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Social Rules in the Digital World

We have social rules in society. For instance, we don’t sneeze into our hand then immediately shake someone else’s hand. Some people have difficulty understanding social rules in real life. To further complicate these social rules, they vary from culture to culture. Now, introduce the Internet and it’s latest craze, social media. To be in, hip, popular, and just not ignored on the Internet right now, you must be "social." For businesses, this means engaging your customers.

A great example is Comcast’s Frank Eliason and his use of Twitter. Frank created the Twitter account @ComcastCares and started using keyword searches with tools like Summize to find customer’s complaining about Comcast’s service and he tackled these problems directly, one on one. Rather than the customer reaching out to Comcast, Frank reached out to the customer and redefined customer service on the Internet. Now many companies use Twitter and blog searches to engage customers, retain customers, and repair their corporate image.

Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh took the Zappos core value #6 "Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication" to an extreme by encouraging staff to embrace Twitter and blogging. Tony tweets as @zappos and blogs under the Zappos CEO and COO Blog. Even though he is a busy CEO, he takes time to respond to people like me. That’s engagement!

So what of social rules online? Just read comments at a major media outlet such as and see how the power of apparent anonymity can turn the uninitiated Internet neophyte, what I would assume is a normally decent human being, into a royal ass. I see horrible comments in such forums that I cannot imagine a person having the audacity to utter in mixed company in person. Twitter is undeniably one of the best examples of social media on the Internet. In 140 characters, you share with your followers (and the world if your Tweets are not set to private) the mundane in your life, the news, announcements, or whatever suits your mood. Seems simple enough, but there are unwritten, social rules which have formed around the service. Genuine Jeremy Floyd polled his followers and published Rules of the Road-Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Twitterverse. If you feel his list needs expanding, head over to his blog and add your social rules in his comments. You can also send him a message through Twitter @jfloyd.