about myself?
  • What if my grandmother or employer saw this? Would I be okay with that?
  • Is all the spelling correct?
  • Am I just venting? Would it be better to wait until I cool down?

Other etiquette to follow

Social media doesn’t come with a rulebook. People muddle through as new communications technologies hit the market, and sometimes they make mistakes that they regret. Here is some basic etiquette to follow:

Think of others’ feelings—Always be kind. Don’t use social media to put others down or make others feel bad. It may feel easy to do when you’re sitting behind the safety of your screen, but words and images can really hurt!

Careful when posting photos of others Have you ever had a friend post a group photo, and you see that your eyes are closed or that your expression looks bad? When posting photos of friends, it’s best to ask them first. Make sure you choose photos that are flattering to everyone.

Don’t gossip or reveal secrets Watch what you reveal about your friends and family. They may be waiting to reveal something—like an engagement or a baby on the way. Don’t ruin the surprise by posting it before they can.

Be supportive of others Social media is meant to be a positive social experience. Rather than just posting about yourself, make sure you boost up others too. “Like” their posts, write encouraging comments, and compliment people on their accomplishments.

Contribute constructive content Social media is made up of the contributions of everyone on your network. By contributing to the content—by posting articles, making thoughtful comments, sharing your questions—you make it a better place.

Watch your language A little cursing isn’t the end of the world, but in general, it’s better to play it safe and keep your language clean.

Don’t use all caps Using all capital letters makes it feel like you’re shouting, even if you don’t intend it that way. Try to avoid all caps.

Remember your digital footprint Keep in mind that everything you post is contributing to an overall digital footprint that follows you throughout your life. That’s why it’s important to show the best version of yourself! Cut the party photos, and keep it clean! For more on cleaning up your digital footprint, try 5 Steps for Cleaning Up Your Social Media.

Don’t forget your social life in the real world Social media is a great addition to our social lives, but don’t forget your real social life. Meet with friends face-to-face and share real life experiences that will create lasting memories!

We hope these tips help you get a handle on the ways that social media can help you (and not harm you). Social media is a great tool for so many things—social, educational, promotional, and the list goes on. With a little caution and care, you can make the most out of it!


The Harris School of Business provides our students with career tips, lifestyle advice, and health-related posts on our weekly blog. Find out more about starting a new career path at the Harris School!