- Ruby Digital
- About Us
- Industry Insights
- Contact Us
Etiquette is more than where you put your fork.
By: Kate Crockett, Marketing and Social Media Director
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
These are all things we learned as children, and they still have meaning today, though the thought that you shouldn’t say anything disrespectful is a broad-brush view. Criticism — even constructive criticism — sometimes doesn’t seem “nice.” But thinking before you speak has always been a hallmark of business communication, and today this means that you also should think before hitting “publish,” “send” or “print.”
In a haste to get content out into the social space, many organizations are not taking the time to read what they write through the eyes of others before sending it out for mass consumption. This is a huge mistake. Etiquette is as important in social media as it is at a business meeting — maybe even more so. At a business meeting you have the added luxury of voice intonation and inflection, which provides the audience with the context for your sarcasm or light-hearted joking. These things don’t always translate well in a 140-character post, and most times fall flat or even backfire in such a limited space.
Social media communication is like any other form of communication. It is not what you say or your intent that matters. What matters is how your audience interprets your message. The saying goes that there are three sides to every story — my side, your side and the truth — and the only side that matters is your side. Remember that on the other end of that “post” button are flesh-and-blood humans, and they have their own frame of reference through which they are digesting your words. Every number on your friend or follower list corresponds to a human being, with his or her own narrative and set of feelings. Remember to take that into consideration when posting.
The use of the cocktail party analogy for social media has been used many times in books published on the subject, and it's a good analogy to keep in mind. Before you click “post,” ask yourself this question: “If I were standing in a room with all those on my friend/follower list, would I say this out loud to them?” If you wouldn't, or if you would really have to think about it, then you shouldn’t post it online.
This is not to say that you should censor yourself or not inject your personality into what you post. Instead, I’m suggesting that you be smart and considerate — talk about others the way you’d want people to talk about you. It’s just pure common sense, and it seems to be lacking in some areas of social media these days.
If you are just venturing into social media, you might want to keep these 10 commandments of social media handy, the article is not all inclusive of what you need to know but it is a great start.
Do you agree or disagree that we’ve lost some of our manners in social media?