Posted: Aug 12, 2014 9:00 AM
 
In an age when everything can be posted to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more, should it be? Savvy moms share their social media rules — what to post where and when, and what social media blunders to (definitely) avoid.
Photo credit: JGI/Tom Gril/Blend Images/Getty Images

Social media etiquette can be finicky, but there are reasons why we do what we do online. Liz Jostes is an online marketing consultant and the co-founder of Eli Rose Social Media, LLC. Jostes is in the business of helping people maneuver social media. And, for today, she's in the business of helping us maneuver our own social media rules. Should you post this but not that? Savvy moms answer this question by sharing their important social media rules and Jostes explains why we follow them.

Estelle Erasmus

Estelle Erasmus

social media rule^

Don't post rants about your family, friends or employers.

Estelle Erasmus blogs about her transformative journey from former magazine editor to midlife mom to her 5-year-old daughter on her personal blog, Musings on Motherhood & Midlife. Erasmus says, "I don't post any rants about my husband, daughter, immediate family, employers or friends. That's because I know the 'vents' of today are the memories of tomorrow, but if you put that energy out there it stays on the internet forever, tarnishing your present-day relationships."

What the experts say^

No matter how selective you may feel you've been about accepting friend requests or organizing your friends into special groups to post to, there is simply no way to guarantee that the person you are ranting about won't end up hearing or reading about your Facebook rant.

Photo credit: Estelle Erasmus

Kim Simon

Kim Simon

social media rule^

Be thoughtful in your posting. Take the time to think through the weight your words and pictures will carry.

Kim Simon can be found telling the truth about motherhood on her personal blog Mama By The Bay. Simon says, "Before you post, stop and think. There's always time to make sure that you're sharing your thoughts with tact and grace. I try not to post anything without first asking myself, 'Is it kind? Is it helpful? Could it be misconstrued? Is it safe?' This means that I force myself to really read things through the lens of an opposing perspective before I post. When we share our lives online, we have the potential to cause great harm to others if we're not gentle and thoughtful in how we tell our stories. It's OK to stop and think about what we share, how much we share and whose stories we are allowed to tell. Social media happens in real-time, but there's always time to take a breath and think about the weight that your words and pictures will carry."

What the experts say^

Probably the biggest challenge involved with communicating online is that you — and those reading your words — are limited to just words on a screen; there are no cues such as tone of voice, facial expressions or body language to help convey your message. If anything you are prepared to post could be misinterpreted, think twice before publishing it.

Photo credit: Richelle Wetzel

Cheryl Suchors

Cheryl Suchors

social media rule^

Take the time to get offline and connect in person.

Cheryl Suchors is a writer who hikes and a hiker who writes with a book coming out at the end of 2014 called, 48 Mountains. Suchors says, "Never confuse yourself by thinking conversing on social media is the same as having a relationship. Friendships are precious and require face time to build and maintain."

What the experts say^

Social media provides some pretty fantastic ways to network and communicate with others, but there is no substitute for a face-to-face meeting or a phone call to take that established relationship to a deeper level.

Photo credit: Michael Benabib

Bethany Thies

Bethany Thies

social media rule^

Be authentic and real. Show your faults.

Bethany Thies describes herself as that mom with the screaming kids. She blogs it all at Bad Parenting Moments. Thies says, "You can never be too human. Sharing what scares you connects you."

What the experts say^

Social media is meant to be a reflection of you and your offline life. If you have a personal triumph, celebrate it. And if you're having a tough day or receive some unfortunate news, your friends can lift your spirits.

Photo credit: Bethany Thies

Victoria Fedden

Victoria Fedden

social media rule^

Stay positive. Avoid complaining, ranting and arguing.

Victoria Fedden is a mom and the author of the memoir, Amateur Night at the Bubblegum Kittikat, who blogs at Wide Lawns and Narrow Minds. Fedden says, "Always post the positive! Since I joined Facebook in 2008, I've vowed to use it as a tool for spreading joy, encouragement, happy thoughts and pictures, fun ideas and a few delicious recipes. I keep out my daily frustrations large and small unless they're particularly funny, and I avoid complaining, ranting and arguing."

What the experts say^

While it might seem to contradict "be authentic and real," there is a limit to how many negative updates your friends may want to read before they consider unfollowing you. If you find that most of your posted updates are complaints about day-to-day aggravations or poor customer experiences, you may reconsider why and how you use these platforms.

Photo credit: Victoria Fedden

Lindsey Mead

social media rule^

Tread lightly when you share your children's stories. Think how they would feel if they saw your post (at any age) and remember that their story is theirs to tell.Lindsey Mead

Lindsey Mead blogs about parenting, life and paying attention to what's right in front of us at A Design So Vast. Mead says, "I always ask myself how I would feel if my children saw something I share on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Increasingly, they do see it, and as they get older I'm ever more conscious that their stories are their own — and not mine — and I tread lightly. I also never forget that the internet is a public — and permanent — forum and this guides what I share as well."

What the experts say^

Kids are people, too. Consider whether you'd post to social media that another adult was getting on your nerves or did something terribly embarrassing. If the answer is "no," then it's likely you shouldn't post the same type of thing to social media about your kids.

Photo credit: Lindsey Mead

Alexandra Rosas

Alexandra Rosas

social media rule^

Think hard about what and why you want to post something. Find out about the entire issue before knee-jerking an opinion. And if you offend, apologize.

