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Social Media and Good Manners

Close photograph of a fema worker shaking a di...

Social media is growing up and it’s learning that old-fashioned manners are still important: be polite, show respect, and say thank you—it will earn far more rewards than playing bully on the playground.

We  flirted with the dark side a few years back when we worried whether conversations of the future would be limited to the 140 characters of Twitter. We took shortcuts with language and shared the embarrassments of our daily life. That community still exists, but another one has evolved from the petri dish of the early days of the Internet phenomenon.

This one is based on the power of consumers taking back their voice.

Growing Pains

Social media has made us more aware of our personal interactions. It’s much more difficult to get away with bad manners these days, and when we’re caught acting up it’s no longer a matter between two people. Chances are, an entire audience is listening in on the conversation, and weighing in, too.

Many of us remember the days of the hard sell and marketing blizzards to get our attention. The more noise they created, the more difficult it was to hear our own voice. But social networks have changed the way we communicate. We’re beginning to understand the power of opinions via the Internet. Customers are demanding authenticity and honesty, and this is spilling over into our conversations and interactions with people.

This is not a surprise to me as former FBI counterintelligence agent. To develop human intelligence sources (humint), I’ve always had to compete on a different level, one that demanded a high level of customer service. My “customers” demanded that I know each one personally and give them personal attention.

Anatomy of Good Manners

Using good manners is the key to building a good network of people. Being well mannered is more than showing politeness and respect to others. It is treating them as someone of value. Graciousness is the purest form of selling because it involves hope and goodwill as well as exchanging goods or services for money.

While working against foreign spies, my goal was to surround my target with people I trusted to provide me with accurate information. Your target may be a new customer or market but selling personal gain is the goal for everyone. Good manners are a technique to build a better network to achieve this goal.

FBI Lessons

Here are lessons I learned as an FBI agent about the importance of being well mannered:

>People aren’t stupid. It is always a mistake to underestimate the intelligence of other people. I treated the foreign spies—the targets of my investigations—as smart prospects who were capable of making decisions for themselves. Once presented with the facts, people can make choices based on information.

>Manipulation doesn’t work. This is one of the first lessons I learned as a counterintelligence agent. Manipulation is like extortion—it may get initial results but the cooperation is never long lasting. Sugar-coating ideas or products does not ensure success

>Word of mouth advertising does work. By making it a habit to treat both my targets—and the people with whom my target associated—with courtesy, I ensured that my reputation among my nest of spies was one of integrity. Personal recommendations are more powerful than sales, marketing, or advertising.

>Social media is making transparency easier. Consistency in product and performance are key elements in recruiting a foreign spy—and attracting new customers. Social media is creating a shift in traditional public relations by creating fan-friendly markets. It is no longer as easy to say one thing and then do another because customers can now compare notes with others on the Internet.

What shifts in trends have you noticed in social media and good manners? How do you think social networks are promoting good manners? What tips do you have for increasing customer satisfaction utilizing social media?

Join The Conversation

  • Apr 12 Posted 5 years ago netiquette

    Thank you for sharing your expert knowledge of <a href="">proper netiquette</a>. Great Tips.  I learned people are not stupid by reading the Constitution.  I still jump to conclusions sometimes though and that is how people get manipulated. A lie is still a lie.  <a href=""></a>.

  • Apr 10 Posted 5 years ago Catarina Alexon (not verified)

    Seems the articles I wrote on social media that you read inspired you, LaRae. ::)) 

  • LaRaeQuy's picture
    Apr 5 Posted 5 years ago LaRaeQuy

    Thanks, Nick. It's interesting how things go full circle - I remember the caustic days of Murphy Brown, and I loved it - then. But now I find people really respond to politeness, honesty, and respect.

  • Nick Bennett's picture
    Apr 4 Posted 5 years ago Nick Bennett I agree, good manners are fundamental in social media management. As you point out it's not just in conversation, but in how you behave, how your products are researched and how you manage feedback. Social media is leading us to an era of involvement and trust. Many businesses have now benefited from good old-fashioned manners and invitation.
  • Apr 4 Posted 5 years ago Billy Bid4Me Au... (not verified)

    This is so true, I have noticed that by being friendly and helpfull with all that call me I have gotten some clients from referals. and this is the best kind of business.

  • Apr 3 Posted 5 years ago CNA Programs (not verified)

    Social media is full of trolls I don't see the good manners you're talking about .

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