The 10 commandments of online etiquette


By Gini Dietrich

How many of you love to receive spam email?

How do you like it when you meet someone and he automatically adds you to his newsletter list?

How many of you love to get information that talks all about the sender and tells you nothing valuable?

How often do you unsubscribe from email lists and newsletters?

How many of you know organizations that push their messages via social media, but don’t use it to engage, network, or build a community? I’d venture to guess every one of you.

If you are with me—you hate this stuff—I want to know why you do it to others when you get behind your computer at work.

Some examples

I ask these questions when I speak, particularly when I do three- or four-hour workshops. It allows me to dig deep into why people do this at work, but hate it as a consumer or buyer.

A few weeks ago, I did some research on different customer relationship management programs for a client. I spoke to five different companies. Of the five, three added me to their newsletter list without my permission, simply because I called looking for additional information.

And last week, I received an email from a company telling me it added me to an email distribution list and to let someone know if it wasn’t OK. This is not a company I’ve ever communicated with. Someone just decided I was a good target and went ahead and added me.

But I guess it makes it OK if someone tells me he added me?

I’m sure this is a sales technique of some sort. Maybe it’s to see if I check my email and, if I respond (even if it’s to say it’s not OK they added me to their lists), they know it’s a viable email address.

Or maybe it’s a list-building tactic, which means the organization is focused on the wrong things.

I’ve become afraid to answer emails from strangers at all.

Why is it that all of us hate this, but a good majority of us do it when it comes to online marketing?

The 10 commandments of online etiquette

Perhaps there isn’t a one-size-fits-all equation, and maybe you’re simply focused on numbers instead of conversions, but I’d like to think there is some online etiquette we all should consider.

Therefore, I created the 10 commandments of online etiquette:

1. Thou shalt not add anyone to a newsletter list without his or her consent.

2. Thou shalt not send a LinkedIn invite that says, “I’d like to add you to my professional network.”

3. Thou shalt not post news releases as blog posts.

4. Thou shalt not talk about yourself in communications.

5. Thou shalt not use Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn accounts as news feeds for an organization.

6. Thou shalt not create newsletters that talk about how great you, your leadership, products, or services are without putting them in the context of the buyer.

7. Thou shalt not build lists, fans, followers, connections or circles just for the sake of numbers.

8. Thou shalt not abuse your online power.

9. Thou shalt not email bloggers, journalists, influencers, or target audiences without doing research, building relationships, and giving them something of value.

10. Thou shalt not engage in black hat email marketing.

What else would you add?

Gini Dietrich is founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, Inc. A version of this article originally ran onSpin Sucks.

Millennial reflections on 9/11


By Tom Wood

I am a millennial, a member of Generation Y, a college student and an avid technology user. More often than not, as I sit on my laptop at home, I put myself in the line of fire of my mother’s campaigns against technology. “You spend hours on that thing! Hours! Why don’t you get off and read a book?”

Both my parents are avid readers. They constantly try and guilt trip me out of hours of social networking with cries like, “do you think great men like Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln would’ve sat on a computer?!”

Perhaps I’ll tweet that quote to my friends, but nonetheless their tirades give me pause. I begin to doubt the uses of social media. I begin to sympathize with their points of view and think that maybe social media is the reason why my generation can’t read the classics or concentrate in class. I begin to think that maybe I should deactivate my Facebook and Twitter accounts and spend all my hours with my dad’s favorite classic –The Iliad.

But on 9/11 of all days, my faith in the goodness of social media is restored. Today, a day which will live in solemnity for all Americans for as long as this country exists reminds me why social media is so important for my generation.

Let me explain why.

I am a Chicagoan. I hail from the suburbs and go to school in the city. This is the only life I have ever known. While I wouldn’t consider myself sheltered in any way, I know I am relatively unconnected from the rest of the world. I use my Facebook and Twitter mainly to keep in touch with local friends and wish people happy birthday, never to stimulate reflection on world events.

I had never really taken the time to reflect on that until today. Today, I logged into Facebook and saw the momentum of a generation whose obsession with social media has compelled them to action. It happens every year, but as I grow older I am even more impressed by the social media movements that focus around the events of our lives, and today specifically, 9/11.

Eleven years later, my newsfeed gleams with red white and blue as many of my hundreds of Facebook friends post about 9/11. I see status’ thanking our armed forces, remembering a lost family member or simply reiterating how great our country is in the face of adversity. How eleven years later we haven’t forgotten the sacrifices of our soldiers, firefighters, policemen, and civilian heroes.

I click on my class Facebook page and see that one girl has posted the simple prompt “Do you guys remember 9/11….? :(“ A couple hours later that post has fifty some comments, each telling an individual story.

There’s a reflection from a Chinese student, who rode to the top of the World Trade Center his first time in America, the summer of 2001.

A girl from Bangladesh tells how in her house “the hours after the attack were spent in trepidation,” fearing for the lives of their relatives in New York.

Most touching was the reflection of a student who was at his dad’s office that day and had a clear view of the event. He recalls how his horrified father whispered to him “we all just witnessed mass murder.”

And finally there are the stories of those who lost loved ones, putting their stories out in public, across all media platforms for support and to tell the world that this wasn’t something to be removed from. This is personal.

Facebook is only the beginning. My Twitter feed yields more. Today I discovered, and chose to follow the 9/11 Memorial Twitter feed. For hours now, I have been receiving updates remembering those who lost their lives or were otherwise affected by the accident. The newsfeed chooses to re-tweet as many stories as possible. In this way, I have heard from complete strangers- from marines and firefighters, to politicians and celebrities, all portraying the same message: we will never forget.

