Revisiting 10 Golden Rules of Social Media


As 2010 opens its doors, I wanted to take another look at my Golden Rules of Social Media, published back in May of 2009, to see if I could consolidate those rules into five actions we can take to work better in — and through — social media in the coming year.

Here is the original list of ten social media rules to live and work by:

  1. Respect the Spirit of the ‘Net.
  2. Listen.
  3. Add Value.
  4. Respond.
  5. Do Good Things.
  6. Share the Wealth.
  7. Give Kudos.
  8. Don’t Spam.
  9. Be Real.
  10. Collaborate.

5 Things to Do Within Social Media in 2010

Here is how I’d consolidate those rules to the fundamental ideas about how we should be using social media tools and platforms in 2010:

  1. Listen. The best way to start your foray in social networks and other social media platforms is to listen. Listen to the conversations already happening around you before you jump in to join them. Listen to the ebb and flow. Listen to the rhythm of discourse. Listen to the stream to make sure you understand — and respect — what is already taking place. You will surely misstep if you do not listen.
  2. Add Value. The term “value” is subjective, but once you have truly listened, you will be able to discern with relative certainty what is valuable to any given conversation or community. Can you add value to the conversation, not just an empty voice? Can you be a resource? A supporter? A cheerleader? An organizer? What is your social media value proposition?
  3. Respond. If you are listening, you will hear when someone says something that begs your attention. You will hear when someone references you. You now have a door to enter the conversation. And if you’ve listened thoughtfully and have something valuable to share, your participation will be welcome.
  4. Do Good Things. At this point in our lives, we should all know right from wrong. We should all want to do the right thing. We know that spamming is wrong — it is invasive, thoughtless, worthless, and a surefire way to mucking up a potential conversation. We know that scamming is wrong. We know that being honest is good and the right thing to be. We know that helping others and being generous is good, too.
  5. Be Real. Be yourself. Even if you are representing a company or brand and are using the “voice of the company” or “voice of the brand,” you can still be human. Yes there is a time and place for automating a message, but learn when that’s appropriate. Be present. Be there. If you — or a real person who is paying attention and cares — cannot be there, don’t bother with social media. Remember that people are on the receiving end of everything you put out in more intimate ways than ever before. Don’t abuse that privilege when they let you into their feeds and streams.

What is the most powerful social media lesson you’ve learned in 2009 that can be good advice to others?


Nancy D. Brown

I’ve learned that Social Media (and Twitter in particular) are most beneficial with two way conversation.

Your post is a perfect example. At the end of the post you asked an engaging question: What is the most powerful social media lesson you’ve learned in 2009?

Better to engage than constantly self promote.
Follow me on Twitter @Nancydbrown (yes – I’m self promoting!)


This is awesome. I would also say, GIVE, GIVE, and GIVE. Prop others up and don’t expect anything from it. It comes back to your tenfold.


common sense, if the world would apply the basics, it would be a better then a green world!

Authentic Seacoast Resorts

This is wonderful and incorporates our own simple philosophy for social media: be a good person, keep it real, add some humour. Let’s make 2010 a great year for folks using social media, where we form real relationships and build communities of shared value among friends. Thanks for the inspiration and opportunity to share our beliefs.


Good reminders for me as I head into 2010- my mind swimming with new ideas for the new year. We live in exciting times. Thanks.


I like the second one: add value. Most people seem to think they can always get “something for nothing” on their social media pages and then wonder why they get unfollowed or unfriended.



Very helpful advice. I especially enjoy “Listen” because it suggests a careful approach to social media. There is a strategic component that many businesses (and individuals) miss out on and, while it’s a relatively safe misstep at this point in the same, “fail to plan, plan to fail” is a mantra sure to be realized. As far as strategic steps go, I would suggest Build Your Understanding (Listen), Build Your Presence (Participate and Integrate), then Collaborate. All the while, be genuine/real – reminds me of Clue-train Manifesto and “human voice.” Thanks for the post!

Dylan Duong

I think if you put forth a strong, consistent effort to do the 5 things you mentioned on your list and work your butt off at doing it to the best of your abilities, people will recognize it over time.

Timely and honest engagement with your core audience and reaching out makes your brand more authentic.

As with building an offline relationship, it takes time to mature but it certainly is worth the effort to build a strong relationship first based on common interest, being of service and being of service and generous goes a long way. Those things cannot be faked.

Bob Cargill

Excellent post. I’m going to tweet about it in just a few minutes. As I wrote on my own blog recently, I think giving respect is as important as getting respect in social media. You really can’t have one without the other. The more genuinely sensitive and supportive you are of others on Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc., the more likely those very same people will pay attention to you and perhaps return the favor. That’s the way it is in social media — like life itself.


I am a big believer in passing along news and information. Sharing is an easy way to build strength for others and yourself.

Jody Raines

Great list. Adding “Do Unto Others” as the #1 to my personal list. Also adding “It’s called SOCIAL media” – just as a reminder that constantly crowing about oneself is not a social activity…

Thanks for sharing. I’m re-tweeting!

Susan Hill

These are great golden rules for our online lives! Thanking others and showing appreciation online fosters community. Social media has the potential to make this the most supportive decade in memory: for creativity and new business, ideas and services.

Joan Stewart, The Publicity Hound

As for #4: Do Good Things, how about a reminder to refrain from dropping F bombs? I see otherwise smart business people who would never do this when talking to clients face-to-face peppering their Twitter posts and Facebook status updates with every conceivable derivation of the F word.

Abe Froman

f bomb? be real. we’re not talking to clients. we’re talking to “not” clients. f is real. take political correctness elsewhere. no one likes it. they just do it because they are afraid of what others think. F!

Tara Alemany

I have to agree with Joan, and not just for that one word. Profanity has no place in a social forum. It’s called “being sensitive to others.” So, let’s play nice!


Promote others and share the good stuff that we find. Find things that we are passionate about and allow that passion to find its way into our writing/posts. Genuinely try to solve problems and find solutions. Don’t be boring. Don’t be selfish. Think in terms of providing informational value and entertainment value. In social media, we are all story tellers and content providers, what story do our posts tell about us?


You can still be personable and never be seen. If you’re the person behind the computer screen, try to seem like a human- not a machine.

Chris (Inside Alaska)

We have learned to provide value for current followers/friends instead of constantly trying to earn more. Ultimately, if existing fans are passionate about your content, they will help you increase your number of connections.

Racing toward popularity yields few lasting results.

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