Are you social on social media?

I once heard it said that a website is your living room, and social media is more like the kitchen or backyard. And because I can’t pass up a good mullet analogy, I think of it as business in the front, party in the back.

Social media isn’t just another website or newsletter — it’s a distinct space, a community of give and take. Here are a few ways to use this dynamic to your advantage and maximize engagement:

Be human. If you read your post aloud and it doesn’t sound the way you’d talk to your neighbor or friend, keep editing until you get it right.

When others post or comment, think of how you’d handle it in person. (Highly unlikely you’d walk away or sit in silence.) The vast majority of engagements deserve your attention, even if it’s just clicking like or favorite. If you’re dealing with a troll or unreasonable individual, go high. Respond once, invite an offline conversation (if appropriate) and — if it’s clear a fight is a higher priority than a solution — resist the temptation to engage further.

Be honest. Authenticity is the foundation of any friendship. If we can’t be honest when times are good — and honest when times are difficult — we can’t really be friends. When you need to share difficult news, or explain after an embarrassing incident that you’re already planning how you’ll do better next time, remember that you are actively building trust.

Loosen up. Generally speaking, we humans love warmth, humor and high fives. When the timing and tone is right, don’t be afraid to joke around or throw down some slang, a meme or a GIF. (It goes without saying, but there is no appropriate moment for a district voice to use vulgarity of any sort.)

Full throttle snark can be fun, but keep in mind it works best in certain social media communities and sites. It’s best to consider your platform, your audience and your purpose before adding “Be snarky” to your list of social media strategies.

If you’re not quite sure about letting down your guard, here are some simple examples that could play well in virtually any district:

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