Let’s face it. Etiquette is a lost art. Forget “interruption marketing” for a minute and think about how people interact on a regular basis. New technologies change that behavior as people seek to leverage the convenience they provide.
- When the phone was invented, an etiquette had to evolve on how to greet a new call, what’s an appropriate time to call, how to converse without interruption. (Lots of room to improve here still – I can’t understand why politicians don’t have to follow the “do not call” list rules, but that’s another story).
- Email etiquette arguably doesn’t exist – in a business context, companies have a culture around when people turn to email and when they don’t. Email between friends and family has a broad range of what’s “socially acceptable,” but over time people at least develop a sense of when people will reply and why.
- Two years ago, no way I’d tell you that it would be acceptable to converse via text message/SMS with grandparents. Same with instant messaging.
In each of these small examples, the communication is mostly 1:1. Email can be broadcast 1:many, but it’s deliberate who the communication goes to – you select email addresses to include. Enter the world of Facebook, where the communication paradigm is different. We have 1:many as the default – post once and share with many, who consume the content (status updates, photos, videos, links) at their leisure. Forget that most people don’t have a common understanding of what they see in the News Feed and why. The barrier to communication is low – it’s easy to share a picture or post given so many ways to share, from mobile to desktop.
Sometimes people forget that the communication medium isn’t important – the content of the message is, along with the dynamic. Is it something that should be shared 1:1 or OK to share 1:many? Making that choice with the context to understand the medium is crucial in relationship building – for businesses or individuals.
I recently asked some folks on Twitter and Facebook about etiquette, and heard many bizarre stories. From the unexpected sonogram photo to first hearing of a family death, people are choosing Facebook for the wrong type of communication at the wrong time. Have an example to share? Do you thing Facebook etiquette is a lost art or a lost cause?
Photo credit: fdmount via flickr