Please tell me how you'd like me to talk to you

A friend in Dubai recently e-mailed me with the subject line: "a note about the e-mail I owe you."

In the message, which she sent to practically everyone she knows, she said she needed to own up to how bad she is at returning e-mails.

I e-mailed her to say Bravo! and asked what was the response from our other friends. She said it felt great to have the in-box albatross off her neck -- and this was her way of not just reaching out, but also getting more organized.

When there are a variety of ways to communicate with people -- text, instant messages, Twitter, etc. -- shouldn't it also be a part of netiquette to learn what form of communication people prefer?

EcardEmail In other words, if a person hates voice mail, don't use it. If someone only wants to be contacted via e-mail, respect that.

In the case of my Dubai friend, she's not bad at communicating: she uses Facebook daily, chats with people via Skype and Google instant messaging, and still uses old-school devices like the phone and even writes actual letters. What I thought was great was that she articulated all of her communication preferences to her friends.

I think this is even more important in professional situations, because it gives you a chance to distinguish yourself. Everyone's got the e-mail signature that lists the variety of ways they can be contacted (Follow me on Twitter! Read my Blog!).

But I think in the rush to be available to everyone on all platforms, we've failed to indicate the way we prefer to be contacted.

This goes both ways: It's not just about asking people how they would like to communicate, but also about making your own preferences clear.

Anyone who has ever called my work phone knows that for years, my voice mail has contained a message asking public relations professionals to e-mail me (if they don't have it, I spell out my e-mail address.)

There are a few reasons, but mostly, it's because I like to store things via e-mail so I can go back -- even if months later, to retrieve what was sent. I'm not opposed to picking up the phone: sometimes, that's the fastest and most efficient way to communicate. It just seems, though, like SUCH a waste of time to retrieve voice mails when it's just easier to have that email as a record. (And for those who ask, no, the Herald doesn't have any type of automatic transcriptions of voice mails, or then I wouldn't be so picky about this.)

And that's my point, as well. It's not just about courtesy, it's about efficiency. These days, couldn't we all use a bit more of both?

What's your preference, or pet peeve on this matter? Weigh in below, please:

Posted by Niala Boodhoo on | | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Top 5 social media screwups of 2009

Neverspeakof2009 As we make our resolutions for the new year, we often reflect on our regrets or mistakes made during the past year.

And boy, there sure were some major online etiquette train wrecks in 2009.

Here at Poked, we realize that every day we're all learning new things about netiquette and best practices. Social media is constantly evolving, and tools like Twitter were new for tons of people this year -- especially folks trying to jump on the trend and use it as a business and customer relations tool.

So today we count down the five worst (and most frequently committed) online faux pas that we witnessed in 2009. Hopefully, history won't repeat itself in 2010.

5. Following porn. Sometimes people have a bad habit of automatically following back everyone who follows them on Twitter -- and it's especially true for people who use Twitter for business. They think if they use a tool to automatically follow back everyone, then they will have a more popular account.

But it just makes you look like a social media loser when you don't pay attention to the names and bios of who you follow (like hotsuzy_camgirl), and you start following accounts created for porn or for spam.

4. Talking smack about your job online. If you wouldn't say it to the boss, don't say it on Facebook or Twitter. It's amazing how many folks complain about work -- during work hours -- on places like Twitter. Maybe they think their bosses aren't wise enough to see what they're writing. But nothing is truly private online, and someone you work with is likely to see it. Chances are your company doesn't appreciate you broadcasting negative views about the company, and you're left looking like an employee who isn't a team player. Not a good impression to give during tough economic times.

3. Sending private messages publicly. Twitter and Facebook are all about instant communication. But we get so used to responding quickly on the go, that maybe we're moving too fast and not thinking before we hit send. Every so often you'll see someone send a message on Twitter that probably wasn't designed for the world to see. Like: Hey, call my cell 305-555-555 to talk about that exclusive secret business deal.

You can rush to delete it, but nothing is ever erased on Twitter. It gets picked up by search engines, even if it only exists online for a few seconds. Trust us on this one: Bridget learned this the hard way. While using text messages to talk to Niala on Twitter, she intended to send her a direct message and called a certain social media consultant annoying. But it went public. She deleted it within seconds, but it only took a minute for the consultant to see it and comment. Fortunately, that consultant was gracious enough to accept her apology.

