Etiquette & Social Media from our Social Media Guy

Etiquette, such a funny word. There are books about etiquette, there are even etiquette classes, and back in the day I believe an A in etiquette was required to graduate from Wellesley. As someone who always says “Please” and “Thank You,” I wonder why it’s so hard for some people to add these three words into their vocabulary? If you can’t say “Please” or “Thank you” why should I expect you to give up your seat on the subway for me, or offer to hold the door when I’m struggling with 3 iced coffees for my office mates. People struggle with etiquette in their day to day lives so why wouldn’t they struggle online, in the social media realm?

The concept of social media and being an active online user is about adding value to a topic, a brand, a company, or a discussion. It’s all about being a valuable participant. And to be seen as a valuable participant you must provide valuable content presented in a way that can not only benefit the community manager, but more importantly that the other active online users can benefit from. In a polite and respectful way...

Currensee’s Facebook page is certainly no exception. While feedback from the community is always welcomed, positive or negative, how that feedback is presented is important. Are you offering a genuine critique with the hopes of improving the site and its features, or are you couching a hidden agenda and a bad attitude in a suggestion wrapped around an insult? Currensee’s engineers and CIO are continuously working on improvements to the site and its features. It’s a small team with a huge workload. Providing constructive criticism is helpful in shaping the direction and priorities of the team—after all, is all about the end user!

Earlier this week, one of Currensee’s Facebook community managers posted an innocuous update, wishing Warren Buffett a happy birthday and wrapping it into a theoretical question about how the Oracle of Omaha might trade the EURUSD.

The update clearly stated this one was “just for fun.” Facebook is all about community after all; if the page solely posted dry forex news, it would be…dry. Dull. The page is meant to engage the community, to share information and resources, and to reflect the lifestyle of forex traders worldwide. Updates are a mix of news, events, helpful blog posts and articles, and Currensee-specific information. So what happened? One community member posted a comment calling it a “useless message” and a “waste of time,” and rather we should be focusing on the 10,000 items he’s previously identified as lacking.

Every public social entity has its detractors and complainers, no matter what industry.  But for those lobbing balls of flaming criticism, I ask you to consider the following:

  • Is your criticism constructive? Are you offering genuine suggestions that would improve the service/product/community/experience of your recipient?
  • What do you hope to accomplish by posting? Be explicit. If you’re a regular complainer, what’s your agenda (beyond showing the community your angry face)? Have a goal set before you start banging the keyboard with your angry fingers.
  • What do you expect as a response? What is your desired outcome?

Offering specific, actionable critiques rather than just blithely bitching demonstrates a real interest in resolution and/or improvement. Otherwise, you’re just a crank—and soon enough, you will be ignored.

What about you? Where do you see etiquette lacking online? We love your feedback.

About the author: David Ginsburg - Founder, The Hector Fund, Managing Director, // Hector’s chief strategist and tactician, David is a Social Media geek who doesn’t understand why everyone isn’t spending 16 hours per day participating in the Social Web. David’s background in radio promotion and programming provided a strong foundation in how to build, engage and sustain an audience–exactly what marketers everywhere are trying to do with Social Media.


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