The 36 Rules of Social Media.

Via David McConaghay
on Jan 16, 2013
get elephant's newsletter

Screen shot 2013-01-15 at 10.48.57 AM

In the Fall of 2004, I was a freshman in college and TheFacebook had just expanded to include a handful of East coast institutions, including mine.

At first, I was incredulous. Dismissive at best. I couldn’t believe people were actually wasting their time filling out profiles and poking each other.

When I finally caved in and signed up in October, I was sure I’d done a valiant job of holding out for a full eight weeks. As it turns out, I was still one of the first few thousand participants in the global experiment that is social, or “new” media.

These days, as a business-person concerned with sales and marketing, I have a rich and complex relationship with social media. As such, I found this crowd-sourced collection of social media Rules to be full of wisdom, not to mention amazing typography.

rules of social media

This poster via FastCompany contains advice that applies far beyond the world of YouFace. Here are the snippets I find most applicable to my own practice.

#5. As monetization attempts go up, consumer experience goes down.

This is one of the greatest conundrums of marketing. You create fun content or sponsor a great event so that people will associate your brand with their own good feelings. Except, those good feelings dissipate the more you push your brand into the mix. But if you don’t present your brand when you get the chance, then your investment is squandered.

The key is to give people something they didn’t know they already wanted. Then they will be inspired to seek the source of this unexpected joy, at which point you should be ready to hand them an awesome sticker which happens to have your website in small print. The lesson as always: less is more.

#6. Don’t try to be clever. Be clever.

Obviously, this is easier said than done. But when I think about it, I only ever fall on my face when I am attempting to be clever. I get the best results when I am simply myself. Be honest and articulate, and you won’t go too far wrong.

#8. Always write back

This is one of those rules that apply everywhere all the time. My Uncle once gave me the sage advice to “act on every email immediately,” not to read and save for later. This has served me well, and the principle holds true for social media work as well. Unless it’s spam, no comment, inquiry or customer should ever be left hanging. At the very least, say “Thanks!” Worst-case scenario is that you get the last word, and everyone knows it’s smart to want that.

#9 Have an ROI. Have and ROI. Have an ROI

If there’s no ROI, what’s the point? Return on investment is not necessarily always monetary, but your efforts need to generate some tangible benefit to be justified. Rule #12 (“Not everything will work, and that’s fine”) is relevant, but if you’re struggling consistently, don’t keep banging your head against the wall. Seek assistance and find a new approach.

#13. Embrace negative content about your brand

It shows great confidence and depth of character to address smack-talking directly, so long as you keep calm and polite. This is an opportunity to offer an explanation (different than an excuse), attempt to remedy the situation or else refute the essential validity of the attack. Our fearless editor-in-chief here at elephant is a master at channeling negative content into positive brand development. Here is another example of a well-executed error-embrace:

via Mashable
via Mashable

When negativity is projected in your direction, it is an occasion to reflect sincerely on the potential merits of what is being said and resolve to make an adjustment, or else to accept that not everyone can always agree and practice letting go of the need to please. Indeed, your brand should piss someone off.

#14. Everyone’s an influencer

This is why you always write back. Our world is becoming increasingly democratic (in that every voice counts) as the internet has empowered individuals to share opinions and information with the whole world. At this point, I advise you not to downplay the power of One. We are all alone together here, and an injustice to one is an injustice to all. It only takes a single prick to set the whole web to tingling. No wonder terrible governments are toppling left and right, and those yet to fall are trembling in their steel-toe boots. Recognize and appreciate this power in others. Never forget that it lives within you too. Please, wield your power wisely.

#34. If you’re bored by social media, it’s because you’re trying to get more value than you create.

The other day, a conscious friend of mine posted on The Face: “I like your pretty pictures but what else are you offering?” This is a profound sentiment, addressing an attitude that is pervasive throughout our lives. I think it is only natural to want as much as you can get, but there will always be those who are unashamed to claim way more than their share—of food, of attention, of resources. It is not necessary to over-correct and deprive oneself to account for these vampires, but there is a happy balance to be struck. The rule of thumb: take what you need, give all that you can.

Which rules resonate with you?
What social media marketing practices do you find most effective?
Most annoying?

Like elephant journal on Facebook.



Ed: Kate Bartolotta



About David McConaghay

David McConaghay is an Ayurvedic practitioner and Vedic Astrologer based in Boulder, Colorado. A former Division 1 athlete, David discovered yoga as a means to bring ease to an overburdened body. Now certified to practice Ayurveda and Jyotish, the cutting edge of David's enthusiasm is to explore and teach the overlaps between ancient Vedic ideas and the futuristic models of physics and biology proposed by pioneers like Nassim Haramein and Dr. Bruce Lipton. In addition to extensive training (RYT-500) in the Sivananda tradition, David has a B.A. in English and Creative Writing from the George Washington University. He brings his expansive knowledge, playful spirit and precise language to conversations with students, clients and peers alike. More info is available at


13 Responses to “The 36 Rules of Social Media.”

  1. Laurafaun says:

    good, no great content….gotta keep this handy and read and reread….thanks young man

  2. Yema says:

    I loved this, I find this very helpful; it’s a good reminder of things I knew and it confirms other stuff I wasn’t too sure about. I’ll be saving that image, thankyou!

  3. DaveTelf says:

    Glad it helps Yema. There is a more extensive list of tidbits on FastCompany's site:

    Thanks for reading!

  4. DaveTelf says:

    To reread is the highest compliment.

    Thank you for commenting too. Mostly the goal is to start a conversation.

  5. Bill says:

    ALL of these tips resonate with me equally. Thanks!

  6. Katya says:

    Love the wisdom in this, especially 13 and 34.

  7. DaveTelf says:

    Awesome! Thanks Bill.

  8. Magnificent beat ! I would like to apprentice whilst you amend your site, how can i subscribe for a blog site? The account helped me a applicable deal. I were a little bit acquainted of this your broadcast provided brilliant transparent idea

  9. DaveTelf says:

    This is my favorite comment ever.

  10. DaveTelf says:

    Thanks Katya, so glad it's helpful.

  11. Adam Johnson says:

    I was always told that buying social media influence is a bad idea since I started up a social media selling website. Why would they get cheap youtube views
    , people would ask. I always responded aggressively. Now that I've realized that it wasn't the way forward. I openly accept criticism about my brand like you mentioned in your article.

  12. […] I break down the words “social media,” I am reminded that media is content we create; social is how we share that […]

  13. George says:

    Social media plays a vital role in our everyday life.Now a days social media is must for marketing.We can share about my many thing with the help of social media and when customers know new thing they become happy.A person can find sponsor of his brand by the social media.
    social media marketing plan