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by Jennifer Lumba | October 29, 2015
As Halloween looms, it's worth remembering that some of the most terrifying creatures out there can be found online. Are you indulging in frightening behavior on social media? Here are 10 signs you might be, and how to fix them before it's too late.

1. Hijacking an ongoing conversation. You wouldn't walk up and interrupt a conversation between two strangers. You wouldn't even do that to two friends. And yet, on social media, this happens all the time. Be mindful of the flow of conversation before inserting your opinion. Or, better yet, ask permission.

2. Blocking at the first sign of trouble. As a term, social media can be an oxymoron: few media are more impersonal. Some will think nothing of insulting or shaming you, and you'll be tempted to block them in response. Don't. Instead, reply politely if you can while ignoring any personal attacks. You'll learn to better face your critics while developing the thick skin necessary to participate in social media.

3. Replying randomly. Nothing is more frustrating to followers than a contact who disappears after she gets what she wants from her network. Don't be that person. Reply to every message that's relevant to your expressed area of interest.

4. Replying in anger. Random replies are bad enough. Scolding followers who reach out is worse in that it creates distrust and distance between you and those you're targeting while showcasing your bad attitude for others to see. Don't let it get that far. Take a breath, and if you still need to say something, say it in a private message.

5. Broadcasting constantly. Social media is supposed to be about engagement. Broadcasting constantly takes the "social" out of the equation, turning an otherwise engaged audience into a spoon-fed collective of stragglers. Take the time to engage and your audience will respond with engagement.

6. Talking down to followers. No one likes to be dismissed or talked down to in face-to-face conversation. Why should social media be any different? Treat every comment -- even the inaccurate or offensive ones -- with a sense of grace and your audience will be quick to forgive your own transgressions.

7. Ignoring common courtesy. Again, how do you want to be treated? Act rude or inconsiderate online and your audience will be just as likely to abandon you as they would in any real-world social situation. They may also tell their friends, hobbling your network before you get a chance to grow it.

8. Never offering support. Much like their real-world counterparts, online communities are built around shared experience or interest. Coming to the aid of members, when needed, is the price of admission. Members who avoid responsibility can quickly find themselves on the outside looking in. Don't wait for that to happen; look for opportunities to connect with and offer support to friends and followers -- especially if you can demonstrate expertise in doing so.

9. Never offering praise. Would you rather work for the boss who never offers a kind word but pays well, or the boss who pays a fair wage yet always makes time to recognise your contributions? If you said the latter, you're with the majority of workers. Social media is a similarly human enterprise. Followers will always gravitate to those who recognise their work and worth to the community at large.

10. Remaining anonymous. Vulnerability breeds trust; you can't be vulnerable when you're anonymous. Lift the veil and be yourself on social media. You'll attract more authentic and productive relationships as a result, especially if you mind your manners and treat your friends and followers with the respect they deserve.

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 jenniferlumba@rideau.com.