As technology evolves, small business owners need to not only keep up with these changes, but also keep in mind a certain level of proper behavior and protocol. With business email, social media, and instant messaging/chat programs, it’s easy to get too casual and perhaps personal with clients. It is important to put that aside and remain professional, while following certain proper rules of the Internet. Collectively, this is referred to as business digital netiquette.
Here are a few small business digital netiquette tips to keep in mind.
One of the biggest areas of potential blunders with proper business netiquette is with social media. Social media is great for businesses because it helps you to interact with your customers and clients, and begin building and engaging your audience. However, it’s important to keep in mind that you are representing a business when interacting with your customers and clients.
With respect to Twitter, for example, avoid sending automatic direct messages (DMs). Nobody likes them and the majority of people just delete without ever reading them. You will likely get unfollowed because of these auto-reply messages.
With all forms of social media, don’t be afraid to get a bit more casual than in a corporate communication setting, but always remain professional. When others mention you in a post, thank them. Answer questions that are asked on your Facebook page about your products or business in general.
Cell Phone and Computer Usage
Part of business netiquette also has to do with your cell phones, since smartphones are all about social media, email, messaging, and updated technology. Avoid using your smartphone during a business meeting or when having a conversation with a co-worker or client. It is tempting to always be looking at your phone, but it is rude to others. Avoid letting it distract from you from other things that are going on. It also helps to have a business cell phone that is separate from your personal use cell phone.
The same goes for laptops and computers for business use. Use them only for business purposes, and be sure your employees are following the same rule. For most business settings, personal photos, documents and email should only be used on someone’s personal computer.
Another thing to remember about proper digital netiquette involves business email. First of all, have a business email account separate from your personal account. Not only is the email name itself more professional, but you can create a signature that is intended only for business use and doesn’t include any personal social media or websites you don’t want clients to peruse. It also reminds you when signing into a business email account, it is intended only for business and remaining professional. Never send spam to customers or clients, and avoid being too personal in email communications.
Instant Messaging Programs
Finally, you may use instant messaging or online text programs like the email messenger programs or Skype, but always remain professional and clear. Be brief when communicating with these programs and avoid technical shorthand that not everyone is familiar with.
Believe it or not, people pay attention to these things, and being too personal or bombarding them with too much on social media can put them off from doing business with you. When your business involves use of social media and the internet, be sure to be protected with internet liability insurance and cyber liability insurance.