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10 Commandments of Social Media

Social media is meant to be just that…social – media. So I’ve come up with what I think is a great list of commandments to follow if you’re new OR experienced in social media.

1 – Thou shalt add value first, and sell LAST – If you have zero people in your network, and 3 articles on your blog, telling me about a joint venture opportunity I can REALLY benefit from is not going to work. Instead, leave a nice comment that adds value to one of my articles, or better, write an article on your own site that references my article, and then send me an e-mail letting me know about it.

ten_commandments_social_media 2 – Thou shalt listen twice as much as you talk – You have two ears, and one mouth. Please use them in that proportion! Pay attention and pick your spots to contribute. You are NOT an expert in everything, no matter what you might think.

3 – Thou shalt not spam all your contacts – Just because we are connected, doesn’t mean I’ve given you permission to spam me with every time you come up with a new idea. Ask me…and I may give you permission.

4 – Thou shalt not act like a stuck up jerk, no matter how many folks are following you on any/every platform.  In fact, I would say ESPECIALLY if you have a million folks who follow you. Seth Godin is a very friendly guy who responds to email, blog posts, and other things directed at him. If Seth Godin can make time to reply to email, so can you!

5 – Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s contacts – After I meet folks in person, I often invite them to connect with me on the various social media networks I’m part of, and I am always happy to introduce you to someone who can help you, or who you can help. I always USED TO say: “If there is anyone in my network you’d like to meet, let me know and I’ll be happy to make the introduction.” I say USED TO because I had someone who went through my network and cherry picked more than 50 people to make a connection to because he thought they could all “benefit from his services.” Guess how many I introduced him to? HINT: It rhymed with hero! Instead, I now say “Let me know of 1 or 2 people in my network you’d like to meet, and what value you can add to their life, and I’ll be happy to introduce you.” That simple twists helps me weed out the spammers!

6 – Thou shall personalize every invitation I make to join any network – automated messages are for robots! Remind me how you know me and why, and it’ll help me remember why I should let you in. Especially annoying: Automated DM after following on Twitter.

7 – Thou shalt remember that 10 can be more powerful than 10000 – If someone has 10 readers to their blog, they might have a little more time to review your book or talk to you than someone who has 10000 readers and is constantly promoting the latest this or that. Therefore 10 can be WAY more powerful than 10000.

8 – Thou shalt not beg (for anything) – Don’t beg me to be your friend, to give you a link, or to connect me to so and so. Just ask nicely, tell me what value you’ll bring to the equation, and I’ll be happy to assist if I can.

9 – Thou shalt be authentic and transparent in all you do – Don’t hide anything from your readers. There’s no shame in promoting people you like, but say you like them. Also, there’s no shame in promoting stuff you believe in for a few dollars in an affiliate program, but don’t be shy about it and hide the URL in something on your domain that forwards to an affiliate link (unless you disclose it). I typically will shorten the URL if I’m doing an affiliate program, or you’ll if it’s short enough, you’ll see it.

10 – Thou shalt take the blog off the blog – Blogging and twittering is GREAT but now and then, go to a conference or two. Enjoy a cup of coffee or brew with someone local to you. Pick up the phone and call someone. Handwrite a thank you note. Take the blog off the blog.

Am I crazy?

Is this too much to ask of folks? Or are these 10 commandments of social media all you need?

30 Responses to 10 Commandments of Social Media

  • There’s a reason they don’t call them the Ten Suggestions.

  • Dear Phil,

    What a most excellent blog! You have encapsulated everything that is important about authentic social media engagement. Well done my friend.

    No. 11 might be: Thou shalt not spam people with get rich quick schemes, automatic Twitter follower schemes, or other MLM schemes. Anyone who does that to me, I will instantly block as that is not what social media is about.

    The word “social” should give people a hint of how to carry on. It’s about conversations and dialogue, building trust, being caring and sharing, and letting people get to know you as a person.

  • Hi Phil .. great points – fortunately Gio taught us those points, always be polite and don’t abuse. Too many have done it .. I don’t like those kind of people in real life, so I certainly won’t like them in the blogosphere. Take your time and get to know people ..

    If we can get the be polite and don’t abuse message over to the world – we’d all benefit ..

    I can’t smile on the net via this comment .. but I can send you a big smile from my screen .. thanks for the post – really good & I hope loads of people read it ..

    All the best and have a good week and weekend …
    Hilary Melton-Butcher
    Positive Letters

  • Spot on, Phil!

    I despise it when some one follows me and when I follow them back I get a DM saying: “Get 10,000 followers in 3 days!(bogus link here)” It’s an automatic un-follow for me.

