Mind your digital manners

Digital media allow us to combine different forms of information and communication (text, video and audio sources, blogs, forums, Tweets, remote comments, email, etc.) in a single post. As a business owner you can take advantage of this convergence of online resources to promote your brand extensively. 

But you must do so wisely. 

As a business owner it is important that you communicate your message and pay increased attention to whether or not what you are recording and distributing might upset the person or entity in some way. 

In other words, you must be digitally well mannered. 

The following are some areas to be mindful of when conducting your online activities:

1. Spamming is the practice of sending unsolicited messages via instant messaging, forums, email, blogs, classified ads, and social networking websites, online classifieds ads and other media to promote a product or service.  And while SpamRatings

 admits that 65 percent of people are actually angered by spam e-mails, e-mail spam messages reached the trillions worldwide in 2011.  As we recommended in Digital Body Language – How can Small Businesses interpret it, track it and benefit from using it,  a more effective method of communication is to try to listen to what customer want in order to formulate sound marketing strategies that respond to their needs.

2. Copyright, the exclusive right to use certain information or ideas, also applies to internet journals, stories, articles, graphics, recordings, pictures, videos, etc. While The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (also referred to as just the Berne Convention) requires protection for all creative works in a fixed medium be automatic, and last for at least 50 years after the author's death for any work except for photographic and cinematographic works. Once that period is up, the work created by that person becomes public domain and anyone wanting to use their work or idea is free to do so.* So, be careful when creating content or even when translating material, and always ask for permission from the author to reproduce their original or make sure you reference it appropriately.

3. Confidentiality.  You have a responsibility to your customers to ensure that their private information is never compromised. As such, only ask for the information that is absolutely needed to process a transaction (name, address, contact number and credit card details). 

4. Netiquette 
is a set of common courtesy guidelines to be used in any Internet interaction you establish, when you are chatting, emailing, posting messages as blog comments and forum posts, using social networking websites or any other media. 

Basic netiquette includes such rules as avoiding the use of all caps and too many emoticons (don’t s scream at your customers),  writing clearly and briefly, using descriptive subject lines, staying on topic,  and following a website’s rules, among others. Equally important is to refrain yourself from “flaming” or writing any personal abuses or sending someone outrageously insulting messages, whether by private email or in a public Usenet posting, usually because you disagree with something they have said. 

Following these common Internet courtesy rules will help you build a solid Digital Reputation and a positive online image. 

* Please check country-specific regulations

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