|Everything you say online reflects on your reputation.|
By Phyllis Zimbler Miller
The basics: Correct spelling and good grammar
Yes, on Twitter I’ve been known to use 4 to mean “for” when I don’t have enough characters for what I want to say. But I always strive to spell correctly every real word I use.
And while some people might say “What’s the big deal?” about incorrectly spelled words, some people who read your tweets might think you’re careless with other things too, such as their business needs if they were your clients.
Off-limits: Swear words, off-color comments and slang
I personally was taken aback when a person for whom I was about to write a guest post called me “mate” in an email. In my perception, “mate” has a very particular meaning, and it’s not that positive. I nicely pointed out to him that I was rather surprised by the use of the term.
It’s not only what you write online – it’s also what you say online
Let’s say you’re on a teleseminar and you ask a question in which you unnecessarily disparage someone or something. Then that teleseminar recording is made available to the people on the teleseminar as well as others. It’s possible that what you said could get you in deep water for a very long time. And how do you apologize to a recording?
What if you disagree with something that someone has said?
Again, it’s important to consider how to disagree before you blast your opinion throughout the Internet. I faced this issue when someone responded to a LinkedIn question with what I believed was totally inaccurate information. I didn’t want to say the answer was wrong but I didn’t want to leave the person asking the question with the opinion that the given answer was correct.
I posed my dilemma as a blog post on my site, and I received a very wise response. I was advised to say: “There are differing opinions on this subject.” And then I was to give my opinion without referring to the other person’s answer.
I thought this an extremely reasonable strategy. I did not “put down” the other person’s answer, but I did share my own opinion with the person who asked the question.
And this advice definitely includes the photos you post. For example, whether you believe in Facebook’s privacy settings (which are changed, it seems, almost on a daily basis), do NOT post a picture of yourself holding a bottle of beer in each hand and looking the worse for wear. Of course, this advice is even more so for videos on YouTube.
Regardless of whether you think such photos or videos are in “good fun,” your brand or business does not need to take hits from such missteps on your part.
The Internet world is global by definition, and because we can’t know the sensibilities of everyone who might read our tweets, blog comments, etc., we need to be sensitive to the words we use.
Phyllis Zimbler Miller (@ZimblerMiller on Twitter) has an M.B.A. from The Wharton School and is the co-founder of the social media marketing company Miller Mosaic Power Marketing. The company has a monthly mentorship program that focuses on social media marketing, WordPress websites/blogs and email marketing.