A friend recently broadcasted my political affiliation in a blog post. His intentions were benign and innocent, yet it offended me for several reasons. For one, my beliefs, including my political opinions, are my own personal information; private and exclusive to only me. In other words, no one, no one, has the right to publish or broadcast personal information like this for any reason, anywhere, and at any time, without my explicit permission. Another reason it offended me was that this post was shared on the Internet. In my mind that means, searchable/findable/downloadable anywhere, any time, and by anyone; synonymous with my name and carrying an extended existence even beyond a simple delete. Lastly, I was upset as it potentially opened up immediate judgment and subsequent consequences from others; friends, strangers, business associates, future employers, clients, family, etc. who agree/disagree and/or are so compelled to comment, seek me out and start an unwanted discussion which should be kept, did I mention, private, and shared only at my own discretion. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate different views and healthy debate but when judgments are cast, especially without defending context, the results can be downright damaging (i.e. lost sales and investment, closed off personal relationships and boycotted products/services). Sure, that might sound dramatic to most but it is our new communications reality and should be taken very seriously as a business owner, entrepreneur or professional.
Social Media Etiquette
There’s no mistaking that social media has changed how and what we communicate with each other and about each other. For personal good, it has brought many closer together, more informed, and more socially engaged. For business, it has opened the doors for communicating with key constituents more efficiently and effectively, as in the case of viral networking and circles of influence. However, proper etiquette among social media users is still far from perfect. More importantly, sensitivities to the types of content that is broadcast, has been lost, in my opinion, as illustrated in my own personal case above.
With regards to email marketing (back in the day), someone once suggested to me “If you are not comfortable with a message you’re about to send, living on as a bona fide paper trail, don’t send it.” Easier said than done, especially when emotions are involved. Add to that the new immediacy of and access to social media whereby someone can broadcast a message on the spot with their mobile device, and the potential for broadcast hysteria and paranoia, is amplified.
As a base line, I try to subscribe to the Golden Rule for social media etiquette. Simply stated, “Do unto others as you would have done unto you.” In other words, if there’s any question about a post, tweet, Flickr/Pinterest image or YouTube video that could potentially damage the reputation or suggest an uncomfortable consequence for another with the most scrutinizing standards – not to mention yourself – “don’t do it.” Following are some other basic guidelines to live by on social media. It’s advised that this list be shared among employees and those close to you so there is never any question.
- Use common sense. Always.
- Never post when you’re overly-tired, jet lagged, intoxicated, angry or upset.
- Keep business and personal accounts, profiles and their respective posts, separate.
- Be sure employees who post about your company distinguish their opinions as their own and not the company’s.
- Limit posts. Be smart about the frequency and content of your posts. Also, don’t post just for posting’s sake. Be sure to always post value.
- Be genuine. Be polite. Be courteous. Be honest.
- Do not share information that isn’t meant to be public.
These might all seem pretty clear and straightoforward, however, by posting them amongst employees could have a great impact on your business; for the better.
The Flip Side
Social media influence can be beneficial for your business. Standard business networking rules apply (this is not rocket science). Just as you might smile at someone in a crowded room and you’re likely to get a smile back, like/follow/add a fellow business or colleague. Support a friend or business colleague with a complimentary review and it may come back to you. Refer your friends and others within your network and you may expect the same to take hold for you and your business. You might be surprised with the results.
About the Author
Angelo Biasi is General Manager of SMART Marketing Solutions, LLC, a leading full-service integrated marketing company in Florida and New York since 2001. He has helped create and execute marketing plans and integrated marketing solutions for companies such as Playtex, Bic, Rogaine, Tauck, and over 35 colleges and universities, to name a few. Angelo has an MBA in Marketing from the University of Connecticut and teaches Marketing at New York University where he has for over six years. He has been quoted and/or featured in USA Today, Mobile Marketer magazine, Mobile Commerce Daily, Luxury Marketing magazine, BNET TV and Business Currents magazine, to name a few. For more information or to learn more, email him at abiasismartmarketingllccom (abiasismartmarketingllccom) , visit www.smartmarketingllc.com, call him at 239.963.9396 and follow him on Twitter @angbiasi.