Posted On February 10, 2013

I recently appeared on The Today Show to talk about digital etiquette. The question of the day was, “When is it NOT OK to announce something online?”  Well, you’re talking to a self-professed over-sharer here, so I might be a little biased, but here are a few thoughts:

Before you announce anything major online, always think, “Will anyone in my life be upset if they find out online, rather than from me directly?” And make sure you tell those people first. Your family finding out on Facebook that you’re engaged? Not ok. Your boss finding out on LinkedIn that you have a new job? Definitely not cool.

When I was about 4 months pregnant with my son, I had one-on-one conversations with close friends and family before saying anything online. But even then, I STILL had someone say to me, “Gee, I thought I was a better friend than just finding out alongside everyone else.” It’s really hard to get it 100% right.

There are some situations where it can be really powerful to announce something online, such as declaring that you’re quitting smoking, training for a marathon, or getting in shape. That way, your friends can support you and encourage you along the way. There are even fun apps, like the Nike+ app, that cheers loudly for you in your ear whenever a Facebook friend “likes” your status update that you’re out on a run.

But even for those who hate confrontation, announcing something online should NEVER be a substitute for having a difficult conversation in person. It’s very poor form to break-up with someone online, simply by changing your relationship status from “in a relationship” to “single,” without discussing it first.  If people who are important to you feel surprised or blind-sided by a social media update, you’re doing it wrong.

Online announcements can be wonderful, powerful, and efficient. But before you share, always think about how you’d feel if the situation was reversed and you were the person on the other side of the post.

What do you think? What kinds of major announcements have you shared online? Has anything surprised you that your friends have shared? We want to know!



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