Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Online Communication Etiquette…what are the rules?

I got an email last week from a girlfriend that was also cc'd in to a few other sad individuals that's subject line read – To all of my friends who are NOT on Facebook!…a clear message if ever there was one with more than a slight hint of chastisement. BLESS CAPS AND EXCLAMATION MARKS IN EMAIL! Ooh did I say that too loud?

An invitation to a party that everyone else had received prior and we were the sad wee dregs, not able to be reached via the global monster…I certainly hope all 800 million users won't be there. It made me think (for about 5 seconds), what invitations have we potentially missed….weddings (have I noticed any rings on fingers lately?), product launches, baby christenings, birthdays, funerals…a personal invite from Hugh to the Playboy mansion.

So, what does a world look like with no personal contact…
Hi everyone! Just a quick note let you all know the weddings off, Jason was shagging the nanny.
The baby's arrived! A girl named Lequitia, she weighed in at 5kgs, has an extra digit on here left foot and she tore mum end to end.
I'd like to let you all know that Dad died last night in his sleep…bless, check out the photos of our trip to Rarotonga!

Communication, that informs and updates friends of events and then neglects them dreadfully, in the very same moment.

So what is online etiquette? What are the boundaries of what is to be shared online via an email, text or Facebook and what is worthy of…surely not…really…picking up the telephone and having an actual conversation with someone. I've made a list of the ones that possibly need some URGENT attention -
  • The baby's arrived and all related details – for extended contacts it's obvious that a txt alert is appropriate and photos shared on Facebook – family and close friends should also get the courtesy of a phone call. A smidgen of your time, in return for an abundance of flowers and baby wear only seems fair.
  • A family member or close friend is dead – do I even need to put this one into a bullet point!? Possible exception – boy racers who require a tribute page because, all of a sudden "everyone new him and he was amaaaaaazing".
  • We're having a party! – Mx it up across the channels, if you are over 25, it's likely that email, Facebook, txt, phone or heaven forbid…a hand written invite (more applicable for the Grandees).
  • Canceling anything on the day….if this is work related and you are positive that there is no investment in your attendance, an email or text may suffice. Think about this though, if it's a dinner or event that someone has paid for your attendance, pick up the phone to apologize formally. NB. If this is a client supplier relationship and not handled personally…I'd suggest you're committing relationship suicide. Important Note - If this is a canceling a dinner date or similar, with mates, it wreaks of getting a better offer.
  • We're getting a divorce – another one that fits into etiquette 101. Unless this is a celebration of sorts and everyone expects it, you may actually find that some of your friends are upset and some personal contact is required.
  • Sorry…you didn't get the job – again this seems ridiculous, but any conversation involving a set of balls is being abused by a cowardly email or text message.
  • The final point is dedicated to all of the rude and clueless text addicts out there that choose the following times to read and respond to texts – any shared meal times, when you are having a conversation with someone (you could even attempt to make eye contact as a real challenge), all day at work when someone is paying you to be there, during any formal ceremony, driving any sort of vehicle or machinery and finally, at any time when a collision may occur with an innocent bystander.
There are bound to be a heap more that I can't think of on the fly, but you get the picture.

My advice on online comms etiquette is similar to what I'd suggest to an online marketer, which is quite simply, be where your friends and customers are. Put yourself in the shoes of the recipient, if you have to question in your head if it's right, it's likely not. Remember your manners and don't expect your friends and customers to be where you are or want them to be and mix it up based upon how they like being spoken to….if that’s too confusing for you…ask them.

Join the Mobile/Online Etiquette Resistance…cammo's optional.


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