Thursday, April 2, 2020

21 Tips on Etiquette to be followed by Social Media Users

Use of various social media platforms have increased exponentially during last 2 – 3 years. At the end of 2019, there were 3.50 billion (350,00,00,000) users in the world. No invention in the history of mankind has ever become popular so quickly as this smart service has done. When we buy a new gadget or service, instructions are invariably made available as to its, configuration, installation, operational aspects, etc – as a hardcopy or softcopy, some time in many languages. What the supplier does not provide is the list of behavioural etiquettes to be followed by a user. There many social media platforms. The most popular social media are: Facebook, YouTube, Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, etc. 

Though the functionalities of social media differ depending upon the platform, the list of behavioural etiquettes to be followed by an individual user can be summarized as under (these would be more relevant in the wake of spike in usage of social media due to dreadful pandemic of Corona virus):

1. Rationalization: 

Though the usage of platform may be cheap or free, your time and the time of the receiver/ target audience is not free. Use the platform judiciously. 

2.  You are exposing yourself:

Mind well, your aggressive and intensive use of the media tells more about you rather than what you tell in the post.

3. Haphazard forwarding is disgusting: 

Forwarding is a very easy function in most of the platforms. We use this generously. Without application of mind, we forward it to many contacts, some time to all, as if we are going to get paid per “click”. Your most of such “forwards” irritate the receiver as the functionalities of opening, downloading and reading/viewing them are not so user friendly as that of Forwarding. If you do not mend your ways, you will be muted/blocked – and that can be done without any hint to you. Most importantly, don’t forward any message when you doubt its authenticity. 

4. Intolerance to other caste, creed, colour, gender or religion:

Whatever ideology you have about other caste, creed, colour or religion; show maturity, tolerance and respect them all. If you do not follow this rule, you will be in trouble under some rule framed by the authority. 

5. Don’t show an individual or organisation in dim light

Do not share your negative views or bad personal experience about an individual or organisation on social media. It will boomerang. Your genuine concerns should be taken up on one-to-one basis directly with the concerned individual or organisation.    
6.  Don’t crack a joke about an individual, though very close to you

Though your joke may be just for a fun, level of appetite for your fun varies from individual to individual. We do not know when and why our best of the friends might get offended. In spite of this advice, you want to cajole your friend by your joke, use phone and tell him.

7.  Initiate an original topic of practical value

If you are gifted with good grey matter, initiate an original topic of practical value. Even though, you have not requested the receiver to forward, it will be forwarded to many. You can share your experience to make others aware to steer away from a trouble spot in which you might have been bogged down.

8. Follow the rules of the Group

If you are a member of a social media Group, follow the rules framed by the Group. Appreciate the responsibilities of the Admin. Do not post a message in the Group when it is meant for a particular individual. Use a one-to-one communication channel.

9. Maintain decency of the content 

Do not post (even to your confidants or confidantes) vulgar photos, videos, jokes, memes, pranks, threats, etc on social media - such content has a propensity to travel too far, too fast. Sanitize your content before posting. Our irresponsible postings pollute the social media. Decency is not only about content, it also about respecting the seniors, elders and public authority. 

10. You exploit the social media, do not allow reverse to happen

Social media is a powerful tool for business networking, communication tool for business, keeping abreast of the developments in your area of interest. Exploit it. Rake up the Google to know how best you can do this. Do not allow the media to exploit you and eat away your time.

11. Respond at the earliest

Though it is difficult, (if your are receiving many messages to respond quickly to each message in a suitable manner) it is a good netiquette to respond to each message as soon as possible. Work/Business message must be responded quickly. 

12. Do not show off / flaunt

Do not post any content whereby you want to show off/ flaunt your worldly possession / power rather than genuinely informing about the same to your contacts.  

13. Do not impersonate (hide your identity)

While Registration / opening the a/c, give your correct bio-data. Do not hide your identity. When you are connected with internet, it is difficult to hide yourself.

14.  Language and Grammar

Language is always under evolution process irrespective of its age. A new language is emerging amongst netizens wherein new words, abbreviations, icons and emojis are being used. And grammar? Nobody knows what will happen to it. However, it is advisable to use correct grammar and only familiar abbreviations.  