Older generations may judge. They will look at us and say “they are too caught up in their electronics and instant messaging.” But they don’t understand. We are part of something. Generation Y is growing up to be a generation of movers and shakers. Because of our passion for social media, we are connected. My vision of 9/11 has been shaped so much by social media. Facebook gave me the chance to read my classmates’ first hand stories, and Twitter linked me to people I most likely will never meet.

 This is our legacy. We may occasionally waste time on our computers and smartphones but when we want to get our message across, we do it. Whether it is to campaign for our politicians, promote a charity or cry for justice Generation Y will get it done.

And the message we put out there today is one that connects us not only as a nation, but as a generation across the globe. We will never forget. 

7 sites that have nothing to do with social media

Sandy Jackiewicz

I have nothing against social media.

But I’m getting sick of Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr.

Are you looking to branch out, too? Here are seven sights worth bookmarking:

  1. GOOD: If adulthood is making you feel cynical and exasperated, head over to GOOD for an idealism boost. It’s all about doing good and living well.
  2. Fast Company: There’s more to Fast Company than business stories. I still haven’t figured out what they mean by “Ethonomics,” but where else can you find articles about $95,000 lab rats?
  3. The Sartorialist: Vogue scares me. Seriously. But thanks to The Sartorialist, I’ve gotten over my fear for fashion and have actually developed some appreciation for it. Plus, I no longer flinch when I hear the word,  “accessorize.”
  4. Paul Kedrosky’s Infectious Greed: Since graduating in 2008, my political science textbooks have sat on a bookshelf, untouched.   Thanks to Paul Kedrosky’s blog, I’ve been able to re-charge my brain cells.
  5. Dezeen: One word: pretty.
  6. The Daily Beast: If you combined TMZ with The New York Times, you’d get something resembling The Daily Beast. Viral videos, breaking stories and gossipy articles–you’re covered.
  7. Smitten Kitchen: If you’re ready to tackle something more complicated than Ramen Noodles, it’s time to visit Smitten Kitchen. Thanks to Smitten Kitchen, I’ve made pretzels, potato pancakes and a two-layered cake.

Living Off the Grid: 5 Surprising Benefits

By Jenny Fukumoto

I lost my iPhone for the first time last weekend. I don’t expect that to come as a shock, since many millennials I know are currently on phone No. 3…or No. 30.

I was “disconnected” for five and a half days. I resorted to involuntary seclusion, as I didn’t want to miss a possible email or tweet from the hotel I left my phone at. I even considered skipping my weekly trek to Jewel Osco, but finally got tired of eating leftovers.

So for five and a half days there was a monkey wrench thrown into my smart phone-infused life. But as I reflect, I realize there were 5 surprising benefits of living “off the grid”:

1. I did not check my work email during non-work hours. And it felt sooooo good!

2. I lived in the moment. While waiting for the bus, I didn’t check my email or text someone back. I instead waited and really looked at my surroundings. I might even go so far as to write I smelled the roses — and the other various scents of Chicago.

3. There was no need to tell people where I was or what I was doing. Without Foursquare, Facebook and Twitter, I didn’t have the impulse to check-in, or share information about my day.

4. I paid more attention to my boyfriend. On our date night, I didn’t have the phone on the table; I didn’t need to text or call anyone back.

5. I had one less battery to worry about charging. How many times have you forgotten to charge your phone, only to have it die when you’re out and about?

Though it was a very humbling experience, I will not be sad if I never have to go through disconnection again!

Can you add to my list? Let us know!

Meet the Millennial Mafia

Figuring out where you “belong” in your office can be tricky.

Especially if you’re still sleeping on your parent’s couch.

The Millennial Mafia at Ragan Communications is here to help. Join us on our adventures as we find out what it means to be a twentysomething, who can’t stop tweeting and texting.

And even if you’re not a millennial (or you’re just a millennial at heart), we think there’s a lot we can learn from you. Like…how to send a telegram.

First, see our video.

Now, we’d like to introduce you to our cast:

Jonny: Forget “EveryMan.” Think of Jonny as “EveryMillennial.” He’s plugged into 15 different social networking sites. He loves creating wireless hot spots. He dreams in memes. Jonny knows there’s a time and place to pop your collar.

Jenny: This over-achieving millennial survives on four hours of sleep each night and works 15 hours a day. She’s constantly thinking of ways to save the world—one tweet at a time. However, Jenny’s work ethic and over-eagerness for her job can be intimidating to other co-workers. But they’ll eventually see that she’s just a small town girl, living in a lonely world…

Alan: He’s more than a pouty lip. He’s got great hair, too—but even more importantly, he’s a millennial (even though he’s not quite sure what that means). Surprisingly, Alan is on the cusp of “what’s new” and “hot” in the digital world. So, will he touch while the iron’s hot? Our guess is a resounding yes.

Narrator: Jessica is the “voice of reason” for the Mafia, helping to bridge the gap between the old and young in the office. She’s still part of the millennial generation, but she’s growing up. Two weeks ago, she stopped drinking PBR.

Bill: As the Mafia mentor, we asked Bill what he’d like to contribute in his role. His response: “By virtue of having lived in that long era of pre-Internet darkness and confusion, perhaps I will bring a fresh perspective to the doings and behavior of this timorous, oblivious, self-satisfied, complacent, maddeningly condescending generation who think the Modern Era began with them. That is my task. May I be worthy of it!” Geez. Can somebody give Bill a Xanax?

Want to learn more? Follow our adventures on Facebook.