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Online Etiquette: What Would Martha Stewart Do?

August 27, 2010

Real word etiquette applies online!There are really good social networkers and some that just give the term a bad name (through ignorance or arrogance or a combination of both!).  If you fall into the latter group, fear not because unless you’re an old dog, you’re going to learn some new tricks. Let’s define what good online etiquette is.

The Art of Online Etiquette: what would Martha (Stewart) do?

A little respect:

It’s crazy to me that people think that the rules of etiquette their parents (hopefully) drilled into them as children simply cease to exist online. It seems that without real-world social cues (i.e.: Getting the middle finger, or “Get the hell out of my face, looser.” screamed in your face), and with the anonymity that online communication provides, people’s behavioral traits become exaggerated.  For some, this means being aggressive, argumentative or demanding, not to mention self-obsessed and attention seeking. Don’t fall into this small category of online (and I’m sure offline) idiots. If you come across them, walk away (not literally of course), as rebutting just provokes.  Apply your everyday social etiquette online, your niceness will be remembered, and your subsequent posts, comments and requests will be much better received and respected.

Keep It Real:

Every time you turn on your computer, you should look for real, meaningful interactions online. Authenticity and translucency is key. You have to be real and truthful, completely open and honest. There’s nothing less appealing than an inauthentic, desperate, self-focused person. You have to care about the person(s) you communicate with, even though they’re not standing in front of you, beyond getting what you need from them. Up your care factor to 10!  Just like your art, every communication you make should be filled with your passion and come from your heart.

A couple of years ago, at the onset of online viral campaigns, a retail giant (that shall not be named so I don’t get sued!) came up with an interesting and original concept.  They hired two actors, a handheld video camera and a camper-van and set them off on the ultimate road-trip across America. The couple was to film a video diary entry each day from where they stopped for the night – conveniently it was always in the parking lot of this secret retail giant.  The actors were engaging, their daily stories fun and entertaining, and the campaign had the makings of being a great success.  Except for one small factor: The retailer refused to acknowledge that they were behind this project.  Even when smart individuals clued in to the retailer’s direct involvement and publicly challenged them, they continued to deny it, insisting it was a real couple.  Eventually, the big suits at the retailer had no choice but to admit defeat and claim responsibility.  Overall, the project had the opposite effect than desired, instead of being associated with home-grown, American values and being the #1 nation-wide go-to for all life’s needs, they were tainted with being untruthful, devious and assuming their audience was dumb.  The moral of this little tale is that the online universe though big in numbers, is small when it comes to deception.  Word travels fast, so make sure those words associated with you are only positive!

A note about Patience:

Your Mom (and mine) was right – it is a virtue!  I know it’s not a skill most artists practice, myself included, but real relationships don’t happen overnight, or even in a matter of weeks. Start today, but remember to concentrate on long-term, as well as short-term results. Don’t think all of your efforts are leading towards a D-Day – some point where all your hard work will come into fruition in one glorious moment.  Think instead of incorporating just a little, concise and specific outreach into your daily activities. The results will soon become obvious as you start to achieve your goals and see success, achieving the career of your dreams.  As my coffee mug tells me: your life (and career) is a journey – not a destination!

Have a wonderful weekend, on Monday we’ll take a look at Branding, and how you can define yours!  Until then – keep sharing!

“If you share your light with the world, truth and goodness will be your constant companions.”

Michael Teal

Image by ReadyWit via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

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