15. Complete typing your message and send in a single shot

Write your full text message, better read it and send it in a single shot. Do not send each sentence separately on its completion. If photos/videos are sent, add suggestive caption.   

16. Never make a joke out of someone’s pitiable situation

Getting fun by posting a jocular content created from someone’s pitiable situation hurts the subject person the most and more than that it reflects on your sadistic inclination. 

17. Do not send messages to a person below “legal age”

Such messages could be misinterpreted by children as their way of thinking is different from adults. Besides, parents might be got offended if you communicate with their children. 

18. Connected but distanced 

Stories are rife vouching that social media connects us and that is no doubt true. It is also equally true that improper messages can sour your relationship, particularly amongst the youth and lovebirds. Your small mistake will be amplified, just to ignite up a dispute. Unfortunately, such ugly stories are hardly relayed on the social media. Be diplomatic rather than telling a spade, a spade.

19. Leaving the group

If you find that the group’s objectives are not served well, mute or rather better leave the group. You do not owe any obligation to explain why you left. Likewise, if somebody leaves the group, make no issue.

20. Choose proper time for posting

Post your messages at the time which suits the receiver. Consider the convenience of the receiver, not yours. 

21. Daily dose of morning feed

Do you like receiving everyday a daily dose of “Good Morning”, some inspiring proverb, idiom, quotes, icons, emojis, from a particular contact? No. The moral is: Please do not administer such dose to your contacts. 

Do you find this list too long? May be. The reason is: some of us have gone too far in vitiating the social media. At times, the abuse is so offending that the State has to impose restrains. 

(Readers’ comments are welcome at

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

How to write an effective E-mail

With the advent of technology, the way we communicate is changed and still it is going to change. Most of the times, we communicate through verbal communication. However, written communication, since the origin of hieroglyphs in Egypt 4000 years ago, has not lost its importance. 

In business world and public administration after lots of verbal communication, things are eventually reduced in writing which removes any uncertainty and confusion. In case of any dispute or loss of “organisational memory”, written communication would have the final word. Most importantly, emails (for that matter any digital records) can be produced as an evidence in a court if certain conditions are complied with as per Indian Evidence Act 1872, read with Information Technology Act 2000. 

The use of email is increasing day by day in formal communication replacing the “hardcopy” to a large extent. Speed, low cost, easy retrieval, multiple “dispatch” at a time (CC, BCC), forwarding, attachments, savings on paper, etc are some of many advantages the email has over snail mail. No wonder why email is becoming so popular as a channel of communication all over the world.

An email could be said a hybrid offspring of century old art of letter writing and modern technology of internet. As such, a few aspects of letter writing are seen to have been diluted in email. With spread of internet, our skill of formal writing is unfortunately eroding day by day. Writing an email which engages the attention of the receiver and evokes expected response is an important skill. Here are a few tips on what it takes to write an effective email:

