You’d think that people who spend their entire day online would be internet etiquette pros, but you’re wrong. The very people who are paid to be communications experts and speak positively and professionally on behalf of brands are often the biggest culprits when it comes to trolling, inappropriate behaviour online and general rudeness. Now, I’m no Emily Post, but after experiencing a fellow community manager sending a snarky tweet my way this morning (and probably knowing full well I was the person behind the account), I was inspired to jot down some basic etiquette for existing online as a community manager.
Don’t sass/harass brands on the internet
This one should go without saying. Considering your day job is to respond to consumer complaints / trolls / other communication disasters, it’s only proper to avoid fueling (or creating) the fire for your fellow community managers. Sensitive issue cropping up online around a brand? Don’t join the fray (especially if you know the CM). Karma sucks.
Sound the alarm
The whole online/PR/communications world can be pretty competitive, but don’t let that turn you into the master of schadenfreude. If you see something going wrong with a brand and you know the community manager, sound the alarm. Not long ago, a brand I was working on had a counter-campaign launched against it. The first person to alert me? The direct competitor’s community manager. It might be funny to watch another brand crash & burn, but you’d want someone to give you the heads up if it was you.
Our job is fun. Where else is looking at BuzzFeed part of your job description? If a brand is doing something cool online, join in! Tweet funny things at another account and liven things up. Play nicely between brands and consider a partnership (think Oreo & AMC). It’s more fun for everyone if you lighten up and enjoy your time working online. The internet can breed a lot of scary, not-so-fun situations, so when the going is good, hop on the bandwagon.
Let’s face it: we all work crazy hours. We all deal with the same issues. We all have our own skill sets and expertise. Don’t be afraid to help a fellow CM out, whether it’s answering questions about a platform, sharing a list of bloggers you’ve enjoyed working with before or even just checking in when you see them online at 11PM. Not to quote High School Musical or anything, but we’re all in this together.
Give credit where credit’s due
When you’re fighting for the piece of the same pie, it can feel weird to praise another community manager or their agency for great work. You should make a point of doing so. Did your CM friend write a cool blog post, share a funny tweet, post a cute photo of their cat? RT, share, like, comment. Publicly commend them.
Bottom line? Don’t be a jerk, man.
** with files from Megan Siegel