What is netiquette

First impressions are made very quickly. In less than three seconds, they say. With all the communication applications and devices around, you have that three second opportunity repeatedly, in different places with possibly thousands of people at a time. Which is why netiquette is so important.

Netiquette is having and using the correct online norms and manners that are socially acceptable. It is essential that you not only familiarise yourself with all the social media tools, devices and apps, but also that you learn the rules and behaviour appropriate and relevant to it. Just like having manners around the dinner table, there are rules that apply on and with social media and online communication.

Just ask Penny Sparrow and Diane Kohler-Barnard. The one tweeted and the other simply shared an article she found interesting – one she hadn’t bother to read to the end. Both ladies ended up in very deep water. Are you sure it will not happen to you?

Are you aware that your ‘personal’ Facebook account is not so personal anymore? The minute you provide the name of your company or the organisation you work for, you represent that organisation.  Which means that you should not say anything derogatory about your boss, a customer, the opposition or even a political party. You are opening yourself up to libel, a lawsuit, and you run the risk of being fired.

Sure, you have your privacy settings in place, so your bare-butt-braai photos can only be seen by your friends… But the minute they tag someone else or like it, it is in the public domain. Snap Chat is not there only for an instant. Remember, once something is in digital form, or on the internet, it cannot be deleted. At a recent seminar law firms warned: your lack of netiquette makes you easy prey, and if you don’t have money, the company you represent gets targeted.

The concern regarding netiquette goes further than that: it is the way you present yourself, and on the positive end, you can use it to build your personal brand. Whether you are an entrepreneur, an employee or a guy who wants to impress a girl: YOU are your own brand. People take a look at how you dress, what you do and what you say to make up their minds about you in an instant. Nowadays, personal branding and promoting your organisation goes hand in hand with social media, and it seems to be the way to get others to promote you and/or your business on your behalf, all the more.

You have to know the different social media, how it works and for whom and why it works. Each has its function and place, and if you are wise, you will be able to use twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Skype, Google Groups, Pinterest and so many more, to enhance your knowledge, your business, your offering and your personal brand.

As an individual, you can brand yourself as the expert on a specific issue or topic, you can promote yourself, your product or your service, but it will only work if you play by the rules. Everything you do says something about you. Even when you write an email to a customer and you make a spelling error, or you send your boss a text and say “Gonna be l8” – the message sends a message.

Once you are aware of the dangers, and also of the benefits, you can make sure that you use your netiquette and online presence to your advantage. Apart from promoting the awesome guy you are, it can get you that promotion or even make you the next Justin Bieber!