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Social Media Karma and the Golden Rule The golden rule, 'treat others as one would like others to treat oneself' should always apply in the world of social media.

By Ann Tran

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Have you heard of the golden rule? Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. In other words, treat other people in the way you'd like to be treated. This same rule applies to the world of social media.

So think before you tweet. Here are a few etiquette rules:

Don't embarrass professionals.

Journalists, writers, bloggers, content creators, whatever you call them, they all are trying to get their work out there. One way they do so is by spreading the word on social media. And this strategy is a win-win, as the author is able to market her posts in a simple fashion and people can easily discover new stories. But because of how fast the world of media is moving, sometimes errors occur, like typos, grammatical errors or incorrect information.

Do you point out the mistake publicly to embarrass and shame the writer or author? Or do you private message the individual so they can correct the mistake as quickly as possible? I choose the kinder, quieter route because it does not serve you or the other party to be mean and spiteful. Be gracious, and the author will be thankful and you'll probably gain a friend for life.

And another thing: Don't dismiss the person immediately when you see a typo or mistake. Read the article to the end, as you may find it useful and may benefit from the piece. Dismissing a writer's credibility completely because of a single typo seems inflexible to me.

Give credit where credit is due.

It's standard procedure to give credit to the photographer if you use their images. If you see someone using your photos, and they haven't given you photo credit, private message them. It's possible that they may not really understand the protocol. Be gentle and you will be surprised to find that it is an innocent mistake.

But keep in mind that everyone doesn't just want a photo credit. Images are copyrighted, so the best route is to ask before you use.

Don't be a bully or a tattletale.

I have seen so many forms of bullying over the years on social media. I usually hang back, watching carefully and not reacting immediately. Whether the attack is directed at you or at a friend, assess the situation first and don't fire off a tweet or comment immediately. Also, don't go ganging up on the person -- we're not in high school. The drama and gossip will get back to the individual and probably come back to haunt you.

Analyze and process the situation. Is this worth your time, your energy or even a tweet? When you re-tweet them or call them out, it gives the person validation and the situation momentum, especially if the person has a decent following.

So whenever I completely disagree with an article or a tweet, I chat off line rather than give the article or that individual any more attention than is necessary. Of course, one can have a productive healthy discussion -- just keep it professional.

Anonymity is not carte blanche.

Just remember, tweeting from a smartphone or a computer screen does not give you the right to be unkind. Being friendly and helpful to people goes so much further than a public attack. Guess what? It reflects back on you. People may not acknowledge your action openly, but they will go "radio silent" on you. What does that mean? No more shares, re-tweets or engagement.

Social media seems like such an expansive universe but really it is a small, small social world. I believe that in social media, that "six degrees of separation" connects us in a way that we were never connected before. So think before you blast out your spiteful tweets or comments. These connections bind us together by our shares.

Ann Tran

Social Media Consultant

Ann Tran is a respected social media consultant, travel social marketing strategist, influencer, and sought-after speaker at social media and technology events.  Ann helps brands understand and use the power of digital media and online influence to build their business. 

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