Why online etiquette matters — and why IT leaders should care

Here he discusses why manners matter on social media, and why CIOs should care. But the more managers you talk to, you find that over the years that people — while they have better access to education and technology — are less equipped for face-to-face interactions because they’re getting less and less of them. They forget that social networks are some of the most public spaces available and are shared the entire world over. If you have folks not in senior leadership roles, they tend to be more active online and more casual about the thoughts they’re projecting into the world. Some of the things that can help here are codifying a social media policy [at work] and assigning social media managers to serve as a consistent voice; to talk with employees about what to share, the tone of voice that’s appropriate, the content they should be putting out there in the world; and to really work with them to understand how they should communicate online and add value for end users and customers. Why should businesses care, especially if their employees’ online activity is separate from work? Are there technologies that CIOs can use to promote and enforce etiquette? And there are social media monitoring tools that can keep an eye on what’s being said. You want to teach workers to make good decisions and have better high-tech habits. Should CIOs be building their own social media brands?

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It seems that not a week goes by without social media hitting a new high — or, as United Airlines might attest, a new low. Whatever your perspective, there’s no denying that social networks and online connections can shape how we work, think and interact to a dramatic degree.

High-tech analyst and consultant Scott Steinberg offers guidance on how to get along in this digital world with his new book, Netiquette Essentials: New Rules for Minding Your Manners in a Digital World, which was released in February. This is Steinberg’s seventh book about business or technology. Here he discusses why manners matter on social media, and why CIOs should care.

What observations prompted this book? I have a passion for helping people succeed, and I love watching them network and forge meaningful relationships. And the ability to communicate and establish relationships is key to business success. But the more managers you talk to, you find that over the years that people — while they have better access to education and technology — are less equipped for face-to-face interactions because they’re getting less and less of them. They’re less equipped to present in public or give a speech or a presentation. And you see it day to day.

You’re talking to younger people and they’re checking their phones and texting and tapping while you’re talking. It creates the impression that they’re snubbing you, even if that isn’t their intent. A lot of this isn’t just high-tech etiquette. Some of it is classic etiquette, and we seem to be losing it as we move further online.

What’s the top faux pas people make in or regarding the digital world? They forget that social networks are some of the most public spaces available and are shared the entire world over. And while these settings seem very relaxed and informal, and people enjoy them in a casual manner, we tend to post things that we wouldn’t say out loud in a real-world or office setting.

Posting something you thought was funny or liking a politically charged comment, it can be seen as an endorsement. You have to think twice about posting or liking something controversial. It could be a lightning rod. That like or share could be seen as an endorsement. And the other piece that’s interesting, too, is you can often get private and personal information that people have shared online. And people forget when they post something online that tone of voice and human elements are lost in the translation to the electronic realm. So something you think is said in jest can be taken out of context.

Smiley faces don’t do the trick? A smiley face never hurts. Thank God for emojis. Some people talk in very logical manner, and it comes off very harshly if you don’t add a smiley face.

We’ve seen headlines about people getting in trouble for their social posts. Why haven’t we all learned this lesson yet? Maybe because social networks have a more informal feel to them. You can forget that people might not have context around it. Social networks and online tools encourage us to be more social-facing than ever; there’s less privacy than ever before. They’re meant for short bites — most people don’t put a lot of thought into what they post. You have to be more purposeful and intentional about what you’re putting out…

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