A faux pas is a violation of accepted social norms. Although these norms can vary wildly from one culture to another, their basic premise is “be respectful of others”.
The first time I had dinner with my then future mother-in-law, I committed a dinner etiquette faux pas (elbow on table if you must know). She didn’t say a word but her eyes and look communicated volumes. It’s a scene I’ll never forget. Luckily, in time, I was able to redeem myself and the transgression was quickly forgotten.
Best to be on your best behavior
In today’s connected world, you virtual actions are documented and magnified. A faux pas can be greatly amplified and spiral out of control. Given the immediacy and reach of social media, having basic rules of thumb around social media do’s and don’ts is more than a good idea. You should know and follow your company conduct guidelines. Social Media is an extension of these guidelines.
- Use your best judgment. If you aren’t sure whether what you are about to post is appropriate, review it carefully and question what you’ve written with an objective mind. (I like to think of my mother-in-law in this case. I ask myself: would she approve?)
- Respect your audience
- Respect copyright, fair use and disclosure laws
- Engage and contribute
Find numerous social media code of conduct examples here via Chris Boudreaux of SocialMediaGovernance.com
Sometimes it’s easier to learn from the mistakes of others. Following is a social media “best of” faux pas compilation. I invite you to add to this #oops list.
A must see slide presentation by 22 Squared. It offers case studies on some of the biggest social media catastrophes in recent years.
A Top 10 Social Media Blunders list that is both entertaining and disheartening.
- Weinergate : why flashing online is not a good idea
- Dissing Detroit Drivers : @ChryslerAutos drops the F-bomb
- Kenneth Cole Puts Shoe In Mouth : sarcasm often leads to controversy
- Gottfried Gets The Hook : jokes in incredibly bad taste
- Quantas Grounds Dreams : unhappy union workers hijack #QantasLuxury
- Shooting An Elephant : GoDaddy exec tweets a link to a video of himself shooting an elephant in Zimbabwe
- Netflixs : forgets to obtain @Quikster Twitter handle
- Kutcher Has Paterno’s Back : Ashton Kutcher goes off the rails
- Micky’s Big Mouth : not playing by the rules can be costly
- Ragu Incites Backlash : Dads fight back
Top 12 Social Media Blunders of 2011 via Inc.
Inc’s and Advertising Age share some of the same nominees. Inc’s other five blunder candidates are:
- @WhatsTrending : webshow dies following falsely tweeting of Steve Jobs passing while he was still living
- Newt Gingrich : buying fake followers doesn’t pay off
- Facebook : Zuckerberg learns that Facebook isn’t private
- Cain : presidential campaign video gone viral
- Lowe’s : learns the importance of monitoring its social media accounts … even on the weekends
2012 Faux Pas Candidates might include some of the following:
Olympics-Social media ban imposed on gun-slinging swimmers – by Reuters on Yahoo!Sports
How following Mad Men backfired for the real Jaguar – by Ivor Tossell via The Globe and Mail
Think Sexism Is Dead? Read This Tech Company’s Tweet – by Bianca Bosker via The Huffington Post
- ASUS’ ‘Rear’ Tweet Puts Sexism Front And Center : be careful how and what you tweet from the official company account.
McDonald’s not lovin’ out of control hashtag campaign – by Matt Brownell via The Globe and Mail
How Susan G. Komen For The Cure Torpedoed Its Brand – by Laurel Sutton via FastCompany