by Jennifer Lumba | December 10, 2013

Handled improperly, social media can be just as frightening as the worst Halloween horror film.
Billions around the world now participate in the various public and private networks, which makes it more important than ever to follow a few basic rules of etiquette. Fail, and you'll be left for the digital dead. Here are 10 ways to avoid that fate:
1. Following rather than leading. Distinctiveness matters when it comes to developing a social media following. Don't just parrot what others find interesting via shares and retweets. Instead, pick a topic that interests you deeply and then post about it often.
2. Failing to set a schedule. Audiences gravitate to those who are visible. Set a schedule so that your followers know when to look for your posts and insights.
3. Indulging stale thinking. Remember that audiences get bored. Engage yours by varying your topics and posts. Introducing them not only to new material but also new sources. Soon enough, they'll pass the word about how smart your feed is and grow your audience in the process.
4. Ignoring other ideas. Celebrities can get away with posting about their latest pet project while ignoring the rest of the zeitgeist. You can't. Recognize usable insights from worthy posters. They just might return the favor.
5. Failing to engage. Similarly, don't ignore opportunities to improve relations with those who follow you. Start, and participate in, conversations in the social sphere. Prove that you're a human being and not some “bot” posting on a pre-determined schedule.
6. Never mixing it up. Just as you can vary your topics you can also vary the mood. Don't get stuck tweeting an endless stream of news. Post a joke or a funny observation instead. Or, if you're in a more somber place, say so. Reveal yourself to be the remarkably intelligent, funny, and fragile human being that you are.
7. Getting defensive. The Internet offers anonymity, creating a rich environment for critics. Social media enhances the impact by bringing said critics directly to your digital doorstep. This is one instance where it's better not to engage. Ignore your attackers, and instead invest in those friends and followers who are genuinely interested in your point of view.
8. Being rude. This should be self-explanatory. In case it isn't, remember that the Internet has a perfect memory. Don't put yourself in a position to make a comment that you'll later regret.
9. Failing to follow through. Followers have long memories. Don't raise expectations and then fail to meet them. Instead, under-promise and over-deliver. Be reliable and accountable in your conversations.
10. Being stingy with praise. Complement those whose posts inspire or educate you. Let praise flow where it's deserved and you'll improve not only your experience, but in introducing them to praiseworthy work, also that of your followers.
Halloween brings as many treats as it does frights. Social media offers a similar mix. So keep your posts fresh, your conversations civil, and your followers engaged. In the end, like the neighbor who hands out monster-sized candy to the kids with the best costumes, they'll reward for you for it.

Jennifer Lumba is the chief marketing officer of Rideau Recognition Solutions. Built on state-of-the-art technology, Rideau’s employee recognition and customer loyalty programs change the way companies recognize employee service and achievement, reward individual and team performance, strengthen customer relationships, and create brand loyalty. Lumba can be reached at [email protected].