Be it Twitter, Facebook or your in house business system, like Slack, private messaging can be a great way of sharing content and keeping in touch with fellow users, whilst keeping your public profile free of ‘random chat’ and messages best left to the private sphere.
This of course includes all those random drunk Friday night chats all about your private ‘spheres’…and we’ve all had a few of THOSE conversations, right (Ed: speak for yourself).
- Be aware that even though something is ‘private’ any messages can be ‘screen grabbed’ or possibly viewed. In the wake of recent Facebook allegations on data privacy and Slack’s ability to monitor employees messages, ensure you fully review who could possibly see your data before clicking send.
- Check, check and check again who you’re messaging. Be sure you know who you’re actually talking to. Is it a generic corporate account, a real live person or a sex bot? All require very different approaches.
- Remember just because you sent a PM/DM, it won’t always stay private – everything can be copied and pasted complete with your profile picture.
- Remember other people may ‘accidentally’ access users accounts, so if your messaging is particularly fruity/honest/libellous, check the way the recipient is responding. Is the language they’re using the same? Is the use of emojis, tone and sayings the same? In short, are you talking to the right person?
- Keep things brief. Messaging is not the medium for a 1,400 word essay on your subject of choice. Think along the lines of Twitter, 140 characters, and make them work for you. Most people are reading messages on smaller screens, so constant scrolling means the important part of your message may be lost.
- Remember when to leave/stop. This goes for PMing a company, your celeb crush on Instagram or your newest friend on Facebook – keep them wanting more. Plus, you know, RSI is on the rise, so give your digits a rest.
- Try to understand how the different PM/DMs work across social media.
- Twitter – great for ‘quick’ chats or when you need to share details with a company to resolve a complaint.
- Facebook – for friends, use the messenger app. It’s good for longer conversations, much like Skype, but be wary of the obligatory ‘online’ status – there’s no way of turning it off, so everyone knows you’re online.
- Instagram – well, no one really uses it, as it’s really just a quick way to send an Instagram post link to someone else. In our opinion, Instagram isn’t really set up to be an ‘interactive’ tool, it’s much more designed to show off your ‘tools’.
- Skype/Google Hangouts – a real chat client, similar to WhatsApp. You can create groups and chat to one person, or several people, at a time. It’s easy to make yourself ‘invisible’ (always handy) but predominantly used for quick text messages, sending pics or video chatting for free across the world.
Find a social media app that works for you and your recipient; they all have pros and cons, so use one that supports your needs.
- Whatever you do, don’t PM, DM or otherwise attempt direct contact with celebrities. It doesn’t matter that they waved to you that time in Sainsbury’s, or that they ‘liked’ or replied to a post of yours. You won’t come across as a friendly fan or fellow ‘creative type’, you will come across as a psychopathic stalker.
- Straight males approaching females – don’t have your opening message say ‘Hey hot chick, wanna look at my dick’. We can assure you that 99.9% of women have no desire to see it, hear about it or do anything with it.
- In fact, straight men approaching women – be very very careful what you message ladies. Don’t, for example, approach someone you’ve only just started following and have barely responded to with the classic ‘hey girl, wanna hang?’. At best you’re likely to be sent a gif of a hangman’s noose.
- Don’t assume you’ll get an immediate response. People are online at different times, or may be doing different things, or may need to think before formulating a response. Be patient. Be calm. In essence, be Yoda.
- With this is mind, don’t hassle people if you ‘see’ they’re online but aren’t responding to you. Give them a break, they may be logged on for a specific reason, which may not include you. If you are real proper buddies then you may have their number and if it’s an emergency you can ring them, but otherwise don’t demand their attention all the time.
- For heaven’s sake, don’t rant, rage and swear at a recipient, regardless of how frustrated you may be. Try to remain calm and state your issues and needs appropriately. In fact, wherever possible try not to respond if you’re seeing red – it never ends well.
What have we forgotten? How do you stay sane on social media? How do you ensure your private messages stay private? How do you deal with PM invaders?