You may have heard the term pay-it-forward, but now think in the digital mindset of post-it-forward. “Digital hugs” are crucial in a world with decreased face time. You may feel pretty confident in your face-to-face skills, but have you mastered digital messaging?
The power of posting-it-forward is monumental. In fact, you will attract more followers digitally in two days than you will in two months if you show interest in them versus trying to get them interested in you. Before you jump into hyper-speed posting mode, let’s sharpen your digital messaging skills. Online communication is much different than offline communication; 93 percent of all communication is non-verbal. Think about that for a moment. Digitally we are only using a fraction of our communication skills.
Since most communication is non-verbal, it’s easy to convey the wrong tone, or worse, the wrong meaning in our digital messaging. Here are a few tips to help you avoid such misunderstandings:
- Greet the correspondent by name.
- Use emoticons, like 😉 if appropriate.
- Save the “Dear,” “Mr.,” and “Madam.” Over 50% of the world’s population is under 30 years old and aren’t necessarily accustomed to, nor respond to, formal or business writing. (Note: In Asia and other parts of the world this formality, however, is still expected. Understand the different cultures you are dealing with and if unsure, error on the side of being more polite and formal).
- Use greetings like “Hi,” “Hello,” and “this is.” Also use exclamation points where appropriate.
- In most instances avoid complaints and sarcasm as these don’t translate well digitally.
- Sign-off with your name. This personalization can change the tone of your post and it only takes a second. Get in the habit of using friendly sign-offs likeCheers, Best, Warm Regards, or Digital Hugs. If near a holiday or weekend make sure to acknowledge it: “Have a great weekend” or “Happy Holidays!”
- Proof before sending any digital communication or posting one online. One letter can throw off the meaning of the entire message (e.g. cant versus can) and will cause unnecessary confusion and clarification messages.
- If you don’t know an answer, send a quick response indicating you are checking into the question, but that it may take sometime. This reply helps avoid the sender feeling ignored.
- Some things are still best handled offline (e.g., if you are upset with your boss).
- Praise publicly and criticize privately.
- Try to avoid the use of “I” in your digital communication.
- When you make a mistake offline or online, own up to it and get in front of it. Remember it’s not usually the crime that is the issue it’s the cover-up
Most importantly, be authentic and let your language be light and free. These simple tools will help you find your digital voice. Now use your voice for good, post-it-forward, and be a positive force for change in this world.
More information can be found in my book Digital Leader: 5 Simple Keys to Success and Influence
Photos by Shuttershock