In our fledgling digital world, a world of acronyms, idioms, hashtags and abbreviations, it often seems as though IRL* manners are virtually inapplicable. But online presence and a sense of decorum are (contrary to popular belief) not mutually exclusive. We know that social media is an important part of your business. So here are 5 tips for keeping it classy online.

*In Real Life


Grammar is Gold

Grammar might sound like an odd thing to stress in a cryptically abbreviated world. But grammar is a tool essential to effective communication – digital or otherwise. Grammatical errors can have dire consequences. Something as simple as a misplaced comma can render you an accidental comedian. And your viewers will be laughing at, not with you.

Yes, we know that language is constantly changing. But grammar is indicative of your intellect, your critical thinking, as well as your attention to detail. With this in mind, you begin to understand why bad grammar detracts from your business’ credibility.

Of course, some platforms make it hard (not many brands we know have grammatically impeccable Tweets)… However, it’s all about context:

“Let’s say you see a man in a Speedo. Are you at the beach? Let’s hope so. … You don’t wear a Speedo or other super-abbreviated forms of pants on the bus. Likewise, you don’t use really abbreviated language where it doesn’t belong.” – Mignon Fogarty (aka Grammar Girl)

Wear your (well-fitted) Speedo on Twitter, but stick to a suit on LinkedIn.

The bottom line: Use Grammarly. It’s great. We used it for this post.


Spellcheck Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

Not everyone is inherently brilliant at spelling. But spellcheck is. Quite frankly, the only excuse for a spelling mistake in 2015 is laziness, lack of sleep, or some form of inebriation. And your consumers are aware of this. Bad spelling, like bad grammar, can ruin your brand’s credibility by making you appear uneducated and incautious. Would you make a purchasing decision supportive of a brand that exhibits carelessness?

A word of warning, though… If you are going to be posting content for the whole, brush up on basic spelling rules. Spellcheck, in all its glory, has a hard time telling you the difference between “they’re”, “there” and “their”.

The bottom line: Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your 8th grade English teacher to have read. (Heaven knows how many times we’ve proof-read this post).


Don’t Engage with Trolls

As a brand, it’s not your job to teach people manners (unless you have a Mike Melgaard on your team, but that’s a whole other blog post…).

If people misbehave on your page/site/blog, delete their comments and move on. Do not attempt to scold, educate or otherwise engage with people seeking negative attention, because this can be tricky to do without making yourself vulnerable.

But be careful! It is a fine line between moderation & censorship, and keeping your business on the side of fairness can be an arduous task. Allow room for personal opinion, but be intolerant of hate speech. Allow for humorous banter, but not trolling.

The bottom line: Keep calm, stay objective, carry on.


Don’t Abuse Your Network!

This is about keeping things professional. Do not mix social life into your business blog/page/site. Although authenticity is important, there is a difference between being truthful and being personal. No one wants to hear how Joe Soap & Co.’s manager is going through a rough patch. Or to see what the CEO had for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a midnight snack.

This goes for individual’s accounts too. Your Facebook profile is not a “Dear Diary”. It is a communication tool. Clients are as likely to check out your personal profile as they are your brand’s page. Don’t give them the wrong idea.

The bottom line: Your brand’s network is an invaluable asset. Treat them as such.


Let’s Talk About Spam, Baby

Spam is social litter. Spam is also abuse. When broadcasting, be it an email, blog post, status update or Tweet, ask yourself The Question: “Am I adding value?” If the answer is anything less than “absolutely”, don’t do it! (Editor’s note: we love how MailChimp’s monkey sweats before pressing the big, red, scary-looking button – we think all public platforms should have one).

Avoid posts that are too sales-orientated. Your consumer has all kinds of things shoved into their face online – don’t add to the pollution. Make them want to choose you, by adding value to their lives. Even then, limit posts to an absolute maximum of one per hour. Anything above that becomes digital white noise, and viewers very quickly lose interest.

The bottom line: The consumer psyche is delicate and often confusing. But substance over bombardment holds true every time.