Today I am going to have a rant about online manners. General etiquette if you will.

I see so many things that make me mad. Which probably means I need a holiday. Or to get off social media for a weekend. But might just be because people are getting lazier and ruder and need a good kick up the arse. Here are my “don’t be rude” rules for life on social media. Following these will get you good karma and stop people thinking you’re a dick. I confess, I have been previously guilty of some dick behaviour, I'm not perfect. But I'm not a constant and never-ending dick.

Facebook Groups

I’m not going into Facebook generally, I’d be here all day. Life is too short. I’m talking about professional-type groups here. Freelance groups, VA groups that type of thing.

Number 1: Don’t take take take and never give back. These people are NOT your personal go-to IT providers, support help-desk, lawyers and so on. We all ask for advice from time to time when we’re stumped. That’s fine, that’s one of the reasons why we are there and why groups are so amazing. But I see so many people forever asking for input, favours and hard-won knowledge from others who I NEVER see reply to anyone else’s posts. Yes, I know, lots of them ask the same inane questions that we see three million times “How do I get clients?” “what timesheets does everyone use?” yawn. I know. But you were new once too, take 2 minutes out of your day and reply (fine, cut and paste the same shizzle you wrote last time, as long as it’s relevant) but don’t be a user without being a resource.

Number 2: Don’t reply to requests for help by blatantly flogging your own stuff. I know that new or wannabe VAs are prime candidates for training and books. I should know, I wrote a book for them! But, it makes you look a bit desperate and sad. When I first published Virtually Painless I did try this once or twice but it made my skin crawl, I just felt like a dick. And why? Because that is in fact total dick behaviour. I know that really I wanted to be a bit lazy and not have to write the same stuff twice but it didn’t feel good. If people are asking about training or books, fair enough but the reply to “how do I get clients?” is not “buy my book”. Even if that book totally will answer their question without you having to say the same thing 14 times a day. If your thing is that good, other people will suggest it to those that need it and send people your way. And that feels WAY better.

You have no idea how lovely it is when someone suggests that other people read your book. It’s like being given a bottle of prosecco and a straw and foot rub all in one. The glow lasts for days. Wouldn’t you rather have that then a vague grubby feeling of dickery?

(and, I’m on negatives here, but if there is a group or a book or a website or some training that has helped you. Or a person that has helped you. Why not suggest them when people are after advice? Spread the love. Share a useful blog or a weblink or tag someone in. The asker will get a useful resource and the person you have suggested will be delighted. The same when people you know are doing something new – a Facebook live on their business page or whatever, if you can, support and share, it takes seconds but they will love you for it. Obviously be aware that most FB groups won't let you share competitor info.)


I’m sure there is a name for this and some Twitter guru will tell me. But I’m going to call it “piggybacking”. Largely because I’ve already used the phrase “don’t be a dick” way too many times in this blog.

So I’ve seen this manifest in two ways. Firstly, if you are ever on a big tweet chat that is popular or a hashtag that is getting loads of conversation, there will always be someone who thinks “ooh, that’s a busy hashtag, let me randomly and for no reason at all add it to my tweet selling my stuff”. No. Bad manners. Just because there is a trending hashtag does not make it cool to join in for an entirely unrelated sales tweet “Holiday cottage to rent in Cornwall. @eurovision2018”. You sir, are a Knob.

The second way is even more cringe-making. Selling your shit and tagging in a celebrity or a well known business person. Unless you actually know them and think they will give a toss about you, your life, whatever business milestone you’ve accomplished, don’t tag in these people. Apart from the obvious fact that they will ignore you, others will see it and think you are a total dick. Trust me.

On everything

Over-tagging. Is there anything more annoying than being tagged on something irrelevant just to get your attention and increase engagement? Whether it’s a LinkedIn article and people tag anyone that went to a networking meeting or on Facebook /Twitter / Instagram to make people look at a post. It is annoying. Don’t do it. Tag me on one thing that is specifically interesting to me, maybe even me and a couple of others. Tagging 65 people to ask if they want to go to an event or know how to fix your printer, no, just no.

And here endeth the rant on manners. Please do add anything I have missed. Is there Insta-etiquette? Anyone get Pinterest rage?I don’t get on there much so may have missed many annoying things people do.

If you think I am a wildly oversensitive soul, see also the rules here from other folk: