Netiquette - A key factor for a successful business

Det är faktiskt särskilt viktigt för företag att bete sig korrekt på webben och i sociala medier för att ge en bra bild av sig själva till potentiella kunder. Att följa en uppsättning regler för korrekt och artig onlinekommunikation blir därför ännu mer nödvändigt för dem än för andra. Denna uppsättning regler kallas Netiquette och styr en Internetanvändares artiga beteende i förhållande till andra användare via resurser som mailinglistor, forum, bloggar, sociala nätverk eller e-post i allmänhet. .

Competences addressed/ learning outcomes expand_more

After completing this Learning resource participants will be able to:  
- Critical thinking
- Empathy 
- Effective communication
- Verbal communication
- Writing communication


The objectives of this learning resource can be summarised as below:
- Know what netiquette is and understand its impact for a social business entrepreneur
- Learn how to practice the basic rules of netiquette
- Learning technical skills useful for the beneficiaries business, through Design Thinking tools

Theoretical background expand_more

Communication can be defined as the process of understanding and sharing meanings (J. Pearson & P. Nelson, 2000). Although this concept applies to all types of communication, additional elements such as preparation, practice, and perseverance are needed when it comes to effective communication.  This is especially important for those who want to start or have started their own business, because communication will be critical to the success of the venture. Oral and written communication skills are consistently ranked among the top ten desired skills by employer surveys year after year. Building on this, one way for an entrepreneur to succeed is to increase his or her effective speaking and writing skills. This activity will consider the form of online written communication and the proper ways to put it into practice.

In fact, it is of particular importance for businesses to maintain proper behavior on the web and social media so as to give a good image of themselves to potential customers. Therefore, following a set of rules for proper and polite online communication becomes even more necessary for them than for others. This set of rules is called Netiquette, that governs an Internet user's polite behavior in relation to other users through resources such as mailing lists, forums, blogs, social networks, or e-mail in general. Remember, what is published online remains. Before expressing thoughts, considerations and feelings, it is also good to keep in mind the zero principle of the internet: what you write or publish on the web remains and has its own relevance both empathically and legally, just like the actions you take in a real dimension with the interlocutor in front of you and not behind the screen. One more reason to apply the principles of digital etiquette.
Regulated in 1995 by the IETF working group within the Responsible Use of the Network (RUN) text, so far it has been continuously updated and adapted according to new media.
Even so, it is possible to report some commonly shared rules:
Respect: Treating everyone with courtesy, kindness, and appreciation, even if you disagree with them. 
Appropriate Language: Refraining from profanity and slander and using language that is appropriate for the situation. It also means to avoid writing in CAPITAL letters, which on the web, by convention, is equivalent to shouting and an aggressive tone.
- Privacy: Respect other people's privacy by avoiding discussing personal matters without their permission. This includes a ban on publishing personal information and sensitive data of other users without first asking for consent, if any. Please also remember not to infringe the copyright of the content available on the network.
Be professional and courteous: respect colleagues and show understanding of different opinions. Also, be aware of your digital footprint, and don't be afraid to ask questions.
Be mindful of the impact of your words: be judicious with criticism and constructive with feedback.

To learn and teach more about netiquette and its rules, you can use the resources and literature references at the end of this learning material.

Step-by-step implementation expand_more

In this section you will find step-by-step instructions for implementing the activity. The tools that will be used are Mind Map and Group Work. The women with migrant backgrounds will work in a small group of 6-8 learners. This activity can be proposed in the middle of the training path for social entrepreneurship, as an exercise to learn new skills useful for future female entrepreneurs.

STEP 1 (20 minutes): to begin with, explain to the group that today they will learn what netiquette is and how best to use it to grow their social business. Explain to them that it is a critical skill for having good and effective relationships with customers and various stakeholders. Write the following definition of netiquette on the board: 
The set of informal rules governing the proper and polite behavior of users on the web
Then ask the group: if this set of rules is not adopted, what could be the problem(s) for an entrepreneur and her social business? The goal is to emphasize the negative consequences of inappropriate use of online communication. To gather their answers, use the "problem redefinition technique" from Design Thinking methods. The problem redefinition technique is a group method in which you present the problem and hand out blank notes to the participants, who will have 10 minutes to complete the following question: "For me, the problem is...". They are encouraged to define as many ideas as possible (maximum ten times per participant), numbering them in order of importance. At the end of the time, collect the participants' ideas on the board and reflect together on the issues that have arisen. The group should then come to a common definition, comparing the ideas of each of them, of the possible problem of misuse of online communication.
STEP 2 (30 minutes)
Invite participants to imagine receiving an email complaint from a customer, who was not satisfied with the service provided and requests a refund of the product purchased. You can help the participants by writing an example of a protest e-mail like the following on the blackboard:
Dear Director,

I am writing to express my dissatisfaction with the holiday my fiancé and I paid for. We paid a total of 2000 euros for a week at the seaside. On your website it says that the hotel we paid for is near the sea.  BUT THAT'S A BIG LIE! The sea is at least 50 kilometres away from the hotel we were staying in. And to get to the beach there is a bus that only runs twice a day. Absurd. In addition, the swimming pool was being repaired and we could not sleep at night because there were no curtains in the room. In the restaurant they only offered dishes with fish which we don't like. We want to be refunded immediately! 



Before responding to the customer using the rules of netiquette, the participants must think about and describe the customer of this hypothetical service. The method that will be used is the Persona Map, typical of Design Thinking, which is a visual and empathic understanding of the target user/customer that will help the participants to develop ideas and eventual solutions. You can use the downloadable Persona Map sheet at this link or, instead, create a template yourself.
Follow the next steps: 
- Start by brainstorming with the group who your target users are using post-it notes to capture individual suggestions, then discussing and grouping them. Choose which one or two that the team represents the user best to create a hypothetical typical person.
- Bring your chosen persona to life by discussing, agreeing and fleshing out the chosen persona, use your collective imagination to create a rich character portrayal.
- Give the Persona a realistic name
- Complete the About section of the Persona Map – what type of person is this? What personal characteristics do they have, are they single/married, do they have children, etc?
- Invent a quote they might use to describe the need/want that you think they have that you will solve for them
- Describe more about their life, their background, education, job title, and other key characteristics of the persona
- Identify what Goals the persona has in their life, and for the product/service you will provide
- Identify key motivational factors that will encourage the use of your product/service – what are their customer latent needs and desires?
- Complete the section on Behaviours – what do they do? Tell stories about their behaviour as it relates to your product/service? How do they communicate? What are their frustrations? Etc?
- Review the completed Persona to check it accurately describes the participant chosen target user/customer.

STEP 3 (30 minutes)
Now is the time to write a group reply email using netiquette, because in the business world, it's important to use friendly, professional language when communicating online with potential investors and partners. The beneficiaries, working in a single group, will have to arrive at a shared email response to the client of the previous step. The group can brainstorm and jot down ideas on post-its. To be inspired, here some examples: 25 Customer Service Email Templates to Support, Renew, & Refund Customers. At the end, reflect together on what they have learnt during the activity, letting them express their thoughts freely.

Time needed and group sizeexpand_more

TIME: 1 hour and 20 minutes
GROUPS: 6-8 learners 

Materials needed for implementationexpand_more

Board, sticky notes, pen/pencils, sheet “Persona Map”.

Further resources: Videos and/or useful linksexpand_more


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