Network Etiquette: Rules of Business Communication in Social Networks

Business correspondence has long gone beyond e-mail. Students and teachers are actively communicating via social networks and instant messengers. What are the characteristics of business communication channels? What are the rules of communication in these channels? The answers we learnt from lecturer of the Department of Russian Language and Literature of the Institute of Media, Social Sciences and Humanities of South Ural State University Alena Tezina.

- Please tell us, can business correspondence be carried out via social networks or instant messengers?

- For business communication, all communication channels, including instant messengers, can be used. All modern specialists should be able to use this channel, because every day is filled with business communication. It is important to remember that business communication in instant messengers has its own specific rules, but all the general rules of the official business style apply there.

- That is, the correspondence on WhatsApp will not become more informal?

- Messengers are an informal environment where personal communication is carried out using short messages. It is a medium of conversational style. It is an emotional environment; formal business style rules do not apply there. But if you decide to communicate with your teacher on a messenger, then you certainly need to readjust immediately and start writing correctly, respectfully, clearly, and competently. It is important to follow all the rules of spelling and punctuation and, of course, the netiquette (or network etiquette).

- What are the differences between business correspondence on messengers an communicating by e-mail?

- First of all, it is important to understand that instant messengers are convenient to use for solving urgent, small issues. You will not receive advice on your thesis via messenger. This is due to the volume of messages. Where an e-mail should not occupy more than half of an A4 page, a message via messenger should be even shorter, but this should not affect its contents. In addition, the structure of the text differs. First you need to say hello, then introduce yourself, and only then state the essence of the issue. There will be no signature in this case.

- Why do you need to introduce yourself at the beginning of the message?

- You need to identify yourself and explain to your interlocutor who you are. In social networks and instant messengers, users often hide behind obscure nicknames and depersonalized images. Therefore, your interlocutor may not understand who is contacting them with a request or proposal. And if we are talking about a teacher who works with more than one hundred students during each semester, the situation becomes even more complicated. Funny stories resulting from not following this elementary rule are a dime a dozen among teachers.

- How, then, do you end the message?

- With a period. Just a period. We understand that messages in instant messengers are read on the go. Additional polite phrases, which are simply mandatory in classic business letters or in electronic business letters, will only slow down the correspondence. But it’s important not to interrupt your message mid-sentence. And one more small remark: do not try to answer instantly, and do not expect this from your interlocutor. It’s not correct.

Photo: A.V. Tezina, lecturer, Department of Russian Language and Literature

- Can I use emoticons on messengers?

- Although the correspondence is being conducted in an “informal” territory, you should be cautious of using emoticons. Of course, they will help you express emotions that are so lacking in indirect communication, which will help the interlocutor understand your text better. However, like in any business letter, these emojis can show your flippant attitude to the conversation. Emoticons are only relevant if you are personally acquainted with the correspondent and are confident in their adequate reaction.

- What other elements of informal communication are inappropriate in business correspondence via social networks?

- Students often split their message into small parts, short messages, sometimes consisting of phrases or even single words. This is characteristic of colloquial speech. That is how we speak. But in business correspondence via messenger or social network, you should not do this; the whole text should fit in one message, and the phrases in it should be concise and understandable. If you force the teacher to scroll through a long correspondence to search for the essence of the question or for a clear answer, then you’re just wasting their time and causing unnecessary negative emotions. It is also poor practice to use CapsLock. Text written in CapsLock is always perceived as “screaming”, and this goes beyond business etiquette.

- Are these rules followed when the conversation is held in live chat?

- All the rules of business communication must be respected in business chats. You must understand that you shouldn’t “clog” the business space with personal problems and emotional responses. We encountered this problem when we conducted online lectures and used chat in parallel. At some points, students had to be stopped and reminded that we were working. Distracting yourself during business communication is natural, I would even say it is necessary, but these breaks should be short, because we are in a business situation.

- Where can I learn more about business correspondence?

- Students of SUSU are taught how to conduct business correspondence by teachers of the Department of Russian Language and Literature in the course "Russian Language and Culture of Speech." For those who want to deepen their knowledge, I advise reading the manual “Russian Language. Culture of Speech. Business Communication” (by L.A. Vvedenskaiia) or “Lectures on the Basics of Business Communication Technologies” (by T.V. Tulupyeva).

Read more on this topic:

Network Etiquette: Rules of Business Correspondence
SUSU Philologist Told about Rules of Network Etiquette in Business Correspondence

Daria Tsymbaliuk, photo: personal archive of A.V. Tezina
Contact person: 
Daria Tsymbaliuk, tel.: 272-30-11
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