Old Etiquette Rules That Apply to Business Today
In business, it pays to be forward-thinking. Especially now, in the information age with technology outdoing itself every year, the future is on the forefront of every business (as it should be).
But, all of this futuristic thinking cannot replace some established ways of doing business. Even though the internet makes it easy to expedite or remove practices like being considerate and conversational, that doesn't mean it's beneficial for a company to do so.
In fact, much of business on social media (and online in general) is void of conscientiousness for the consumer's wellbeing. Instead, many online sales teams take to going straight to the pitch before any introduction or relationship is formed.
But, regardless of the medium, customers still care about being treated well. Businesses that plan to be successful online would do well to take a few pages out of some old-fashioned etiquette books!
Today, we're showing how a few seemingly outdated rules of etiquette could help improve the way people conduct business online. Let's learn some manners!
"It is your duty to seem interested in the conversation of those who are talking."
Don't zone out. Listen to the conversation and participate.
This is perhaps the biggest problem with online conversations in business: people don't listen to their audience's conversation and have no concern for their interests.
Social media is guilty of this. So many salespeople will connect with prospects individually or in a group page, only to spam their sales pitch as soon as they get an opportunity. This is viewed by many as sleazy and inauthentic.
Instead, this rule says we should seem interested in the conversation. We'd like to take it a step further and say to really be polite, you need to actually be interested by participating in the conversation.
How does this look in practice on social media? Posting content that your desired audience cares about. Commenting on a prospect's post about one of their primary interests. Genuinely engaging with people as people, and not as dollar signs.
As your audience sees you caring about their conversation, it makes them more likely to care about listening to yours. It's a give-and-take, even online.
"You owe it to yourself and to those with whom you mingle to be as well informed as possible."
Know your stuff.
Don't you just love it when you see a LinkedIn or Facebook post where the author clearly has no clue what they're talking about? Yea, us neither.
The best part about this old rule is the beginning phrase: "You owe it to yourself..."
Meaning that being informed on the subject you post about is just as helpful to you as it is to those reading it. Because if you know what you're posting about, then people will respect what you're saying. Over time, they'll even begin viewing you as a source of authority on the subject.
Since informing yourself is a time-consuming activity, it has fallen by the wayside in many online communities. Which of course, makes it more important than ever to post accurately.
Besides standing out as a authentic voice, your business will have a better reputation– a key factor in online sales.
"Don't respond to remarks made to you in one syllable. Have something to say, and say it."
Be vocal– politely.
This quote can be interpreted in several ways. You could take "remarks" to be comments from you audience, questions about the product, or even harsh or unfounded criticisms about your business. All of them are worth considering.
While "one syllable" seems like an exaggeration, curt, unhelpful responses from a customer service rep or page admin are all too common online.
When you respond to any inquiry online, you should be able to express your point in detail. Whether you're explaining a feature or responding to criticism, being able to communicate clearly is paramount. And many aspects of social media are public, making it crucial to be descriptive (and careful) with your words.
Providing clarity in online responses is a small way to illustrate how you business care about doing the small things right. For some customers, that might make a world of difference.
"Avoid bragging about your own exploits unsolicited."
It's not all about you.
This shouldn't be news to anybody, but, looking at the state of social media, some people need to read this, underline it, and maybe write it on their bathroom mirror.
We all see the narcissistic accounts that use their social handle solely as a billboard to advertise themselves or their products. Both individuals and businesses are guilty of this.
Most would probably agree that this is shortsighted and literally contradicts the "social" component of social media, and yet we're still met with self-centered grandstanding every day on our timelines.
The antidote to this online narcissism is to post less about yourself (your business and your products) and more about things that interest you audience.
As we mentioned in the first etiquette rule, people are more likely to enjoy and engage when you share content they care about. So there needs to be a healthy balance between this content, which we called third party content, and content about your business.
And by healthy balance, we don't mean posting each type equally. A good rule of thumb is that for every post about your business, you should have at least three posts ready to share that aren't about your business.
These posts could be industry-relevant articles, videos, or even a retweet from a source that your audience cares about.
"Never answer another rudely or impatiently."
Be kind– even if they aren't.
Another given... and yet many companies get in hot water on social media because of their responses on social media. PC Mag has a whole list of corporate social slip-ups.
Point being, generating thoughtful responses will be seen as professional and trustworthy, whereas flying off the handle with rude remarks might cost you some customers.
Many don't intend to be rude with posts or responses. A lot are attempts at humor. But a fine line must be drawn between a humorous response and a rude response. And across the internet right now, much can be interpreted as offensive which was an intended as an innocent joke.
"Do unto others as you would have others do unto you."
Put yourself in their shoes.
If you were being sold to online (which, if you have access to the internet, you are) how would you like to be treated? Would you want someone to get to know you before the start selling you a product? Of course.
So look around on the internet. Look at how salespeople are going about selling to you through social media, and then ask yourself: do I like the way they are treating me as a customer? As a person?
If the answer comes back yes, then you want to emulate that in your own business. If the answer is no, then consider how you can improve upon their tactics, so you can form more meaningful connections. Some of those tactics might be using some of these tips on etiquette.
These rules are just a few simple steps you can take to improving your online presence. The point of using these in business practices is to be more genuine and show prospects you view them as people as well as a potential customers.
Implementing some of these rules can be difficult or time-consuming. If you'd like to learn how Soundboard can help you create meaningful online interactions that align with these rules of etiquette, then consider trying a 10 day free trial of Soundboard. You can also download our free browser extension for Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge, which can help you pursue leads with valuable content without ever leaving your LinkedIn.