The Unspoken Rules of the Internet

Corey Wainwright
Corey Wainwright



Or heck, maybe they are spoken ... but I think they need to be all in one place, particularly for marketers.

jungle gym at dusk

Why for marketers? Because the internet is the inbound marketer's playground. And if we want to get along -- with leads, customers, other businesses, random internet beings -- we need to know the rules of the playground.

So here's what you should know. Some of these are hard and fast rules. Like, Google or some big bad government organization might come after you. Some of these are implied etiquette. All of them will help you play nice, and not look like a jerk when marketing on the internet.

The Unspoken Rules of the Internet

1) If you're citing someone else's data or a quote from their content, give 'em a link. It's nice for readers, and it's a nice nod to the source for finding a useful piece of information that you're getting some benefit from. It's less about the inbound link juice, and more about just giving credit where credit's due.

2) Don't copy and paste content from someone else's site, unless you're deliberately and obviously featuring their content with proper attribution. They put hard work into that. Plagiarism is messed up, man.

3) Don't promote your business in the comments section of blogs. You lose all credibility, and it's a lame sales tactic.

4) Be transparent about your business affiliations. If you're guest blogging, commenting, promoting, etc. make sure people know where when and if you have partnerships or history with another company. If you don't, someone will find out -- and probably out you. Might as well be transparent from the get go!

5) Don't Facebook friend business connections. Just don't. (Unless you're actually friends.)

6) Don't connect with someone on LinkedIn unless you've had some type of contact in the past. And if that contact was short or informal, accompany the request with a message that explains where you two might have initially connected. Context is everything.

7) Make unsubscribe links ridiculously easy for people to find. No weird language. No visual tricks. No hoops to jump through. Even if you're trying to limit unsubscribes to keep your list intact, messing around with people like this will probably just get you marked as spam, anyway. No bueno.

8) No one expects you to reply to every single tweet sent to your account. But they do expect you to respond to the important ones. It's your job to know the difference.

9) Don't auto DM. Just ... don't. Saying, "Thanks for the follow! Thought you might want to check out this fanny pack" is not lovable, and not desired. (Fun fact: I immediately unfollow anyone who auto DMs me on Twitter.)

10) If you're linking to someone's content, check to see if it lives behind a landing page. Sometimes you might have stumbled upon a PDF or other gated piece of content through some means other than filling out a landing page form. It's courteous to do what you can to preserve another business's lead generation efforts by linking to the landing page, not the thank-you page or the raw PDF.

What did we miss? What's one of those things you just ... shouldn't do as a marketer on the internet?

Image credit: emily.laurel504

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