Netiquette 101: Search *Before* You Ask In Social

This is something that’s been true long before the current wave of social tools existed. Back in the days when boards and forums reigned supreme, you would have been slaughtered if you asked something without using that site’s search function first to dig up previous threads.

Now the web is bigger, more content is being added daily, and there’s even more ideas out there. About everything. It shows a total disregard for the time of those in your network (and can actually make you look bad) if you ask something in social without conducting a simple web search first. But I see it daily both personally and professionally, people asking something in social when search could have solved their issue instantly.

Despite social not being new and this being a simple netiquette 101 thing, from my own observations this persists.

So with that, some things to think about …

Your network may not have the best answers. Search results on most platforms (both horizontal and vertical) usually take into account diversity, aggregation and incentives at a scale larger than your friends. Use this to your advantage to find the best information.

Use social to refine your research. If you’re going to ping your network with a question about, say a new piece of software, do your homework first and flesh out a “hit list” of what you’re considering. Then use your network to help refine it. Being specific here will not only get you better answers, those brands may even join the discussion and answer your questions. Search, learn, then start threads. Simple.

Dig into previous discussions on social platforms. The exact thread you’re starting may have already been covered exhaustively. And while some things change at a rapid pace, change isn’t that fast for most things. A great garlic chicken pasta recipe is probably pretty timeless. There’s plenty of value of the archives, don’t always obsess over what’s new, now when you can find what’s best. And realize frequently those in your network who are web savvy are just searching for answers and posting the responses.

Use tools before people. Professionally, this one is so true. Every time you ping your network for something you are in a sense using up some of your trust and equity built with them. If you ping them only when you really need something they’ll be far more likely to devote time to a response than if you pester them with things you could solve on your own.

What do you think? Do you notice this with your networks too? Is it just a flood of new social users who don’t understand netiquette?

And if you’re not yet a power searcher, take advantage of some of the amazing resources to become better at search today.

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