Subscribe to Entrepreneur for $5

3 Annoying Online Communication Habits You Need to Break

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Today, most communication happens online. With countless electronic exchanges throughout the day, it's tough to craft a perfect message every time. But there are some online communication faux pas that can actually alienate your audience and make your overall communication less effective, says New York City online communications consultant Dorri Olds. She has worked with hundreds of small businesses, helping them build web sites and master social media. Olds works to cure her clients of these three afflictions.

1. Tone-deafness.

Email especially isn't known for its ability to communicate tone, so it's easy for straightforward messages to be misunderstood. Jotting a short direct response may be a time-saver for you, but also may appear abrupt or snippy to the recipient. While you don't have to pepper your response with emoticons, you should review your email, posts and texts before you hit send to make sure you're not coming across as unintentionally abrasive.

Softening a direct response with a salutation (such as "Hi, Joe" or "Great to hear from you, Mary.") or signing off with "thank you" or "best regards" takes a few more key strokes, but can prevent your message from being lost among hurt feelings or annoyance.

Related: 4 Easy Tools for Cleaning Up Your Email Inbox

2. Promotion sickness.

"Some people think that we're far more interested in what they're doing than we really are," says Olds. If your tweets or posts are all about you all the time, your audience is probably tuning you out. Olds likes a one-to-six ratio of promotion to other content -- only one promotional post or tweet for every six you send out. In addition, when you're using email, be sure you're offering something of value to the recipient like a promotional offer or good content.

She also strongly advises using your platform to promote others and help them build their followings through reposting and re-tweeting good content. Also, if your email signature is seven or eight lines long, no one is reading it. Cut it down to the essential one or two messages about yourself to be more effective.

3. Negative state of mind.

No one wants to read wallowing, complaining or mean-spiritedness. If you engage in this type of communication on a regular basis, you could be hurting your image. At the same time, Olds doesn't believe that you can't be personal in your posts. If you're being authentic and sharing your feelings about a certain matter, it makes you more accessible and people get a better sense of who you are, she says. But how you position yourself online is important.

"Why would you post that you're desperate for new customers or that you're goofing off at work because you hate your job? Think about what you're posting. Would you want your customers to read it? If not, don't put it out there," she says.

Related: When to Call Versus When to Email


Gwen Moran

Written By

GWEN MORAN is a freelance writer and co-author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Business Plans (Alpha, 2010).