2. Responding to e-mail with Reply All. We've had e-mail for awhile now, but it's still a hot zone for netiquette disaster. Why do people hit ``Reply all'' in mass messages when it's not something everyone needs to read? It only adds to the in-box clutter and could make you look foolish.

Back in August, one public relations consultant accidentally put 350 e-mails in a CC field, instead of a BCC field (which privatizes the e-mail addresses). Within two hours, our mailboxes were filled with tons of unsubscribe requests from strangers who hit reply all. It made people annoyed at the PR consultant and everyone who hit reply all.

1. Unintentionally sending spam or malicious links. Please, think twice before you click a strange link. You can't be so trusting on social networks these days. Facebook and Twitter accounts are being infected by malicious links through private messages. Click a strange link (usually something like: Hey you're in this video lolz!!!), and you won't be aware that you sent spam or a virus to most of your connections. And if you are a business account, you just lost the trust and respect of many of your followers.

Did you learn a netiquette lesson the hard way this year? Did someone's social media screwup seriously annoy you? Post a comment below or e-mail us at

Posted by Bridget Carey on | | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Connect your Twitter account with LinkedIn

Today Twitter and LinkedIn announced that they have teamed up to help you cross the social media streams between the two networks.

The feature is slowly being rolled out to LinkedIn users over the next few days, but the LinkedIn blog has a clear description how the cross-posting will work.

I don't support putting every Twitter post on your LinkedIn profile. Niala and I always preach you should be careful when crossing the streams. The network audiences are different, and no one uses the @ symbol in LinkedIn, so the language is sometimes different. Twitter tends to be a mix of personal and business updates, and LinkedIn always keeps a professional tone.

But just by adding a simple #in to your tweet, it can post to your LinkedIn account. And it goes the other way around too -- just check a box while writing your LinkedIn status update to share it with your Twitter followers.

I like the ability to turn it on and off, depending on the message. It's a nice way to save time and make sure only relevant stuff gets shared to both networks, instead of having your Twitter feed vomit all over your LinkedIn page. It can be especially useful when you're looking for input or help from your business connections on both networks at once.

Posted by Bridget Carey on | | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Facebook's new status feature may cause headaches

Last week, Facebook announced another feature that should make you scramble to update your privacy settings.

It's called status tagging, and it's very similar to when you tag your Facebook friends in photos or notes, but you're giving them a trackable shoutout in your status update.

Basically, it's also Facebook's way of making their features more similar to how Twitter works. On Twitter, when you mention someone by name, it's preceded by an @ symbol, which alerts them to the fact you're talking to them.

On Facebook, though, it doesn't happen automatically the way it does with Twitter.

If you want to tag someone in a status update, type in the @ symbol, and without a space, start typing the name of a friend, fanpage or group you want to tag. You'll see a drop-down menu of related people or pages -- just like when you search for someone's name you are already friends with.

Select one of them, and it will automatically put them in your status update.

Here's where the potential for problems comes in: Anytime someone tags you in their status, it will show up on your wall, just like it does now when you're tagged in photos or notes.

So, for example, if you have foul-mouthed friends who have a penchant for tagging you in pictures you don't want your boss to see, you may need to make sure they're not embarrassing you in status updates tags, too.

This is a good time to revisit your settings for who can see what on your profile. If you already have strict settings for people who can/cannot see photos tagged of you, maybe it's time to create a strict setting for who can see your wall. (To do this, click on the ``settings'' tab in the upper right hand corner, next to your name, and then visit ``privacy settings.'')

On another note, it's been almost a year now that we've been writing Poked -- answering your questions and setting some netiquette violators straight. We noticed The New York Times and AdAge just started their own online advice columns last week -- it goes to show you that there's a need out there for learning how to deal with this new way of interacting.

Posted by Bridget Carey on | | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Have an office chat about social media

After all the news last week about the NFL and Twitter, especially how the Miami Dolphins are dealing with things, Bridget and I decided to weigh in, in the hopes that companies and employees can begin a conversation about Twitter. It's two-fold, our message, designed for both bosses and workers, and it's appearing in tomorrow's paper:

Dear Employees: Your Tweets are making us, and your boss, reach for the Maalox.

It's clear that this age of instant communication is at least causing headaches, if not ulcers, for plenty of CEOs. That's especially the case when employees hooked on Twitter and Facebook don't think before they type and share insider information.

Employees need to realize that some conversations are privileged. Just because you're in a meeting about a new product, or worse, layoffs, doesn't mean you should be broadcasting details to the world, 140 characters at a time.

Dear Bosses: You really should talk to your employees about what shouldn't be shared.

