Brief introduction: My name is Kristin Jolley and I have been an online marketer for over a decade, with specific expertise in direct response marketing. I am currently the Director of Media for a direct response lead generation company in Salt Lake City, Utah that specializes in online education. I am also Anne’s sister-in-law. ☺
Doing what I do, about 80% of my communicating is via the Internet: email, instant messenger (IM), social media outlets, etc. I do use the telephone – conference calls are a daily event – but the majority of information transferred between my employees, my boss, my vendors, and my clients is through email and IM.
Never in the history of the world have we been able to communicate with so many people – uniquely and individually – virtually at the same time. And I do mean “virtually.” The information-sharing wonders of the Internet have opened a door in increasing the common knowledge base, while the social media phenomenons of the last few years have given the general public the ability to share their thoughts and ideas with ease. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Digg, and WordPress are just a few of the social media giants that happily share our “likes,” “digs,” posts, and “tweets.”
If you are over thirty, you may still be struggling with the “right” way to incorporate these new mediums into your daily communications. In my opinion, there is no “right” way… no “have to”… no “can’t miss.” What works for you is the best solution.
I would, however, recommend the following guidelines for all electronic communication:
If you are going to be on Facebook, check your Facebook account daily. If you are going to be on Twitter, tweet once in a while. If you are going to blog, set the right expectation with your readers of how frequently you will be blogging and then stick to it. (As I write this, I realize that I have broken all of these rules at some point in my life… it’s not easy, but it’s the right way to do it.)
Consistency is key, especially if we are talking about professional communication. Say what you are going to do and then do it. Don’t have an email account that you never check. Get rid of it, or forward it to one that you do check regularly. Don’t ask for Twitter followers if you aren’t going to give them anything to follow.
“Don’t Make Me Think”
I love this advice from my favorite web site usability expert, Steve Krug. In his book, Don’t Make Me Think!, he states that great web design comes by using (or providing) solutions that are common sense. Don’t make your audience struggle! While online retailers need to put their shopping carts where people will look for them, we need to put our name, phone, email, address, etc. where people will find them.
Here are a few ideas to help people communicate with you:
- Make sure you have an email signature (that thing that automatically attaches to the bottom of all your emails).
- If you are away and will not be replying to email soon, set an auto-responder that states that. Include when you will be replying to email and if there is somewhere else or someone else they can contact in the interim. Don’t leave them hanging!
- Check your email regularly – whatever “regularly” means for you. If you don’t check it every day, tell people that when you give them your email address and give them another option for contacting you (phone, text, etc.).
In general, don’t make it a difficult – or even annoying – task for people to get in touch with you. In both personal and professional contexts, an inconvenience of connection could be a major deterrent.
- Keep the emoticons to a minimum. Enough said.
- Do not use all-caps. It is perceived as shouting.
- Use correct grammar and capitalization for email and IM.
- Refrain from vulgarity.
Keep it Confidential
I highly recommend being as private on the Internet as possible. Not only is identity theft a serious concern, but you want to make sure your family and home are protected as well. Don’t allow yourself to be easy prey. Here are some suggestions:
- Don’t post your birth date (especially the year!) on your blog, Facebook, etc.
- Don’t give too much information about where you live, your family, your children, etc.
- If you have a blog and would like to share details about your family, photos of your children, mention that you are going out of town (and leaving your house unattended!), make your blog “private” and invite only certain people to view it.
- Do some “ego-surfing” (Google your name and variations of it) to see if there is any sensitive information open to the public. If so, contact the appropriate party to have it removed.
- Set appropriate privacy settings on Facebook, Amazon.com, LinkedIn, to only reveal certain information to the public and certain other information to friends.
Since I’ve got your ear, I would also suggest not participating in any of the annoying Facebook games (Farmville, etc.) or passing along email strings (ugh). No one likes them, really. If you do want to forward an email, be sure to delete the email addresses of anyone else that it has been forwarded to, and then put all of your recipients in the “bcc” line. It is the proper thing to do.
If you have questions or would like more details about any of the above topics, I would love to know. Thanks for letting me guest blog!