Unfortunately for many, the answer is a resounding YES!
However, most of us have some…whatever you call it…oh, yeah, class, ethics, moral fiber, manners – etiquette.
I’m not the Dear Abby of social norms, but I’m first in line to tell you that you need to behave better on the web.
Today’s blog exercise will look at some of the rules and regulations – the etiquette – of online behavior.
We got elegance. If you ain’t got elegance, you can never ever carry it off!
“Elegance” from Hello Dolly
Consider this a checklist. The person with the most checks on their list “got elegance.”
- Never Spam: Spam has many definitions. It may include unwanted advertising, but it could also mean you have an over-enthusiastic fan leaving links in their comments on multiple articles. If you push an agenda on a blogger, you are spammy.
- Never Go Off Topic: In the blog, comment box and on social media discussions, stay on topic. You may stray a little, but if you start a new conversation, the train of conversation related to the purpose of the post is stopped. You’ve cut in line. If you take the topic off the tracks, move it to your own train line.
- Think Before Speaking: I’m sure you were told this as a child. It applies on the web. Think before you hit publish or submit. Once out there, it is hard to take back.
- It’s Easy to Train Them. It’s Harder to Untrain Them: Learn how to do it right the first time, and learn from your mistakes. We get in habits, ruts, thinking this is the right way to do it, but it might not be. Be willing and open to learning how to blog and share online the right way, the way that helps others, that serves as an example to others.
- Don’t Share TMI: Too Much Information (TMI) is the acronym for those who show off their “unmentionables” in public. While celebrities often get away with it, don’t let yours show. Know what private and personal things you should not share publicly online and how to take risks while protecting yourself online. I believe in sharing. I don’t support oversharing.
- Don’t Be a Stranger: Keep truly personal things to yourself but let yourself, your personality, your charm, wit, and wisdom shine through. Allow your readers to get to know you, to feel you, to appreciate you. The more the readers feel like they know you and are a part of your life, the more loyalty is naturally shared.
- Take the High Road: Treat people fairly with respect even when they don’t deserve it. It’s called taking the “high road.” I never understood that phrase, but I’ve come to learn that it means behaving in a way that benefits society. It’s easy to put someone down, criticize, and condemn. It is hard to forgive and accept. Choose the harder path.
- You Don’t Have to Reply to Every Comment But They Have To Believe That You Do: Early in the history of blogging, the rule was to respond to every comment, tweet, or social media post. If you have one to ten comments a day, this is manageable. If you have dozens to hundreds a day, the key is to not respond to every comment but make the readers think you do. This is an art form and skill. The key is to respond to every important comment on your site with appropriate conversational responses. The rest? Pick and choose, and say “thank you” every time. Same applies to social media. Make them think you think everyone is equally important.
- Use Appropriate Language: I can swear like a logger and truck driver combined, to use the stereotype, but I don’t use that language here. It’s not appropriate. This site reaches out to people from around the world, of all faiths, ethics, and morals. Keeping “rough” language out and professional speech, I serve all my readers. It is based upon reader expectations mixed with your personal values. If they expect you to swear and use language styled in a specific way, serve it up that way, but make the decision a choice, a professional choice.
- Write to Your Audience and For Them: Remember you are writing to a specific demographic, people who like you and enjoy what you do on the web. Write to them not at them. Write in their language, to their reading ability, to their comprehension level. Speak their lingo, the jargon of your shared common interest.
- Understand Blogging is Hard Work and a Job: Most people treat blogging like a hobby, something you do when the mood strikes, part of your creative expression. For serious bloggers, this is a job. There are rules, laws, and standards that guide your work, just as it does for other jobs. Act professional, be professional, and adhere to professional practices. Respect the job.
- Play Nice: Be nice, be kind, practice consistent acts of kindness, not random, and say thank you as often as you can.
- Serve as an Example: Honestly, I’d like to do whatever I want, whenever and wherever I want. I want to just be me, let go, not have to think about what other people think. Reality is, we all live as examples for others. Examples of how to live well and better to friends, family, co-workers, employees, neighbors, all the people we come in contact with. Think of that stranger you met once who changed your life by being better than they needed to be. That’s the example you must offer to others through your blog.
Today’s blog exercise is to check your elegance quotient for blogging and social web interactions.
Your family and peers helped you learn basic rules of behavior as you grew up. These are not skills learned once and ignored. They are practiced.
Go through the above guidelines to remind yourself of proper online behavior. There is no difference between what you do in person and online. Don’t make it different. You are working with humans online as well as off. Treat them with the respect they deserve.
Go through your site policies to ensure your policies and ethics are clearly stated, representing your integrity.
Here are some articles to help you understand more about the struggles a blogger and anyone working and communicating online need to know. Some of the articles offer a more specific list on social media etiquette practices. Some are from my Blog Struggles Article Series where I shared the hard work and challenges of blogging and living on the Internet.
- The Marketer’s Guide to Proper Social Media Etiquette
- Mean Spirited Comments and Blogging
- How NOT to Comment on Comments
- Would You Do Business With a Comment Spammer? « Lorelle on WordPress
- Blog Struggles: When Are Too Many Comments Too Many Comments? « Lorelle on WordPress
- Blog Struggles: SOBCon, Idea Whelmed, and Tell It To the Telephone Pole
- Blog Exercises: Battling Self-Doubt
- Do You Kill The Blog Conversation?
- Modern Etiquette: Social Media Do’s & Don’ts | Design*Sponge
- Social Media Etiquette: 20 Dos and Don’ts to Avoid Looking Like an Ass
- Social Media Etiquette: 5 Questions to Ask Before Posting About the News | Entrepreneur.com
- Social Media Etiquette: 12 Step Checklist – Forbes
- Technology Etiquette: How to Properly Address a Negative Online Comment
- Social Media Does Not Make Anyone Socialized
- 11 Social Media Mistakes You Don’t Even Know You’re Making
- 5 Social Media Rules All Divorcing Couples Should Follow
- Are You Minding Your (Digital) Manners?
- Ms Kane’s Guide to Social Media Etiquette » Kane Consulting
If you choose to blog about this, remember to include a hat tip link back to this post to create a trackback, or leave a properly formed link in the comments so participants can check out your blog exercise task.