handsSocial communities are just that-social. StumbleUpon, Sphinn, MySpace, FaceBook, and countless other channels are essentially places where people, ranging from like-minded allies to diametrically different provocateurs, congregate and intermingle.

Online communities mirror the physical world as we share, debate, and interact to the greater good of the collective. It’s all about getting along, making friends, and building networks through respectful and appropriate interactions. We are positively judged for good behavior and kicked off the island if we deserve a press of the dumb-ass button.

Manners Totally Matter
It’s astounding how social media vernacular is sometimes nearly devoid of traditional niceties like “please”, “congratulations”, and “thank you” in typical conversational syntax. Basic stuff our grandmothers taught us somehow seems unnecessary to many. However paying attention to time-honored etiquette warms potential friends’ and long-time associates’ hearts.

Manners still matter more than ever. Remember- these people you’re meeting can’t see your eyes, can’t hear the tone of your voice, and only have the words you type to base their feelings about you on.

Even more importantly an intentional commitment to good manners, as a technique, can quickly build networks and help you gain authority. Enough people lack civility that it’s easy to stand out simply by understanding the basics of being polite without overdoing it or being patronizing.

Manners Take Time.
While the “tactic” of good manners can take significantly more time than the normal run-and-gun Internet banter, the practice can pay serious dividends of friendships and votes at your disposal (diggs, sphinns, stumbles, etc…). As a general rule it’s always better to give more than take, ask people respectfully for what you want, and mark passages politely. Of course it’s impossible to partake in the techniques suggested below with every one of the tens of thousands of readers who visit your blog. Still it’s best-practice to establish new relationships and maintain core friendships with consistently good manners.

Respectful First Interactions
When you first approach someone you truly like, start by thanking them. Contact the person with a short note that says, “I’ve stumbled across your profile several times now. “Thank you for the content you bookmark which is consistently useful to me.” Sign your first name. Don’t promote your blog URL. (They’ll find it soon enough.) Usually the person writes you back. Thank him or her again for following up by saying that you “appreciate the note.”

Then make your first request: “Please remember to send me any content that matters to you so I help publicize it” This sets the table for later when you add the person to the rotation of friends you request endorsement from for content that matters to you.

11 Occasions Where Thoughtful Manners Help
When someone you don’t know visits your profile, contact them to say “thank you for visiting.”

If you pitch content for a vote, say “please consider this content and thank you in advance for your consideration.”

Drop notes to as many people whose myBlogLog badge you see on your website and thank them for stopping by. Visit their blog. Leave your picture behind.

When you get a vote, send a “thank you” note whenever possible. Obviously it’s not possible to thank thousands of voters but do as much as you can.

If you don’t get the vote, thank the person you pitched it to for considering it. Remind him or her that you’re always good for a vote.

Thank folks for comments on your post, especially negative ones.

Vote for comments that disagree with your position.

Send notes to those who disagree and thank for the constructive dialog.

If blogger A bookmarks Blogger B’s post and it makes a community’s homepage, congratulate B and thank him for sharing the content.

Thank others for bookmarking your content.

It should be said that practicing good manners solely as a tactic without being authentic does not work. Coming across as patronizing is worse than not practicing manners at all. However true warmth always shines through in the social media mainstream. Remember these people you’re meeting can’t see your face, can’t hear the tone of your voice, and only have the words you type to hold on to. Make them polite.


  • Rhea Drysdale

    I just wrote about something similar and gave out an award for the Miss Congeniality of Blogs. Nice points though with manners being a huge part of social media. Couldn’t agree more!

  • Marty Weintraub

    Thanks Rhea. I visited the post and enjoy your blog.

  • Derek

    This is a great post. The fact that you lose the physical interaction with people online places a good deal of importance on being polite and respectful.

    In my offline life I always try to be polite and treat people with respect and I think I’ve done a pretty good job of that online as well – and I hope most people that I interact with would agree.

    Your list of examples is a great checklist for anyone to follow and can really set you on the right path.

  • Marty Weintraub

    Thanks Derek-I’m sure I’ve made mistakes by typing hastily and not fully considering effect of my words. I need to pay attention to this myself.

  • Andrew Shotland

    This is a timely post Marty. My local search optimization blog just got introduced to the world (or at least a small portion of web marketers) before I had planned to “launch” it and I thought it would be a good opportunity to explore how some of the viral levers work out there, not to mention a good opportunity to procrastinate. The challenge is that I was (am) dealing with people with powerful voices who I wanted to hear me. You’ve got to talk pretty loud to be heard by these guys and there’s always the chance that you’ll rub them the wrong way and then you’ve got a mess on your hands.

    I’ll keep this post close over the next couple of days.

    And Please remember to send me any content that matters to you so I help publicize it 🙂

  • Marty Weintraub

    Thanks for stopping by Andrew. 🙂

  • Shana Albert

    What a great post!! I was brought up to treat others as you would like to be treated yourself. Of course, my upbringing was to give me the morals and values for life in the “real world”. I follow the same morals and values online in the “virtual world as well”. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Excellent, excellent post!!

  • Mel66

    Well said, Marty. Too many people forget their manners in the informal world of social media.

  • Marty Weintraub

    Thanks Mel, It’s always nice when you stop by.

  • John Faris

    Great advice Marty. I’ve added the RSS. I’m glad you highlighted the importance of authenticity. Being genuine in your communication is key to engaging with others on social media sites and blogs.

  • Bobby Revell

    Nice to meet you Marty! I totally agree. My entire blog is based on building strong friendships with other bloggers. I depend on these friendships and they depend on me. I wouldn’t be anything without these incredible relationships.

    Another thing I take great pride in is replying to EVERY comment, whether it be 1 or 150. My readers comeback to see my replies and I go back to read theirs. It’s a lot of work, but these relationships are built on politeness and genuine heart! Blogging is a powerful medium for communication and many of us miss all the beautiful glory by forgetting to be nice! Great post:)

  • Marty Weintraub

    John and Bobby, welcome. I appreciate your participation our community.

  • ผ้าม่าน พาหุรัด

    Anonymity brings diffusion of responsibility and loss of well-versed manners, law of humankind. The internet brings anonymity, so I wouldn’t be waiting on changes any time soon unfortunately.