How to Act on Social Media: A Modern Man’s Guide
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Your Best Behavior is a column for men by women about this intersection of style and culture.
From the etiquette of sliding into her Twitter DM’s to what a woman really thinks about your Instagram feed, social media can feel like a minefield when it comes to dating and relationships.
Figuring out how to get a girl online to like you, so you can move from flirting in the comments to meeting up IRL, isn’t always a smooth process.
And look, how someone should act on social media isn’t really gendered. A lot of the rules about boundaries and respect online apply to all of us.
But as a woman, I know what I do and don’t like to see from guys online.
So, in this guide, you’ll find some general rules, helpful tips, and basic do’s and don’ts for how to use social media as a man in 2022.
You’ll find behaviors to avoid (the ones that are sure to give women the ick), as well as the green lights that women look for from a partner online.
Let me first make something clear:
This guide isn’t meant to help you pretend to be someone you’re not on social media.
I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you’re not a creep and/or weirdo.
Meaning? There’s nothing to hide or conceal about yourself until later when you can spring your bad behavior on an unsuspecting woman.
Instead, this is about helping you make the best impression possible online. And if along the way you realize there’s areas you maybe could be behaving differently on social media? Well, now you’ll know.
A modern man’s guide to social media:
Present yourself authentically
While you might think a perfectly curated Instagram feed attracts women, a man making a big effort with his social presence can be a turnoff.
For me, when I see that a potential suitor’s IG grid looks like a glossy magazine editorial, I think he’s trying too hard to impress me and everyone else.
Now, if you’re an artsy guy who loves curating an aesthetic, that’s one thing.
But it’s 2022, and no one even sees your feed anymore, so who cares?!
On the other hand, when I see a guy who posts silly pictures of his friends, snaps from family vacations, and photos of his dog?
That’s when I feel like I’m getting a glimpse into the life of a real person.
And a few selfies never hurt nobody! But keep them genuine and…well, cute!
Women are not impressed by the picture you snapped with Elon Musk at Fogo de Chao where you got him to pretend you were smoking imaginary blunts together.
Do not feel like you have to present the perfect, curated life on social media!
I’m not saying don’t post (though this writer makes a convincing case of just that!), but stick to content that captures your authentic life.
Treat new trends and technologies with caution
Despite what earnest essays on LinkedIn may tell you, you do not need to keep up with every single thing that happens online.
This is true from Instagram to Twitter to TikTok to..whatever the next TikTok is.
Don’t feel like you have to jump on all the latest social media trends and apps and technology.
If I find your TikTok and it’s full of choreographed dances stitched with JoJo Siwa videos? That is…very cringe to be honest.
The inverse also applies. When a social media platform no longer serves you? Get rid of it.
AKA, delete Facebook off your phone and never think of it again.
How to get her attention online, the right way
Have you considered how your online behaviors, like reacting to Instagram Stories or replying to tweets, are received by women?
If you’re wondering how to get a girl to like you by engaging with her on social media, you’ve got to keep things light and easy.
Here are a few tips to attracting a woman on social media:
When you follow a woman on social media, go ahead and like a few of her most recent posts to signal your interest.
But not more than three or four.
What you absolutely should not do, is go back three months and like 50 of her Instagram posts dating back six months (or more!).
I do not for the life of me know why men do this, but it truly gives stalker vibes.
Emoji reacting to a story, in my opinion, does not count as sliding into someone’s DM’s – it’s more like, halfway between liking a photo and a full slide.
And it can be a cute and flirty way to express that a woman looks hot in a selfie or that the meme she posted is funny.
But! I have one word for you when it comes to this mode of communication: moderation.
Don’t overdo it. If she likes you back, she’ll get the message (literally and figuratively), and engage with you.
Who you follow tells her who you are
Are you on your phone right now? Ok I want you to do something for me: go onto Instagram and open the list of accounts you’re following.
Now take a quick scroll. What would you say is the predominant demographic of the accounts you follow? Is it news? Friends? Athletes you stan an unhealthy amount? You’re doing alright then.
Or, is it mostly barely legal women in bikinis? If it’s the latter, you need to check yourself because I’m telling you right now: that girl you’re talking to – she already knows, and she’s not liking what she’s seeing.
Ditto goes for apps like TikTok – your algorithm will tell on you, so if we scroll through your FYP and see a bunch of thirst trap videos, there’s no denying what you’re using the app for.
Every time I’ve dated a man, I’ve perused who he’s following on Instagram. And I don’t know a single woman who doesn’t do this.
We also will tap through to a few of them to notice if you’re regularly interacting with their content because this also gives us some clues about the kind of guy you are. Are you liking every selfie but none of her pictures with family and friends? Are you commenting with the fire emoji?
I’m not saying you shouldn’t follow any accounts that get you hot and bothered – I follow Senator Whitehouse of Rhode Island, and I don’t want to be a hypocrite – but cap it at a minority of your list.
And I’m not giving you this advice so you can manipulate your Instagram to look like you’re a good guy.
I’m suggesting that if you look at your online and engagement and realize this is you, then it may be time to reconsider how and why you’re using social media.
Don’t be a reply guy
If your primary activity on social media – particularly Twitter – is replying to other women’s tweets? That’s not great.
And this is true whether your online engagement is meant to be flirtatious or insulting.
Let’s start with the latter, which is obviously way worse.
If you are the kind of guy who is in Mina Kimes’ mentions on the daily telling her why her opinion on the LA Chargers offense is idiotic, log off immediately.
