I would be lying if I said that my behaviour online was completely reflective of my offline behaviour. To be honest I do not think it is possible to behave in the same way online and offline effectively as the circumstances are so different.
But manners remain incredibly important and I think that it is something which is frequently overlooked.
I try to always speak my mind but at the same time remain respectful in all situations. But for some reason, when I am pissed off by someone I have a slightly sharper tongue online (speaking mainly about emails here) but with social media I am more guarded.
With social media I usually give a bit of thought to what I say as I realise that the potential audience is large and that things can be easily misinterpreted. When in person with close friends I find it is fun to say ridiculous, stupid, extreme, controversial things and mess about as they know that I am messing about but online things can easily be taken the wrong way and you do not have the opportunity to read the recipients facial expression for clues on their interpretation of what you just said.
As well as this, related to online manners I noticed that in business social circles there are often clear hierarchies developing where some, more popular and well known individuals seem to feel that they do not need to be as polite in terms of saying thank you to others that help them in small ways, perhaps because they feel that they do not need the help or perhaps it is not bad manners, maybe they simply do not have the time to say a simple “thank you”?
I started wondering how others feel about manners online and put the following question to 6 well known bloggers:
Q. How important are good manners in todays online world? Do you have any personal examples of how good manners (saying thank you, doing a small favour) have benefitted your business?
Roxanne R Roark
“Manners are absolutely important online! In the “age” of social media, people tend to pay more attention to you if you are being engaging and friendly; saying thank you for the Retweet or comment on Facebook.
Being friendly and generous on Twitter has built my business and actually led to potentials becoming clients, as well as building a wonderful network of (now real-life) friends that help me if I ever need it. :)”
“Manners don’t mean a damn thing online today. Everyone is out for themselves and they don’t care about anyone. Consider Triberr as an example. We have thirty members on our Tribe yet no one can spend the time to answer a question of the day, and here is why. The only thing they care about is getting shares, tweets, and likes on the content they create and not helping others create valuable content or sharing.
People on the internet today are looking out for themselves and only want to do what will benefit their rankings, traffic, or website.
It’s rare today to find people that do stuff just to help others such as guest posting (without asking for a link), leaving a comment on a blog without trying to get something in return later, or following someone on Twitter in hopes that they will follow us back.
Manners are important and we do need them online, but it seems they are all but missing.”
“Good manners are always appropriate and in order.
That doesn’t mean that people exhibit good manners online these days, but I look at that as a benefit.
What I mean by that is I believe that how you do anything is how you do everything and so when people express poor manners, I just take it as that’s how they do everything and I know that it’s not a fit to work with them.
I always try to be cordial and respectful and people do notice. I can recall one instance where someone said something very complimentary about my work and wanted to book a time to talk about consulting with me.
In my initial reply, I focused only on booking the appointment, but when I realized what I had done, I emailed back immediately and thanked her for saying such nice things about me and I included a line like, “where are my manners!?!”
She wrote back immediately thanking me for sending the extra note and she ended up being a Private Coaching Client because she said she “liked my style”.
How you do anything is how you do everything.”
Carol Lynn Rivera
“Manners are important anywhere you go in life, whether that’s online or offline. People don’t always exhibit the best manners but they always notice when they’re on the receiving end of poor manners.
I think to some extent, poor manners has become the norm to the point that when you meet someone who is kind and polite, it comes as a pleasant surprise. That can be a good thing for those of us who do mind our manners – we get noticed.
Answering a tweet, sharing a blog post (without expectation of reciprocation), answering an email on the same day you receive it – all those things that once may have been common courtesy now make us stand out as people that other people want to know and do business with.
Beyond common decency, it has had a noticeable impact on my business. If I hadn’t chosen to answer someone’s email within ten minutes, but had either ignored it or waited a few days, that person would not have been pleased and impressed and we would not have begun the type of relationship we developed and I would not have closed the contract that I did.
If I hadn’t thanked, shared, retweeted or extended any number of common courtesies, I would not have built the relationships I have, would not have grown a community of people who are also willing to help, thank, share and extend courtesies to me.
I’ve closed jobs, I’ve grown my subscriber list, I’ve improved my traffic and conversion rate – in some cases clearly through a simple act of kindness or courtesy.
People recognize good manners. People also recognize – and remember – bad manners. Being known as rude, unapproachable or unhelpful is not likely to win you any fans or customers.
There is also the simple fact that acting with poor manners is a reflection of you and your business ethics. It’s impossible to choose to be rude or dismissive online but then preach good customer service and attention to detail “in the real world”.
(And I use the word “you” in that global, general sense!)
You represent yourself, your brand and your company in every small interaction and every thank you. They do count!”
“I find that good manners are highly Important Online.
I personally reach out to people on Twitter and actively try to help people with problems that I know can be a quick an easy solution.
Do I ask for anything out of return? Of course not, but 9 times out of 10 those people follow me and are more than willing to share my expertise and links.
Spending the time to help others and just being nice can yield amazing results online.”
“Manners online are important, although they don’t come very often. A simply +1 / Like or share of a post is a good way to thank people and we should try and give thanks were its due.
I recently built a great relationship with an up and coming business – we both have a love of all things tech and simply engaging and commenting on each others posts here and there has developed into a close relationship where our businesses help each other out whether its just sharing posts or recommending clients – all because of good social media etiquette and some thanks were it was due!”
I just want to thank all six of you for helping me with this question; your manners are impeccable.
I am in two minds after hearing everyone else’s opinion. I strongly believe that manners are important online and that doors can easily be closed through poor manners or simply a lack of gratitude. At the same time good manners can create incredible opportunities with people that you have never even met in person.
I am now starting to ponder the question of why some people, including me, occasionally forget their manners online? The answer may be that it just comes down to specific circumstances. If I have a shitty day then I am less bouncy and jovial in all of my transactions with other people regardless of whether they take place on or offline. But then again, perhaps online I worry less about keeping up appearances?