  1. Collect the information (and sometime records also) on the subject matter and thoroughly appreciate the facts and purpose of writing (rather say sending) the email.
  2. Identify “ To”  addressee (the main recipients to whom it is to be sent)  which is generally easy but identifying “CC” and “BCC” addressee needs application of mind. As endorsing an email by CC and BCC is quite easy, we are tempted to distribute it to unrelated parties, and some time indiscriminately. We must bear in mind that in spite of all precautions, digital matter has great propensity to reach anywhere.
  3. Subject line is very important. It is like a visage of a person or a facade of a building. It should sound attractive but also should comprehend the essence of the email. A “complete sentence” as subject line is not a good idea. Prefer a succinct phrase, e.g. rather than Please make travel arrangement for my visit to Head Office write Travel arrangement for visit to Head Office. The subject is very important if the email is sent to an unknown recipient or it is sent for sales promotion. A well phrased subject line prompts the recipient to open the email.
  4.  The content of the body of the email starts with salutations/greetings. An appropriate salutation will make the recipient feel like read the content of the body. Depending upon the official relation or familiarity with recipient, salutation words/phrase is to be chosen. Do not choose words which might offend the recipient or indicates that you are not careful in salutation. In official email  Dear Sir/Dear Madam (any one when the gender is known) or Dear Sir/Madam (when the gender is not known) is considered an appropriate salutation. When the recipient is of equal or lower in rank, Dear Mr (Surname) can also be used.  Mind the spelling of surname. In salutation, do not use the words: To whomsoever it may concern, Dear All, Hi there!, Hello, Hi Guys, etc in a formal email. Any of these will be considered perfunctory by the recipient.
  5. You can also add a line: Kind: Attention ____________ ______ , particularly when the email is sent to a big organisation and you know the person by whom the matter is being dealt with. However, it is also to be borne in mind that some employees are averse to such marking in their name. 
  6. Introduce your organisation if the recipient unaware about the same.
  7. Now the most crucial part of the email begins, i.e. the main body of the email:
Give reference of the /trailing email/previous email/ correspondence/conversation, if any  and making it a stepping stone, state more facts and further developments, if any, in the matter. If there is no previous reference to be discussed/quoted, introduce the matter with facts and why the issue has come up. Be brief. Mind well, brevity should not be at the cost of clarity because what clarity you have about the matter as a “man on the spot”, the same level of clarity should not be presumed from the receiver.  Explore the possibility whether the presentation of the matter in tabular format will help the recipient to comprehend the matter quickly. Supporting documents should, making an allusion (mention) to this effect in the body itself, be furnished as attachment rather than narrating them in full details in the body of the email. The body should be divided into 2 – 3 paragraphs as per the main focus / purport of the matter to be presented in the paragraph. 

The ultimate aim of writing the email is to get the receiver convinced to initiate certain actions and induce him/her to do the same. The penultimate (the last but one) paragraph of the main body of the email will present this request (also called submission). This paragraph generally begins with one of such signpost phrases e.g. In view of the above, we request/advise you to do so and so forth  or We, therefore, request/advise you to do so and so forth.
  1. Closing (concluding) the email is also equally important as this last portion will be attracting the reader’s attention most. The closing line should be in consonance with the gist of the matter in the main body and the position of the receiver and sender. Generally any one of  following lines go in the closing part:
- Looking forward to hearing from you soon.
- Looking to your favourable response / response.
- Should you need more information, please let us know.
- Thanking you in anticipation.
-Please keep us posted with the developments.
-We assure you to resolve the issue in due course.
- I look forward to hearing from you soon
       9.   Expression of gratitude / appreciation (just above the and Signature)

             A customary phrase is added, particularly when the recipient is in higher position or    
             not so familiar with the sender. These phrases could be one of the of the following as per    
             “circumstances” of the email:

·         Thanking you
·         Thanks for your time
·         Thanking you in anticipation
·         Thanks for acceding to my/our request
·         Thanks (sounds very terse, should be avoided for seniors)
·         Thanks for consideration
·         Thanks for kind consideration
·         I/We appreciate your help and thank you a lot
·         Thanks and Regards / Thanks and Kind Regards/ Warm Regards (When you want to show respect to the receiver)
·         With Best Regards
·         Keep it up (to encourage the juniors while responding to a good work done)
·         This could not have been possible but for your kind support / guidance / co-operation

    10.    Signature (also called Valediction / Sign Off), Name, Mob No., E mail ID
            There are elaborate rules when you sign a letter. However, in the case of email, norms are    
            “Dynamic” :  following the full set rules  as followed in the  case of a letter or just putting –
            (Your Name) or vibrant and vivid automatically added Signature  
            Block (which itself could be a good topic for full length blog) with photographs, 
            Companylogo, Product  Banner, etc. However, formality   should be followed 
            when the email receiver is a  senior person or a  valued customer. 
           Yours faithfully, and after single line space, your name. Add your Mobile Number,
           Designation, Company Name, website of the Company.

11.     Spell check the email. Do it carefully as Spell Check function of the system can not be relied upon fully.

12.     Format the email properly : Indent, Line spacing, Font type, size, bold, italics, colour etc. 
          Do not use ALL CAPITALS for 
          entire sentence. Do not use fancy and / or cursive fonts. Use bold, italics, colour  sparingly.

Compare your past 2 – 3 emails in the backdrop of what have been discussed above and check yourself as to how do you fare.

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