  • Really fantastic post. People should have to check a box that they “read and understand” these before completing their Twitter account sign-up :-)

  • Great post, Phil, but answer me this.

    WHY do we expect people to act differently in cyberspace than in the real world? Jerks are still jerks and menches are still menches wherever they are, stll, they’re more likely to show their true colors on the net.

  • Curious how come no one talked about Seth’s comment..

  • Hi Phil –

    I am not surprised that Seth Godin commented.

    This is one of the best posts I have seen on blogs and social media. Will be sure to spread it around on stumble.

  • This post demonstrates (at least, to me) that you are indeed the world’s best Social Media Coach! Thanks for giving some awesome advice from your years of experience in social media and within meatspace.

  • Phil –
    I hadn’t ran across your blog before, but saw a Tweet by @vbsetup and thought your blog title sounded interesting. And I’m happy to say the post was – I think you’ve hit the nail on the head! I too am sick of getting generic auto DM’s thanking me for following. I’d prefer something genuine and personalized or nothing at all. And the outright selling or telling me how to increase my followers… enough! Obviously these people haven’t truly figured out the best use of social networking.
    I agree with Andi, and wish that everyone starting in social media would read your commandments and take them to heart. The SM universe would be much better off!
    Keep up the good work!

  • Wow. Great facts and reminders. I am going to RT this. Thank you again for sharing.


  • These are great! I especially like #10. I love social networking as much as the next person, but I like connecting in person even more. It always amuses me when I meet a “social networking guru” in person and they have the social skills of a slug. Smile, be friendly, be open, and listen :)


  • Sacha, you hit the nail on the head.

    People often have a thousand friends in cyberspace because they have none in realspace.

    SM is too much like Second Life, you can be anyone you want with no one the wiser. And before anyone starts talking about authenticity, etc., give thought to Bernie Madoff and all the Bernie knock-offs who kept the balls in the air for a decade and they’d still be there if the economy hadn’t tanked.

    I love Phil and his commandments, but the folks who will follow them are the ones would do so anyway.

    For them, it’s a great list and easy to follow; for the rest, they’ll remain on the dark side and just dress their actions up to look better.

  • Hi Phil.
    Just happend to find your blog by accident, and I like it. I love this very post, and I shall try to follow it as good as I can.
    I had to include a link to this post on my blog, as I wrote a short guide to online networking, after an eye-opening discussion about this topic at David Zingers Employee Engangement Network. I have truly found out that 5 good online friends is much better than 500 friends on facebook (, getting a lot of friends is easy, finding the few that completes you is hard. I can not just pick a friend based on what they can give to me, but I need to feel that I can give something back as well. I am absolutley going to follow your blog on RSS, not quite best friends yet, but I will be a reader for now.


    Frode H

  • Great post – I love these commandments! I found you on Twitter @TheDailyBlonde. I am off to read more of your blog now!

  • Thanks to “The Daily Blonde”, for this link.
    I think that I agree.
    Is it my misconception that this world could
    use a few more commandments,
    social and or otherwise??

  • Where is: Don’t steal!

  • Excellent advice Phil. There are still many people who are just getting their feet wet in the social media arena, and these tips will help them get off to a great start. I plan to share your post with as many folks I know who would be interested in this advice. Thanks again!

  • I really like #2 Thou shalt listen twice as much as you talk . So true!

  • This was a fantastic post! I’m slightly tempted to print it out and frame it in each one of our offices as a sort of subliminal, daily rear-kicker…but I’ll need your permission for that first.

    #4 is my favorite and I’ve always felt the same way. Not following that commandment is akin to committing fraud. If someone doesn’t like being social, then they probably shouldn’t participate, support or otherwise be associated with a media form that’s predicated on social activity…just a thought.

    Looking forward to what’s next!

    • Derek – if you want to do an illustrated poster with these, I’d love to share it with my readers too! You have my permission :)

      Glad you enjoyed the commandments!

  • I really enjoyed reading these commandments because they’re all SO true. I’m still fairly new to the world of social media, but from what I’ve seen so far these should be the rules of the road. Love your writing style too!

  • Just saw a RT from D DivinePurposeMV . Thanks for the great advise! I’m just now becoming comfortable with my blog so this is very timely. Enjoying your blog posts.

  • Phil,
    The best 10 commandments for Social Media. With your permission, I would love to share the information. I am looking forward to following and connecting with you.

  • Thank you for this fantastic post! I absolutely love it, and I will share with my network. Happy new year!

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