If there's a meeting going on and you don't want people to talk about it publicly, say so. Not everyone has the mind-set that everything in a staff meeting is, say, private.

That's because many employees -- especially millennials like Bridget who spent all of their college years on Facebook -- don't always think about the consequences of sharing work information on social networking accounts. They don't see that there should be a reason for them to not share info, nor that there could be negative consequences to sharing what goes on in conference rooms.

No-Tweets-Football-MH202 Many companies -- or organizations, like the NFL -- say they are creating or have created social networking policies that spell these things out. Others have gone to the extreme of simply blocking social networking. Last week, the Miami Dolphins said they were clamping down on players and media tweeting during practice.

Companies shouldn't think of social networking sites as inherently good or bad -- they're just the most recent form of communication. So why not just actually communicate with your workers about what's appropriate and what isn't?

It is a two-way street. Workers should think about whether it makes sense to be talking about things that are public knowledge but sensitive, like layoffs or strategy.

Do you really want your boss to see you broadcasting not-so-great news about your company? How much of an asset are you if you're reminding the world of bad news?

And more importantly, why would someone want a complainer on their team?

Do you think we're being too extreme?

Posted by Niala Boodhoo on | | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Facebook unveils new privacy settings

Hip, hip hooray! Facebook just announced a new series of privacy settings that will give users much more control over who can see what on Facebook.

Basically, their new Publisher Privacy Control will allow you to choose, each time you publish, exactly who sees it. They're rolling it out slowly, to a small group of users, but it will soon be available to everyone.

Facebook's New Privacy Settings Here's how Facebook's Chief Privacy Officer Chris Kelly described it in the blog post: "For example, you may want to make some posts available to everyone, while restricting others to your friends and family. You should be able to make that decision every time you share something on Facebook, and soon you'll be able to do this."

We're thrilled. Finally, you choose, each time you post something, if this is something you want your coworkers, family or friends to see without having to mess around in the confusing privacy interface. You will even be able to send things directly to just two or three people's walls. And, if you're the type of person, like Bridget and I, who have created "groups" of people, this makes those groups suddenly much more useful.

Boca Raton-based Multiply already had this option since 2004 - Bridget wrote about it back in May for its redesign. (If you want to read Bridget's whole post on it, it's here.) Here's an image what it looks like when you upload something to Multiply:

Multiply privacy

It's not the first time we've seen similarities between the sites. Multiply's CEO Peter Pezaris says they had a news feed before Facebook launched its own version. 

Either way, we think it's great that Facebook has acknowledged what a pain their privacy settings have been to use. We're sure this will be a learning curve for most users, as well, considering some people still can't figure out the difference between a wall post and a status update.

We're looking forward to using this feature - and wondering how well it will work to keep certain parts of your Facebook life private.


I spoke with Michael Gersh, Multiply's COO and co-founder, who talked about how the social networking site has had this privacy feature since it launched in 2004. Multiply's audience tends to be families, aka the "Digital Moms," who want to post high resolution photos of baby's first bath with close connections. He said because of that, connections on Multiply have always been set up so they go into categories, like business contacts or family -- meaning not everyone is a "friend." And you can see what friends of friends have publicly posted without connecting to them.

"Facebook added a lot of features after we had it," Gersh said, adding regardless if Facebook modeled it after them or not, "people look to others for innovation."

Posted by Niala Boodhoo on | | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Crossing the Twitter and Facebook streams with new application

A few weeks back, Niala and I cautioned against putting Twitter posts automatically on your Facebook status -- aka: Don't cross the streams. We had many reasons why we don't like it, including how it's just messy to have Twitter code (@s and #s) in a Facebook status.

Well a new application is out that lets you choose which tweets you want to share with Facebook, instead of having them all go out. It's called Selective Twitter Status, and by just typing #fb at the end of your tweet, you are telling it to also share with your Facebook community.

I haven't signed up to use it, but I'm a big fan of the concept. It solves almost all the issues I have with crossing the streams... that is, if you use it right. I still rather post separately, since I believe in the old-school ways of starting my Facebook status messages with a verb, and I never do that on Twitter.

Has anyone out there used it and liked it?

[UPDATE: I gave it a quick test and what's nice is that the "#fb" you type in Twitter doesn't show up on Facebook. But I'm still a Facebook status purist and like my status messages in third-person starting with a verb. Maybe someday I'll give up that fight.]

Posted by Bridget Carey on | | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

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