If, on the other hand, you’re @’ing Chrissy Tiegen on the regular thinking that…I don’t even know, your witty reply will somehow woo her away from John Legend?
That’s also not the best look.
The no-brainer tl;dr? If you want to attract women online, engage online with all women with respect.
Stay consistent in your social interactions
Not everyone has the same level of social media activity.
Some people like all their partner’s Instagram posts. Others don’t follow their own spouse on social media.
What matters is that you’re upfront with a woman in how you behave online, and don’t stray too far from it.
Let me give you an example: if you’re liking every single picture she posts when you two start talking? Don’t stop liking those pictures all of a sudden a month into dating. It will give off confusing
If you never like her pictures? That’s also fine, but maybe let her know early on that you’re just not that online.
Share things online that let her know you listen and pay attention
Anytime a man sends me a meme or article that calls back to a conversation we’ve had, it makes me really happy.
Maybe you talked about traveling to a certain place, and you send her a reel of the best beaches there.
Or she told you she really loves a certain kind of animal and you send her some dorky cute video with them.
These small gestures are super wholesome and sweet and failsafe in attracting women.
Get on the same page about how public or private you want to be
Soft launch, hard launch, Instagram official, offline boyfriend – there are many different scenarios when it comes to sharing about your relationship on social media and everyone has a different comfort level about how much of their romantic life is out there for the world to see.
Take me for instance. You will never see the face or know the name of the guy I’m going out with until we’re… I don’t know? Dying next to one another, á la The Notebook?
For someone who writes about sex and intimacy on the internet, I’m incredibly private about my actual dating life and I like my partners to be the same way.
Once, this guy I had only started talking to casually for a few weeks commented flirtatiously on a picture of mine, and I personally am still recovering from the exposure.
Granted, not everyone is as private as I am!
I have friends who post their partners after a few months of dating, and that’s what makes them happy.
The most important thing is that you two agree on what feels right and what’s respectful of each other’s boundaries and comfort level.
Social media is not the place to air dating and relationship grievances
Subtweeting a woman you’ve dated or been in a relationship with – just don’t do it.
I once dated a stand up comedian (I know, I KNOW) and after we spent our first night together, he tweeted something like, “I filled my body pillow with bones.”
Which was both not funny and a very weird thing to read knowing it was in reference to me!
If you have something to say about your relationship or the woman you’re dating – say it to her, don’t tweet something cryptic, or post about her without her knowledge or consent.
This is immature and will absolutely lead to the end of the relationship before it even gets off the ground.
How to slide into a woman’s DM’s
Finally, onto the most important question when trying to figure out how to get a girl online to like you:
How do I politely, respectfully, and successfully slide into her DM’s?
Figuring out how to text a girl you like, or how to talk to a girl over text is difficult enough. Adding in the powder keg of social media?
It can be even trickier.
Honestly, there’s no completely failsafe way to do this. Successfully sliding into a woman’s DM’s involves a cocktail of a number of things – timing, approach, and most importantly – mutual interest.
The former which you can control, the latter you cannot.
Assuming you don’t already know this woman, don’t slide the second you follow each other. Give it a day or two to like each other’s pics and develop a little familiarity.
On the other hand, if it’s someone you met out at a bar, for example, and you swapped instas to stay in touch, send her a DM the next day so she knows you’re thinking about her.
Another note on timing?
Once you open the conversation – if she replies – reply back in a reasonable amount of time.
Nothing is more aggravating than a man sliding into my DM’s only to leave me on read for a day.
WHAT TO SAY
There are a number of methods to opening a DM conversation; replying to her story is always an easy way to initiate – it can feel less clunky and awkward than just sending a DM out of the blue and it can help by giving you something to talk about as well.
If you take this approach, an emoji reaction is absolutely not sufficient – your story reply should be a message.
Also be thoughtful about what story you reply to because this will set the tone for the conversation; a thirst trap reply will likely come off as spicy and sexy; replying to a picture of her dog, a travel pic etc. will come off as more wholesome – more “get to know ya” vibes.
And it’s not that one is better than the other, it’s just all about making sure your intent matches up with the vibes you’re putting out there.
Just consider if you’re using the DM’s to get a girlfriend vs. a casual hookup.
Still, I wouldn’t knock just a straight up cold open DM – and you can reference something she posted recently to show that you’re paying attention.
Think something like “Hey, I just wanted to say you seem really really cool, and I think you’re super attractive – I loved that beach pic you posted yesterday, I’ve been dying to check that spot out! How was it?”
See what I did there? Respectful, polite, and ended with a question to start the conversation.
INTERPRETING HER RESPONSE
A lot of being a woman online is navigating how to interact with men while also not getting killed or stalked. Fun, right?
We’re constantly balancing how much to say, how much to share, and how nice to be to send the right message. If a woman is keeping the conversation going and asking you questions back, chances are you successfully slid into those DM’s! Congrats.
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If she is sending back one word answers or simply liking your messages without replying, she is probably trying to politely let you know she’s not interested.
In this situation, don’t press it.
If for some reason she was just busy or preoccupied, she’ll come back around and message you again, but pestering her with more DM’s will only make you come off even worse.
And this should go without saying but, if she leaves you on read from the start?
Chances are she’s really not interested.
But remember, that critical part of a relationship spark – mutual interest – is not in your control, so don’t take this personally.
And do not send a follow up message with anything snarky. I cannot tell you how fast I have blocked men who slide into my DM’s and then follow up with something like “well guess that’s that” when I don’t reply. Truly, lightning speed.
Want more insider dating and relationship takes from Team SG? We’ve got you covered!