Facebook, Twitter: careful what you tell the world

What's the last thing you posted on your Facebook status update? Have you tweeted today? Do you know what you're telling the web world, and furthermore, your online community?

Social media outlets have completely revolutionized the way society communicates. This is all good and well until you realize the reach of the virtual realm. Facebook status updates, tweets on Twitter and LinkedIn profile updates, specifically, are a gateway to mass communication and online citizens are often quick to publish whatever is on their minds. But, do you think about what you're telling to whom?

Your online network tends to consist of more people than you might immediately think of-old high school classmates, former co-workers, frenemies, etc., so it's advisable to be cautious of the content you throw out into cyberspace. That's not to say you should keep personal, exciting news to yourself; but it's important to consider how big your small talk can become.

Here are some tips on appropriate small talk tactics for your social networks.

1. Establish a purpose before you post and proliferate. Are you just announcing something or are you open to a dialog? If you want to let people know you're taking an exotic vacation, it's better to engage your network. Try, "Just booked a ticket to India. Anyone have hotel or restaurant recommendations?"

2. Don't over share. TMI (too much information) on the WWW is tasteless. When you share too much, people stop asking questions and it's as if you're simply looking for a reaction rather than a discourse.

3. Apply normal small talk rules. Primarily, avoid controversial topics (politics, religion, etc.) in such a diverse and public forum. If you feel compelled to stir up your social network, try posing a question, like, "What does everyone think about the new healthcare initiative?" Your neutral headline will be less controversial and his will keep you within the boundaries of electronic etiquette.

4. Let people know about major, not minor, events in your life. Events like getting a new house, a marriage proposal, a college acceptance, a job promotion, the birth of a child, etc. are fine to share with the cyber community.

5. Don't be so self-important. It's fine to promote an accomplishment like getting an article published or a product you support, but keep sponsorships to a minimum. The lesson: self-endorsement can come across as self-indulgent.

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