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Gini Dietrich

The 10 Commandments of Online Etiquette

By: Gini Dietrich | July 23, 2015 | 
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Online EtiquetteBy Gini Dietrich

How many of you love to receive spam email?

How about when you meet someone and they automatically add your to their newsletter list?

And how many of you love to get information that talks all about the sender and tells you nothing valuable?

How often do you unsubscribe to email lists and newsletters or click “junk” so they don’t hit your inbox at all?

How many of you know organizations that push their messages via the social networks, but don’t use it to engage, network, or build community?

I’d venture to guess every one of you.

If you are right with me—you hate this stuff—I want to know why you do this to others when you get behind your computer at work.

Some Examples

I ask these questions when I speak, particularly when I do three or four hour workshops. It allows us to dig deep into why people do this at work, but hate it as a consumer or buyer.

A couple of years ago, I did some research on different programs for a CRM for a client.

I spoke to five different companies.

Of the five, three added me to their newsletter list without my permission. Simply because I called looking for additional information.

I’ve received emails from companies telling me they’ve added me to their email distribution list and to let them know if that’s not OK.

These are not typically companies I’ve ever communicated with…and why would someone want to add me to their list if I’m not a potential buyer?

I’m sure this is a sales technique of some sort. Maybe it’s to see if I check my email and, if I respond (even if it’s to say no, it’s not OK they added me to their list), they know it’s a viable email address.

And, last night, my friend Abbie Fink’s Facebook status was:

I find it ironic that I would get an unwanted email from a vendor introducing me to their “latest and greatest” app to remove me from unwanted email lists.

Why do all of us hate this, but a good majority of us use this tactic, when it comes to online marketing?

The 10 Commandments of Online Etiquette

Perhaps there isn’t a one-size-fits-all equation and maybe you’re focused simply on numbers instead of conversions, but I’d like to think there is some online etiquette we all should consider.

Therefore, I have created the 10 Commandments of online etiquette.

  1. Thou shalt not add anyone to your newsletter list without their consent.
  2. Thou shalt not send a LinkedIn invite that says, “I’d like to add you to my professional network.”
  3. Thou shalt not post your news releases as blog posts.
  4. Thou shalt not talk about yourselves in your communications.
  5. Thou shalt not use your Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn accounts as news feeds for your organization.
  6. Thou shalt not create newsletters that talk about how great you, your leadership, your products, or your services are without putting them in context of the buyer.
  7. Thou shalt not build lists, fans, followers, connections, or circles just for the sake of numbers.
  8. Thou shalt not abuse your online power.
  9. Thou shalt not email bloggers, journalists, influencers, or target audiences without doing your research, building a relationship, and giving them something of value … to them, not you.
  10. Thou shalt not engage in black hat email marketing.

What else would you add?

image credit: Shutterstock

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

186 comments
3HatsComm
3HatsComm

Last night I wanted to mark a LI email as spam but no, app doesn't give you that option (like it still doesn't let you personalize the invite). Amazing to me that platforms haven't fixed these issues. 

scrolling down, seeing my old comment.. yup, still true. So a la @AbbieF FB comment, I must add variants of 'walk your talk' or 'practice what you preach.' FWIW.

KensViews
KensViews

@3HatsComm I'm the king of marking sell-y LI messages as such. I thought you could mark any message as "spam," "should be in promotion" or "not appropriate".  If they don't offer the "spam" option, why not go for "not appropriate"....because it's not!  (Maybe one can do so for Group postings, but not mail/messages?)

3HatsComm
3HatsComm

@KensViews I did, I marked it as spam (or maybe it was solicitation?) on the web, I just don't see that option on the mobile apps. Could be me, that I can't find it but then, I know the apps default send the generic invite w/out giving the option. Made that mistake before, why I rarely use LI on my phone or iPad.

mercyanneg
mercyanneg

Gini, you're my hero! Thanks for breathing some fresh air into this rather... sinful topic. I really dislike the spam and irrelevant information some organizations send me. Although, shamefully, I have to admit my organization is guilty of breaking some of these commandments but we're slowly getting to know the importance of "being human" on social media and getting away from the robotic sales voice! 

