One of the things we’re always asked is, “What are the rules of etiquette for the social media and online world?” It can be a confusing question because each online venue is unique in its form and functionality. Conduct deemed perfectly acceptable within Twitter can be construed quite differently on say Facebook.
There is a Wild West attitude held by many Internet users that would make the first lady of manners and etiquette Emily Post say SMH-shaking my head! Anonymous postings are often down right nasty, rude, embarrassing – and, for a brand or company, can be devastating to an otherwise sterling reputation.
There are however, certain rules of the road that apply universally. Whether you’re in cyberspace or not manners count, and just because someone can’t see you doesn’t mean they can’t hurt you.
The following is the I.R.E.S.P.E.C.T. system for online interaction. This list is intended to be a guideline that everyone can easily use when interacting online, but it is by no means comprehensive. Every situation is different and poses its own unique set of challenges. But hopefully, by keeping in mind these simple rules, we can make the web a friendlier and more productive environment for everyone.
I - Introductions Matter
Don’t jump on the friendship bandwagon without an introduction first.
If you’re looking to make friends, telling them your name and how you might know them is the least you can do.
The rule of reciprocity is as old humanity itself- If you want to get something, you have to give first.
So before you ask for a favor online make sure you’ve done something first to merit a positive response.
The reason it’s called “social media” is messages can be both sent and received.
One-way traditional communication will never be as effective as authentic human engagement and it isn’t much appreciated anyways.
Ask yourself this question before submitting anything, “Is this providing relevant content or is it just self-promotion and ego?”
A little bit of self-promotion is fine, but posting unrelated content to blogs or forums with specific topics and never contributing anything but promotional materials is annoying and not really what “social media” is about.
P- Provide Content
Less than 30% of everyone online is a power-content creator (i.e has their own blog, uploads video, owns a website and updates regularly etc) ,and the other 70% can be categorized as passive viewers or light-content creators (i.e. email and limited instant messaging)
People follow content creators because they are the ones posting answers, writing how-to articles, commenting in blogs etc. - essentially providing solutions for everyday life.
They are the thought leaders and the respect they get as such can be measured in dollars. New business deals, jobs and enhanced reputation are the rewards of a power-content creator. Source- Pew Internet & American Life Project
E- End Bad Relationships
Users who spam and provide nothing to communities aren’t the people you want to associate with. Save yourself and everyone else time in the long run by un-friending them now.
C- Control Your Image
People say things every day online that they would never utter in public or face-to-face with real individuals. What you say online though is even more important than what is said in person because there’s the potential for millions to hear your words.
T-Try to Listen More than You Speak
This might be the most important rule of them all. Listening to what people are saying, whether it be about your brand, your company or just you personally, is key to managing healthy online relationships and heading off potential problems.
While internet users are diverse in everyway, bringing varied backgrounds, customs and beliefs to their online conversations, respect for people sharing cyberspace should be the common rule. Following this simple guide would certainly make the Internet a kinder place to visit and could get the Emily Post J.