Etiquette, not a word you'll hear very often these days and there may even be those of you out there who don't know what it means ...
Etiquette - the customary code of polite behaviour in society or among members of a particular profession or group.
In today's world of online and social media it seems that people have forgotten that there is a world beyond the computer or tablet screen and that their actions impact others, positively or negatively. Much of this comes about because we see online communication as something that should be done and finished with as quickly as possible. I couldn't agree more, but the other problem is that people are not seeing their postings in the same way that others are seeing them.
What on earth has etiquette got to do with online media? As I've mentioned the issue is that we don't see our communication in the same way that others see it and we forget that when we are looking at a computer screen that there is a real person on the other side of your message(s). It's easy to forget in today's world of 'I come first' that there are other people too. I see this all to often in marketing messages where the message going out to any number of potential clients may well be misconstrued. We forget that our mood, emotions, feelings, tenor and tone are not conveyed in the same way online, they are seen as words and translated by the person on the other side dependent on their mood, feelings, etc. One of the primary reasons why emoticons have become so popular to inflect the right type of meaning into the singular dimension of words.
So in practicality what am I referring to when I talk about online etiquette, I'll start with the basics and then I'll give a few brief points on some of the main online platforms
- Hi how are you, please and thank you never go out of vogue. While online communication is very direct these days, remember there is a real live person on the other side of your communication. This is especially relevant when you're asking someone for something. I get various requests from people about a number of things and it tells me a lot about the person (and whether I want to continue to deal with them) based on the level of courtesy they extend to me. Before you launch into your message or request take a moment to see if you can inject more of your person and courtesy into it.
- Social Media platforms are not market places, they are SOCIAL MEDIA, that means social first and selling second. Frequently the 80/20 rule is used - 80% informative, entertaining and social and 20% marketing and sales.
- If you're looking for 'love' in likes and shares and followers be sure to be generous about giving love too. Like and share posts for others, follow them and like their pages, remember you can't expect people to do for you what you won't do for them.
- The person(s) running a successful page or group have probably worked pretty hard at it and they are not in any way obliged to allow you to post, especially promotions, on their page/group. Before posting on any page or group read the ABOUT section, this will tell you what is accepted and what is not. If your post is deleted if it infringes these terms, you can't complain!
- You have a post or promotion and you're going to post it today ... don't post/share it on every page and group that you can find in the next 15 minutes! Why not?? Firstly the people you know will see it from your personal page, they are probably also going to see it as they have liked your page/group and several of the groups that you are connected to. What does that mean ... we get to see your post on our newsfeed several times, it's like spam for the viewer, the same post, with the same information, over and over and over and over and over and ... you get the impression ! Use the Facebook scheduler on your pages to post at different times, use HootSuite or a similar tool to post or just post with some hours or days in between. The benefit of doing this is that you will also get a greater reach on your post as you will be reaching different people at different times.
- Don't hijack other people's posts. There is nothing more annoying that posting something for sale or a promotion only to have someone promote their product/service in the comments section of the post. If you so desperately must contact the person just send them a personal message, it is more discreet and polite.
- When posting out your blog, promotion, event or article plan to schedule these across days or at the least times rather than blasting it all out at one time. It means people also linked to those places will see your post several times in their newsfeed (and it is annoying), worse those not online are unlikely to see it at all. It has also come to the attention of Facebook and they have adapted their algorithm to penalise such behaviour, a certain reason not to do it.
- I have to add one pet favourite of mine ... hijacking other people's posts to promote your business, product or service. I have this with my blogs when they are posted on some of the groups I manage and as I use my blogs as an information medium rather than a sale's statement there is always some fool willing to use my hard work to promote themselves ... not doing themselves any favours is my polite word on this.
- The home of the hashtag #. Firstly if you don't know what it does or means DON'T USE IT! I always have to smile when I see the most innane # that truly will never feature your post or be so obsurce that no one (except possibly you) will ever search for it. My last word on the # ... rule of thumb 5 is good 15+ is just ignorant.
- Twitter is not Facebook, don't share your breakfast, shower or the flowers on it, no one cares and it could cost you followers.
- If you want people to retweet you, don't use all of the 140 characters.
- Over-posting will again lose you followers, just as never posting will.
- Again, Instagram isn't Facebook ... keep your food, selfies, etc off this channel.
- Re-posting someone elses image is only fine if you credit them or ask!
- LinkedIn is a professional social media network and you will be judged when you're not being professional ... again it isn't Facebook, food, selfies and your favourite gif are not going to do you any favours.
- Don't send messages to everyone in your contact list or even to 50 people, especially if you have a request ... every time someone replies everyone on the list gets messages, it's annoying and you'll just get people leaving the conversation. If you must copy the message and personalise it, you'll get a much better response.
- Don't ask someone who hasn't encountered you professionally for a referral or endorsement and by the same measure don't give them unless you know the person. It is unprofessional and reduces the meaning of such referrals and endorsements. Better a heartfelt referral than an empty one.
In closing I'll just say that if you're looking for your social media presence to be more effective consider what and how you are conducting it.
Here's a video by HootSuite which outlines some additional areas of etiquette