Another commandment to add is: "Thou shall not overdue the memes and cat videos."

Anyone know of a handy tool to unsubscribe to many lists at once? My personal email is getting a little crazy...

biggreenpen
biggreenpen

On the LinkedIn, I wish there was some additional option when sending a request. For example, if someone is featured in the Inquisition and they provide their social media profiles, knowing that we readers will be encouraged to connect with them, I kind of figure by virtue of agreeing to be featured, and providing the profile info, they are open to us connecting with them. If it's a FB personal page, I don't always connect, especially if I have had very little interaction with them. But LinkedIn seems logical -- we're all here to talk about communications & learn from one another. But it's artificial to just go with "I'd like to add you to my professional network" and there isn't really another category that works (except for the one that asks for the email address) which I don't have. I usually throw in a "connecting via Spin Sucks" but it still feels odd. Long way of saying: what do you recommend instead ..... customizing? Or getting to know them via other channels first? /

KensViews
KensViews

@biggreenpen I customize every LinkedIn invitation I send, even if I'm pretty sure I think the person knows who I am.  I find it tough to do so with the 300 word limit, but I find a way. 

biggreenpen
biggreenpen

@KensViews @biggreenpen Makes sense. I just wish there were some funky in between like "I learned about you through a great blog I follow and I promise I'm not a weird stalker, just want to professionally be in touch." :-)

KensViews
KensViews

 @biggreenpen  Not quite sure what you mean by "in between".  Just click on "Send a personalized invitation" (or whatever it actually says there) and personalize away.  If you sent me a message like the one you shared above, I'd accept it!

biggreenpen
biggreenpen

@ginidietrich @biggreenpen @KensViews yeah --- I don't think I explained my question well (and I definitely didn't mean "The LinkedIn" as if it were "The Twitters" :-). What I mean is: yes, it is possible to personalize a request and I do that --- but there's not a good way to say " I ran across you via social media connections we both trust." I usually say "we did business together" and list the business connection as the fact that I am a blogger ..... but "friend" seems artificially familiar and "other" requires you to know their email address. 

AbbieF
AbbieF

And when I'm feeling particularly feisty, I will respond to the email and see what happens. Inevitably, no follow-up response.  If you took the time to send me something and I actually respond, wouldn't it be advisable to then engage with me?

KensViews
KensViews

I violate a variation of Commandment Five: I use Twitter to share posts and articles from others, as well as my blog, but I don't really engage there, beyond a "TU for the RT and Fav,"  I don't go to Twitter regularly and share the tweets and links of those I follow, and I should! #TrueConfessions

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

@ginidietrich @RobBiesenbach @KensViews twitter has really three uses today. 2 are like eh. And 1 is why it is the most powerful network out there. The first two are customer service. If you are responsive it works for simple questions/faqs etc. The second is the mass media monitors it so celebs, sports stars etc don't need to hold press conferences though the media is much less likely to pick up and share business news. The 3rd is it is still the only real conversation platform where you can call out anyone with an account and talk with them. Brands can't do that on facebook and instagram you can but it is weak since most businesses aren't as active there. But for professionals you can talk to anyone and that is power.

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

I love this post but curious about number 5. Because this goes beyond business. Without the major media outlets monitoring feeds social media's reach would be crippled. Think of the recent Taylor Swift/Nicki Minaj blow up. Without the press running with it no one would ever know it happened. And I think its ok to use the feeds as news dissemination channels if done properly. BUT if you do you also can't be upset people aren't responding and sharing your content. And you shouldn't have the same stuff to share all day (I hate that and quite a few major brands do this). 


I am curious what you mean by this point. Isn't news content and don't some people want news, like investors, uber fans etc? And while you posting this blog post as content isn't news...isn't posting an upcoming event news (like a webinar). Just curious what you mean by this because no one ever goes to the press/news modules on websites especially consumers.

RobBiesenbach
RobBiesenbach

I'm confused about these older posts being reposted — I'm sure I missed the memo about this? But I have a story. 

