The Dirty Dozen Digital Etiquette Mistakes People Make
National Business Etiquette Week is just about over (June 1-7). Which means there’s no better time than to talk about the dirty dozen digital etiquette mistakes people make.
Most of us are masters of our own universe when we present and engage in person. However, things can change dramatically when we are online. What makes things worse is a mishap in person can be easily recovered from. Or hopefully, quickly forgotten. An online mistake can show up in searches and haunt you for years.
Business owners must be exceptional communicators, in any space. We know that. Knowing the pitfalls of online mishaps and help you avoid any embarrassing faux pas, sticky situations or worse, legal issues.
These 12 don’ts can make a big difference in how your audience views and interacts with you and your brand.
1. Think Before You Post, Publish or Send
It’s number one on Hootsuite’s list of 9 Essential Social Media Etiquette Rules for Business so we figured it should be number one here as well. We just added email into the mix.
You know the words from the song “Bad Day” by Daniel Powter …”You had a bad day. The camera don’t lie. You had a bad day…..” Guess what. The screen doesn’t lie either.
Everyone at one time has had a bad day, week or even year. Sometimes it’s hard to not let those bad feelings seep out into your messages, emails and posts.
I’ve even had a few “did I really just write that moments” myself. D’oh!
Instant messaging, texting, emails and postings are all “in-the-moment” communications. The last thing you want to do is quickly tap out a message, hit send or publish and end up with your own d’oh moment!
Regardless if you are having a bad day or not. Think about all the potentials outcomes from what you are saying before you hit the post, publish or send button. A little thought in the beginning can save you a whole lot of time in the end.
2. Not Listening
What does your audience want to hear? What do they want to know more about? If you don’t know the answers you these questions, that means you are not listening. Remember, social media is a two way conversation.
When putting up posts, avoid being too promotional and only talking about your brand. Think about including information on topics of interest.
According to HubSpot, 45% of people said that they would unfollow a brand on social media because of too much self-promotion.
That could be half your audience!
To put this into perspective, think about the last time you purchased goods from a store. Think about your in-person shopping experience. While you were meandering around pursuing the items on the shelves a sales person probably came by and asked it they could help. If you answered no, they most likely politely said I’m here if you have any questions and wandered away.
What if that salesperson kept coming back? “Can I show you this?” “Do you see that?” “Did I tell you about this feature? “If you don’t act now you may lose it?” “But wait..there’s more..!”
Aside from the instant urge to run and get a restraining order, you probably have no interest in ever shopping at that store again. Same goes for the online experience.
Always think about what your audience wants to hear and how often they want to hear it. Measuring your activity and adjusting based on the results is the optimal way to know what your audience is thinking. Make sure what you are posting adds value. Which brings us to number three.
When is enough, enough?
The amount of communications we send to our communities is a big deal.
Think about it. We read a blog post or find some interesting content on a website so we sign up for the email list. Then, bam! You get hit day after day with promotional emails. What do you do? If you’re anything like me, you disconnected.
I know my time is important. I’m sure yours is too. We just don’t have the extra time to weed through the endless emails to find the content we truly want and need to read. The same goes for your audience.
Campaign Monitor sited in their post “The surprising data about how often to send promotional emails.” that 43.9% of subscribers would like businesses to email them less often.
Emailing frequency is a big deal. Be careful you don’t accidentally annoy or offend your audience by publishing content to often. If you do, you run the risk of losing all the people you worked so hard to gain.
4. Deleting Comments
We’ve all been there. You post something on your personal or business page and you see a comment that you really wish someone didn’t make. Whatever you do, don’t delete it. Deal with it instead.
While it is much easier to hit delete then to deal with it, the damage from deleting comments can linger on for years. People will notice if you delete their comments. Delete enough of them and people will start talking somewhere else, where you have no monitoring abilities.
Regardless if you are on a personal or professional page, the person you are connected to has chosen to take part in your journey. When you delete comments you are basically sending the message that you don’t care about them and are in essence, slamming the door in their face. Which hurts.
Taking the time to either address the comment online or offline shows character. Turning a bad situation around online shows you are for real. Not everyone is going to like everything everyone says. However, allowing people to express those opinions shows how much you actually care about your community.
If you feel you absolutely have to delete a comment, have the common courtesy to address the person offline. This gives you an opportunity to discuss the situation to help prevent it from happening again. Dealing with the situation can help you save face, while keeping a relationship in tact.
5. Ignoring Comments
Deleting is one thing. Flat out ignoring is something entirely different. The definition of a conversation is an informal exchange of ideas. If there is not an exchange, well then it’s not really a conversation. Is it?
Ignoring a comment is in essence starting a conversation, then walking out of the room before listening to what anyone else has to say.
Social Media is about inviting people to join your conversation. Out of the millions of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn conversations that are happening each day, someone chose to join the conversation you started. That’s a big deal. Make sure you give them the common curiosity of responding when they have something to say back.
