Are You Fitting In Nicely?

Communicating online may feel simple and quick to do, but it also takes social sensitivity to get it right.

In our daily routines we’re used to many different social situations.

Every day we all navigate our way through a complex series of social situations without really thinking about what we’re doing.

From sitting down with the family for breakfast, through a commute on the train, to a sales presentation, a lunch with colleagues and then out for dinner with old friends, we effortlessly adapt our behaviour accordingly.

This doesn’t happen by accident of course. These are cultural codes that are embedded from a young age and built over time through experience.

The same principles apply online.

When it comes to navigating the virtual world the social and behavioural protocols are, if anything, even more complex and, at times, confusing. But they are also equally important to avoid negative reactions.

What’s appropriate for a business to say and do on its own Facebook page or Twitter account is very different to how it would be expected to behave if it joined in a discussion in a group on LinkedIn or posted a comment on someone else’s content.

It sounds pretty obvious really, yet many businesses fail to recognise the shifts that are occurring as they travel around the online world. This is often because these transitions come at the speed of a click and because the different situations can initially appear deceptively similar.

To be in the game you’ve got to play by the rules.

Some social norms are established in a very short space of time, some over longer periods. All of them become shared and accepted and in the digital era this spread happens more quickly than ever before.

Just because communication and engagement is happening on a screen instead of in person doesn’t make these conventions any less powerful. In fact it makes them more important, because in the absence of face to face interaction they are the glue. The grammar and punctuation.

Make sure your behaviour is appropriate at all times.

In the grand scheme of things these new online, social channels are still, well, relatively new. We’re all still figuring our way around them and the pace of evolution will no doubt continue. Any business wanting to integrate and involve themselves successfully, to be part of the many, varied conversations taking place, needs to be thinking all the time about the context in which they’re engaging.

Ask not what you’re expecting of others, but what others are expecting of you.