Online etiquette tips for communicators

‘Do unto others as you would have then do unto you’ applies to Internet marketing practices, too. Are you committing these sins?

How many of you love to receive spam email?

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

Who among you loves 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 with or build a 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 precisely that to others when you sit at 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 it at work, even though we, as consumers, hate it.

A couple of years ago, I did some research on different programs for a CRM for a client. I spoke to people at five 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 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 whether I check my email and, if I do respond (even if it’s to say that it’s not OK they added me to their list), they know it’s a viable email address.

Not long ago, my friend Abbie Fink updated her Facebook status:

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 tactic, yet many of us use it in 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 code of conduct 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 invitation 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 Plus 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 the context of the consumer.
  7. Thou shalt not build lists, fans, followers, connections or circles purely 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-value to them, not to you.
  10. Thou shalt not engage in black hat email marketing.

What else would you add?

A version of this article first appeared on Spin Sucks.

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