Regardless of your industry, someone will be regulating you. Whether if it’s the FTC, FDA, USDA of any other acronym, someone is watching. Don’t say something you can’t prove.
It’s easy to get lost in the rigorous regulatory rules. Especially in certain industries. One of of the many challenges that social media mavins face is to stay conversational while saying compliant.
If you are selling products or services in a heavily regulated industry then you will want to make sure that your whole team is on board with what not to say. This includes employees, contractors and affiliates. A simple slip can end up with hefty fines or litigation issues.
iMedia Connection covers social media compliance challenges with an in depth look at how businesses can guarantee their social media is regulation compliant. It’s worth the time to put a social media policy in place for team members, outside contractors and even affiliates to follow to maintain organizational compliance.
7. Abusing Hashtags
There’s a reason why hashtag abuse earned the number three spot on HubSpot’s Why People Unfollow Your Brand on Social Media post. Because dozen’s of hashtags end up being a distraction instead of an asset.
Don’t get me wrong. Hashtags are integral for immediately expanding the reach of your tweet or post beyond those who follow you. By adding a simple pound sign before a keyword allows your tweet or post to reach anyone interested in that hashtag phrase or keyword. Sometimes people just add too many.
Learning how to strategically use them will help promote your message, not clutter it. Buffer’s blog, “How to Use Hashtags: How Many, Best Ones, and Where to Use Them” helps sort it out.
Buffer’s Main Takeaways:
• Tweets with hashtags receive twice the engagement compared to those without hashtags.
• Tweets with one or two hashtags have a 21% higher engagement than those with three or more hashtags.
• When you use more than two hashtags, your engagement actually drops by an average of 17%.
How often do you respond to a pre drafted message? If I were to guess, probably not often at all. While it’s nice to want to send a heartfelt greeting to everyone who decides to follow you, it may not look as heartfelt as you had hoped. Especially if you are trying to sell them something in that greeting when they just started to get to know you.
Stick to using Direct Messages for what Direct Messages are for. Building connections and getting to know people. Make sure they are relevant and personal.
9. Not Keeping Your Cool
You know the ol’ cliche. If you don’t have something nice to say don’t say anything at all. That goes for digital too.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t get involved in a healthy debate, talk about your issues or question things that aren’t clear and transparent.
It just means do it in a respectful way.
This may seem like common sense. But sometimes someone may tick you off online and you just want to fire back. Do yourself a favor and don’t do it.
The bigger your audience gets the more opinions you will be opening your brand up to. It’s inevitable that someone, somewhere probably won’t like something you sell, did or said. It’s just human nature.
Keeping your cool when dealing with disgruntled and what some call “difficult” customers online will go along way to keep your reputation in tact.
10. Copyright Violation
If you are reading this post then you probably already know that content marketing is on the rise.
Which is why you are expanding your digital marketing efforts.
Content Marketing Forum created “The Ultimate List” of content marketing stats. If you haven’t up’d your content creation yet, here are a few quick takeaways that will show you why you should:
• 67% of B2B buyers rely more on content to research and make B2B purchasing decisions than they did a year ago
• 88% of B2B marketers in North America use content marketing
• 76% of marketers are increasing investment in content marketing
• 82% of marketers curate content
• More than half of banking and financial services marketers worry about trademark, copyright and citation issues.
The last two brings us to number 10 on our list. Notice that 82% of marketers are curating content. Which is perfectly fine. I do it myself. We curate content for many reasons. We do it to keep up with demand. (Creating custom content from scratch is extremely time consuming.) And, it allows us to gather multiple opinions from various thought leaders and compile a “best of” to promote to our audiences.
Take note of number five. More than half of banking and financial services marketers worry about trademark, copyright and citation issues. We really need to be careful that we are always citing our sources and giving credit where credit is due. This includes when you are using quotes, paragraph of content, and overall original ideas.
Images are different. You can’t just grab an image and give a person or company credit. Be sure you are obtaining the correct licenses from a stock photo site such as Shutterstock or iStock. Or, it the image was created by a specific artist, contact them to gain the correct permission and licenses. We can’t express enough the importance of this. A copyright or trademark infringement case be so costly it could put you out of business.
11. Not Targeting the Right Audience
Every digital platform is getting more and more crowded. Standing out in the noise is an art in itself.
We have already established that creating quality content takes time. If you have taken the time to craft the perfect post, then you should make the effort to make sure it ends up in front of the right audience. Not doing so only wastes both time and money.
Take the time to learn about your audiences content consumption habits. Then send out the right content at the perfect time on the correct platform. Not doing so makes your beautifully crafted message look like spam.
Disappearing may not be a terrible etiquette mistake. But it is a mistake. Commitment is key to building a community. Your audience wants to hear from you. They wouldn’t have signed up, followed or connected if they didn’t.
It may be time consuming to be consistent with your communications. But, if done well, the ROI on your digital efforts will eventually pay off. Happy posting!