As we move further into the future, we are finding more ways to communicate without actually speaking face to face. We text, tweet, email, blog, pin and post. These new ways of communicating bring a great responsibility for maintaining our professionalism and proper etiquette.
Website & Blog Etiquette
- Avoid negative posts. Your name and face are directly associated with your company. Negative posts or complaining about people, customers, or other businesses can rub people the wrong way and affect your sales. Customers want to do business with people they like, and it’s much easier to affiliate with a company that’s positive than one that comes off as being critical.
- Pick URLs/usernames that are relevant to your business. Unless your family name is associated with the name of your business, any online titles you choose as a domain or username should be business-related. This enables you to increase your company’s ranking in Google search results (also known as search engine marketing), and allows you to keep your online personal identity separate from your business. It’s also a good way to build your brand and increase your company’s profile.
- Tone down the language. A blog is an excellent way to let your personality shine through to your readers. You don’t need a formal tone to let your readers know you are to be taken seriously; however, you should avoid using inappropriate language. Slang and swear words can turn off prospective customers. You can still maintain an upbeat tone, but keep the language professional.
- Respect others’ opinions. Having a business blog is a great way to communicate your expertise. However, there is always a chance that you may encounter some naysayers and instigators. Whichever way you choose to deal with these types of people, it is important to consider how this can affect your business and its reputation. Dealing with difficult situations appropriately shows your commitment to customer service. Often, a brief response indicating that you acknowledge their point of view may be enough to satisfy them. If it’s a legitimate complaint, continue the conversation offline and reach out to them to find out why they are upset. Harmful or offensive comments can damage your brand and should not be tolerated. Make sure you approve all comments before they are posted and consider blocking repeat offenders from returning to your webpage.
- Use the right tone. Conveying your tone through words can be challenging. A period instead of an exclamation mark can come across as being annoyed or unexcited. Using all capitals comes across as shouting at your reader. Finishing your sentences with three periods instead of one can convey uncertainty. Using proper punctuation, positive words, and complete sentences will ensure that the appropriate tone always comes across.
- Avoid ‘netspeak’. Netspeak, or chatspeak, has cut down on sending long messages. We are used to using ‘u’ instead of ‘you’, and ‘lol’ (laugh out loud) to let someone know you find something funny, and ‘tbh’ for ‘to be honest’. The list goes on. For business emails, there are other ways to convey a fun tone without sacrificing the use of complete words. Leave netspeak at the door. Remember, you need to be as professional as possible when you are communicating on behalf of your business.
- Test for clarity. When rereading or editing something you’ve written, you should read it out loud to hear how it sounds. Doing this allows you to identify run-on sentences and ideas that don’t make sense. When replying to an email, make sure you have addressed all of the points of interest from their original message. For long emails, try using bullet points to organize your information.
- Email signatures. Have you ever spent time searching through emails for a phone number? Make it easy for people to reach you by applying an email signature to all outbound messages. Also, make sure spell check is turned on.
Remember that the Internet never forgets. Anything you post will be compiled into your ‘digital footprint’ and can follow you for years. Think before posting anything that could be harmful. Think about it this way: don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your clients or potential clients to read. If you receive friend requests from clients you don’t have to accept them. You have the option of changing the privacy settings on your postings, which can help keep your business and personal life separate.
Although there are many rules for posting online, don’t be afraid to continue posting. Just remember to think before you post!