A conference planner emailed me, saying she noticed I attended a recent conference on employee engagement and perhaps I'd be interested in registering for this other conference on employee engagement.

I politely replied that I wasn't attending, but speaking, at that conference, it was really well received, and her audience might like to see me on their agenda as well.

No reply, but I was added to the company's email marketing list urging me to register for that and other future conferences.

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

@RobBiesenbach I just unfollowed Jeff Bullas and muted him on Twitter. Most of the posts he shares are over a year old sometimes 3 years old and they are old ideas that today you can toss out the window. @ginidietrich wrote once about creating timeless content and if it is timeless I am ok with the repost. The problem is usually timeless content is truly timeless...meaning you can find it going back hundreds of years as timeless. For example if I write a post about why customer service is important. I bet I can find something from the 1940s about that.

RobBiesenbach
RobBiesenbach

@Howie Goldfarb @ginidietrich I've got no problem with it, and it is timeless. Just curious about the strategy. I see a new SpinSucks post in my feed, follow the link and there are already 150+ comments! Then I see it was an earlier post, but dated today?

Anyway, I agree about timelessness. Someone in an online discussion once proclaimed that she doesn't ready any business books that are more than a year old. Really? REALLY? 

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@RobBiesenbach OMG. What is wrong with people!? Seriously. There is a book out that talks about doing this. It has terrible reviews, but executives buy it and read it and then tell their teams to do this. It makes me crazy.


As for the older posts, I'm testing something because summer is slow and I want to see if my gut is right. :-)

CITRAPUTRI_
CITRAPUTRI_

Festival Raja Ampat 2012, Waisai, 18-21 Oktober 2012 @TourRajaAmpat @FortuneID @spinsucks #rajaampat

3HatsComm
3HatsComm

How many more you want? NO seriously? How many?!

 

- Thou shalt not auto-DM. Ever.- Thou shalt not pretend an announcement for a book tour or webinar is 'content.' 

- Thou shalt say NO to popups.

- Thou shalt not speak of 'social' and engagement whilst never leaving your own blog, ignoring the unwashed masses who don't have the *gack* Klout.

- Thou shalt not play hashtag bingo with tweets.

 

Damn, wish I'd seen this sooner, I coulda added so, so many more. FWIW.

OasisEventsIndy
OasisEventsIndy

@kyleplacy Everyone who ever uses the internet needs to read this!

dokker_miami
dokker_miami

@kyleplacy @ginidietrich It's all about being relevant and creating a relationship based on trust. Trusting the source is key. #expertise

susansilver
susansilver

Yes, Yes, Yes.

 

I get frustrated with clients that do not understand that you cannot add people to lists without permission. I had to bring this one up with one recently. I finally got them to move their list to Mail Chimp where it is easy to set up the opt-in method for new subscribers. Which is converting a heck of a lot better.

write4unj
write4unj

Excellent! A few of my pet peeves:

 

1.) if you do add me to your e-mail list, don't just have somewhere for me to unsubscribe, make it easy for me to change the e-mail address that you send to (so I can get your newsletter out of my primary business e-mail address and into the secondary one set up to receive newsletters, etc.).

 

2.) If you send me a LinkedIn connection and we share a group, use that as your introduction, don't say you're my "friend" when I don't actually know you.

 

3.) If you want me to respect you as an online, marketing expert, do not have an AOL contact e-mail address.

LeighBordelon
LeighBordelon

Thou shalt not ask me to "like" your page when it's BLANK. 

Britopian
Britopian

@ant0ineh me too. several ... : )

rdopping
rdopping

Crap! As a casual blogger this list is daunting. I am sure I have violated some of these in some way. Live and learn. So, uh, thanks.

 

No. 8 is a big, big deal because I have more that 250 twitter followers now so I have to start to watch what I do.....;-)

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

When you get pissed watch out.

 

The big thing I have an issue with is push content on social. It is OK to include some in your social media content. But if you aren't going to talk WITH me see ya,

 

As for email stuff I have blogged that we get so much it is all spam. We signed up for most of it bit we get so much it looks like spam. So you had better stand out from the crowd.

 

But number 7 hehehehe

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