Written by Kirsten Macdonald
If you are in business you most likely know how important it is to have a thriving digital presence, but what about internet etiquette and ethics?
How we behave online greatly reflects our business but it can also flow through to our personal lives causing extreme stress and discomfort for workplace colleagues and reputation.
How often have you heard horror stories about a brand’s customer service? Happens more than you think. Social media is the playground for human dynamics to play out, and like all playgrounds it isn’t always nice.
Human behavior and reputation management go hand in hand, so it pays to know your audience well!
Being a good digital citizen helps know who you are; and it also helps you to protect and maintain your integrity. This is as crucial as having a brick-and-mortar retail store in a prominent position, front and centre on the main street with wonderful foot traffic passing by and cleancut employees who know what to say, how to say it, and have etiquette oozing from their every action.
So how can one be a good digital citizen? How do you, as a business, use technology appropriately and responsibly—be it on social media, e-mails, or more?
1. Keep exchanges legal and legitimate.
2. Maintain a professional and courteous demeanor around the clock.
3. Maintain a positive tone and attitude.
4. Avoid poor spelling, punctuation, grammar, and be careful with your choice of words.
5. Keep in mind that while we are using a computer to converse, there are real people on the other end.
6. Always ensure you have permissions in place for images and reference where you get your information from! Just because its online, doesn’t mean you can take it without permission.
7. Use phone calls when necessary to avoid mishaps in tone and assumptions.
8. Avoid spammy over-promotion. Create content that is useful to customers and be authentic without being offensive!
9. Authenticity is the queen of making connections online, fake isn’t nice in real life and it doesn’t translate well online either!
10. Don’t use marketing as a means to throw shade to competitors. Keep personal opinions out of it, you might think cats suck but your business place online is not the place to put it.
11. Do not tolerate offensive, bigoted and derogatory remarks from people on your pages. Be very aware of who is posting and have some firm boundaries in place! Turn the notification settings on so you know when someone has commented or ensure the person looking after your social media is being alerted!
12. Use negative commentary or reviews as an opportunity to show people how you respond to feedback. Polite, positive language helps and a commitment to show you are trying to solve the problem.
13. Deleting reviews are harder than ever and not clever. If people see you doing this they question your motives, so use it as an opportunity, they are always there. Prepare statements and keep them on file so you have a template of responses. Proactive is always the best policy!
14. Everyone working for you visibly represents your business online and on social media. This is important to remember, whether they are actual employees, subcontractors, or brand ambassadors. Have a social media policy in place for your team! Never abuse, always engage wisdom and more importantly remember; if people have you showing up on their news feed you are a part of their day, so try and be the best part of it, not the mundane.
15. Be inclusive, always. Use inclusive language and make sure diversification is a part of your brand. Give extra!
Virtual impressions matter as much as in-person first impressions. Bad experiences can stay with a customer forever, losing you business. Creating a positive digital footprint can be done quite simply if you have the right tools and mindset. Being a good digital citizen in business is not necessary – it’s crucial.
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