Alexandra Rosas contributes to several websites and her writing has been in various anthologies. You can follow her on her personal blog, Good Day, Regular People. Rosas says, "The adage 'the internet is forever and that means screen shots' is real. If you say something and then delete it, someone may still have grabbed it. Think hard about what and why you want to say or post something. Find out about the entire issue before knee-jerking an opinion, and if you do blunder, apologize. Some may forgive you, others may forgive but also — dependent on how deep the wound or close to home — may be done with you. The internet world is a small, interconnected one. What you do online, can become larger than life. As dire as that sounds, many of us have survived social blunders. You will, too, and be hopefully humbled, smarter and with a lesson learned."

What the experts say^

Social media and breaking news both move very fast. Also, scintillating headlines garner more page views. Performing your own reading and research on an issue or news story before posting or sharing will keep you from having to back track or ending up with egg on your face.

Photo credit: Alexandra Rosas

Sherri Kuhn

Sherri Kuhn

social media rule^

Really think about your online fundraising. Would you ask all these people for money for this purpose in person?

Sherri Kuhn is a writer, mother of two teenagers and a lover of all things social media. Kuhn says, "I personally have a hard time with asking for donations and other types of fundraising online, especially since I spend so much of my work life on social media. With hundreds of 'friends' who I only know in the online community, I feel that I am asked to donate to one cause or another on a daily basis. Many of these I simply can't donate to, but if a cause speaks to me I am happy to donate. I do feel that it's getting a bit crazy, though. I saw a GoFundMe page in my feed for money to cover a trip to a soccer tournament and felt this was a bit much."

What the experts say^

My rule of thumb is to always ask myself, "Would I ask this of this person if I was face-to-face with them?"

Photo credit: Willis Cho

Andrea Mowery

Andrea Mowery

social media rule^

Speak kindly about your partner online. Ask for permission before you post something about her or him.

Andrea Mowery is the sometimes humorous, sometimes heartfelt and always real writer who punctuates life and parenting topics with her own personal mishaps and deadpan observations on her blog, About 100%. Mowery says, "When writing about my marriage, I stick to my perspective — it's the only way to get the story right every time. I don't accuse or complain or make fun in a mean way, either — there's enough of that going on in social media already. If it's a touchy subject between us, I'll ask my husband if he's OK with my writing about it, and more often than not, he's thrilled to be featured in my posts — even if I do pick on him a little. Openness and communication are key in a marriage, and that extends to writing about it on the internet."

What the experts say^

It's helpful to have a quick discussion with your partner about what is and isn't OK to post on social media. That will maintain trust and prevent arguments down the road.

Photo credit: Andrea Mowery

Jennifer Palumbo

Jennifer Palumbo

social media rule^

No nude — or partially clothed — photos of anyone, at anytime

Jennifer “Jay” Palumbo is a writer, former stand-up comic, current infertile, author of the blog The 2 Week Wait and a Proud IVF Mom. Palumbo says, "No Naked Pictures of Anybody in Your House (with the exception of pets). Whether it's a silly picture of your toddler in the backyard wearing nothing but his sneakers (yes, I own a picture of this) or a photo from your fun bachelorette days showcasing all of your assets before cellulite or the ravages of time took over, this is a no-no in my opinion. It falls under the 'Sounded Like a Good Idea At the Time' column. Neither you or your child may mind now but as time goes on and as either you or your child hopes to get a new job or get into an outstanding college, tushy shots would not be in your best interest."

Photo credit: Jennifer “Jay” Palumbo

Leigh-Ann Torres


Leigh-ann Torres

Leigh-Ann Torres is a freelance writer who blogs at Genie in a Blog. Torres says, "My rule about posting naked or underwear photos is to just not do it, and I'm shocked at the number of people that do. A few years ago I did a few photo-heavy posts that documented my days with the kids. In one of the posts, my kids were in their underwear, because it was late summer, and it was hot. In choosing my photos, I filtered them carefully, making sure there were no blatant underwear shots, nothing that I was uncomfortable posting. Within a few days, my site was receiving hits via keywords like 'IMGSRC panties' or 'little girls' panties.' I couldn't tell at the time if those searches led to that post, but every day that I received one of the suspicious keyword searches, I had hits on that post. After that I went through the post and scrutinized the photos with another filter — through the eyes of a pervert. And I ended up taking the majority of the photos down. Now I resist posting any photo in which my kids are not properly dressed. The really terrible part is that when I was getting these hits, I had to make myself do the actual keyword search myself, to see if photos of my girls came up in a search for 'panties' or any other combination I had seen come through. My screen filled with photos of children, some innocently taken by well-meaning parents trying to document something cute, and some in which it was clear that the child was being taken advantage of. It was sickening."

What the experts say^

Just like you can't control who might see rants that you post online, the same can be said about photos. What started off as a cute, innocent or funny picture may become anything but if that photo ends up in the wrong hands.

Photo credit: Casey Chapman-Ross

Lisa Heffernan

Lisa Heffernan

social media rule^

Don't post all day.

Lisa Heffernan is a business book author, soon-to-be empty nester and mom blogger at Grown & Flown. Heffernan says, "Just because it's always open, doesn't mean that you should always be on. Social media may be new and exciting, but don't get confused. The love and companionship of real people will never be replaced by the quips and cleverness of 1,368 'online' friends."

What the experts say^

Too much time spent online can mean too little time spent living life. Social media will always be there when you hop back online. Plus, most people are going to get tired of your constant updates if you post to social media all day, every day.

Photo credit: Lisa Heffernan

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