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.

Millennials: How are you navigating adulthood?

Jessica Levco

Recently, I was lucky enough to see that classic Chicago sunset from the top of a rooftop deck, right in front of Millennium Park. From a bird’s eye view, you can see how the Windy City is organized on a grid system. I realized that no matter which way you walk in Chicago, you always know where you’ll end up.

If only life as a millennial could be that linear. But as a twenty-something, you’ll find yourself re-routing, doing U-turns, or winding up on dead-end streets. Sometimes, it’s hard just getting started.

One day, you’ve got a job—the next, the Recession forces your employer to lay you off. Maybe you spend all day at work looking at grad school programs in Brazil. Perhaps your degree in Holistic Underwater Basket Weaving isn’t paying the bills. Whatever situation you find yourself in, it seems like the paths are always changing.

You constantly have to ask yourself: “What road do you want to go down?”

Up until college, you didn’t even think about this. The only question you had to ask was, “Should I go to a frat or a house party tonight?” Basically, you knew what was expected of you (and what you expected out of your weekends). Get good grades to go to college; Get good grades in college; and get a good job. You thought were following a grid or at least, a reasonable plan.

If you’re a recent college grad, you might now be realizing that you’ll have to throw your internal grid system away. Part of becoming an adult is figuring out how to create your own path.

Maybe a good strategy is not knowing (or caring) where you’re going. Sure, you might hit a few dead ends and have to turn-around, but isn’t that better than admitting hopeless confusion? If you wander from street to street, you make the decisions yourself. Nobody will tell you what road to go down. Even if they did, you probably wouldn’t listen.

So, that being said, here’s the best, non-directional and most clichéd advice my mom ever gave me: “You never know what’s around the corner.”

That’s true. Even when you’re living on a grid.

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You’re hired! Now fill out this pile of forms


Lauren Yanow

Well, I did it.

Finally, finally, finally I got a job. When Ragan Communications offered me a full-time position after six weeks of interning, I couldn’t wait to officially get started.

But something was blocking me:

Paperwork. Lots and lots of paperwork.

Here’s how to fill it out, millennial style:

W-4:  This probably won’t be the first time you’ve seen a tax form. It’s important to answer all the questions to decide how to declare yourself. Most millennials will be declaring a ‘1’ or ‘2,’ as singles without dependents.

State Withholding:  Just another form that allows the government to take all your money away. This form tells Illinois that I am declaring a ‘1.’ I’m just doing my part to pave the state’s roads.

Insurance: This is overwhelming. I have to start thinking about the following: health insurance, dental insurance, a life insurance policy, and a long-term/short-term disability plan. Not all companies will have this many options, but be prepared to choose between HMOs and PPOs. Let’s translate: An HMO is basic medical insurance, with doctors and professionals who have agreed to treat patients under a specific plan. When selecting an HMO, you will need to select a primary physician and will only be eligible to see specialists with a referral from your primary physician. On the flip side, a PPO is typically more expensive, but gives you the luxury to see any doctor within the limits of your plan.

I-9: This proves to your company that you are eligible to work in the United States. Start digging around for your passport, driver’s license, and/or social security card. 

401K: Your parents are right—you need to start saving your money—and skipping Starbucks on Saturday doesn’t count. A 401K is a retirement savings account that you can put money in now, to use later. But this isn’t like a savings account from a bank. You can’t withdraw money from this account until you are nearly 60. To encourage participation in a 401K, some companies match a portion, percentage, or fixed amount that you put in your 401K. Also, the money that you put in from your paycheck into your 401K is tax free. But you might not be eligible to start your 401K immediately, due to your company’s starting policy. But whenever it’s time for me to start contributing, I’ll put in as much money as I can.  Future Lauren will thank me later.

Basic forms: It’s important that your company has your emergency contact information. I also needed to fill out my work schedule and read an employee handbook agreement. Reading your employee handbook will help get you familiar with your company’s policy.

Money: What will you do with your first paycheck? Some companies have a direct deposit option. This means that your pay check is directly put into your account on pay day, instead of receiving a check. To complete this form, I needed to go to my bank and get direct deposit forms. You can also use a void check, too.

There will be a lot of forms you have to read and sign, after you say ‘yes’ to your first job. But don’t be embarrassed to ask a parent or co-worker for help or advice. They’ve all been in there before.

And just think: After you finish filling it all out, you can get back to work.


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