21/08/2012 17:32 | By Eve Menezes Cunningham, contributor, MSN Her

Tweetiquette – how to make social media work for you

Psychology writer Eve Menezes Cunningham explains how to manage your different relationships through social media.


Lord Sugar and Tulisa (© Doug Peters EMPICS Entertainment, Sean Dempsey PA Wire Press Association Images)

Lord Sugar and Tulisa came to blows over Twitter this week

Christina Aguilera and Kelly Osbourne allegedly called each other fat, Tulisa and Alan Sugar made headlines this week and Rihanna quickly told Ciara she wanted to smooth things over after their public spat last year. And while few of us have as many Twitter followers or friends on Facebook, learning from celebrity Twitter feuds can help us avoid real world headaches. These tips will help you clean up your virtual reputations with positive real life consequences.

"Faceless public sites make people dissociate from what they're actually doing so they're much more likely to behave in a way that they wouldn't in real life," says Dr Kate Anthony, a Fellow of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy and co-founder of the Online Therapy Institute.

Dr Anthony says that social media has brought us so much closer that the figure is now 4.7 degrees rather than six degrees of separation. "Block people who post abusive comments and report them." Choose Twitter settings which allow you to approve new 'followers,' check privacy settings on Facebook and learn how to 'untag' yourself in others' pictures. When posting, "Remember that once it's up there, it's up there for life whether you delete it or not. Know when to apologise and take responsibility."

Christina Aguilera and Kelly Osbourne (© Jonathan Short, Matt Sayles, AP, Press Association)

Kelly Osbourne and Christina Aguilera allegedly called each other fat over Twitter

"Some paranoid personalities do not work well within this medium," says Duncan Lawrence a psychotherapist and diversity trainer who has been using social media for five years. "Clarify 'company opinions' and 'personal opinions' - I know people who have lost clients and jobs because they haven't considered this. Avoid giving mixed messages by using it for business and social / pleasure."

"Don't talk about having been out on the lash last night - unless it was a celebrity party," says Alessandro di Savoia, CEO of Aardvark Records and an integrated communication lecturer at University College Falmouth. Learning how to use social media appropriately has helped several of his students land jobs, publishers, agents and editors and a couple of his fashion students have been headhunted.

"Research your industry," says Alessandro. "Post interesting stories and news snippets. Tweet on a regular basis, every other day or even three times a week. Before publishing, step back or even call a friend. Be clear about what you are saying. Be mindful of your audience - especially with a global following."

"I wasn't sure about Twitter at first," says Anna Hemmings, MBE, six times World Champion Kayaker and film director of Beyond the Barriers. "It's great for sharing information, opinions and interesting links but there's a fine line between having a discussion and an argument." Anna points out that the 140-character limit can make messages appear terser than you may have intended.

Rihanna and Ciara (© Doug Peters, EMPICS Entertainment, PA Wire, Press Association)

Rihanna and Ciara apologised to each other after their public spat on Twitter

"I've landed a few jobs thanks to Twitter," says Kelly Rose Bradford, a freelance journalist and broadcaster. "I am quite shameless at using Twitter to plug when I am on the radio or directing people to things I have written when I think it could be beneficial. I am generally very careful but did have a wine-induced slip-up once when I was trying to show someone a photo of somebody and I updated my status with their name instead of typing it in the searchbox... oops. And I am sometimes guilty of the odd 'what I'm having for lunch' or 'look at my cute animal' (dull!) tweet. I think you can sometimes start to write something and think, hang on, what's this really saying about me? It can make you self examine - or at least it should. Don't say anything to anyone on Facebook or Twitter that you wouldn't say to their face." She recommends checking which 'rights' sites are grabbing your images and information, and being careful about enabling location functions.

"Ask yourself if you would be happy to have what you are about to post spread all over the front of the daily tabloids because, in effect, that is what you are doing each time you put yourself out there," says speaker and trainer, Marilyn Devonish. "It really is possible to convey your energy and personality in just 140 characters. People say they visit my pages regularly to read my status updates for inspiration, a laugh, or to expand their mind or thinking so it's lovely to know that those words don't just disappear off into cyberspace. I have also learned that even though people may not respond, comment, or 'like' a post they are still watching, reading and taking notice."

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