Etiquette rules.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. To be honest, I’m BUSY! I spend way more time on my clients than on myself.

But here’s something that happened to a client recently, and I think we can all learn from it. I think all too often, people think they can say things and do things online they wouldn’t necessarily do in person. As if just typing something means it has nothing to do with them as a person. But there are some things people do – even on behalf of companies – that Miss Manners probably just wouldn’t approve of.

One of my clients is a local family of coffee shops. Vint is a great place for working, visiting, bringing the kids, grabbing a snack, you name it. I basically live here. I keep a seat cushion (aka a booster seat) behind the bar and I’ve even received mail here. This morning, the owner gave up his seat so I could have my regular perch. Now that’s service.

Recently, a post showed up on their Facebook page made by a local bakery. The bakery was announcing the grand opening of their brand-new store front and was so excited – they wanted to spread the word by asking other local venues to help them out. It was a cute post with a picture of their store, and a comment about their opening date.

Under many circumstances, this would be fine. Vint features products handcrafted by several local companies (Rooibee Red Tea, Annie May’s Sweet Cafe, Najla’s, Creation Gardens, Ghyslain… to name but a few). But this particular vendor does not have their pastries in the case. When I first saw the post, I thought, “Ok, this is their way of reaching out on Facebook, hoping to sell their product to Vint.” But then I happened to drive by the new store. And what I saw was, frankly, disappointing. On the front door was a huge banner that said, “We serve [competitor’s name] coffee.”

So let me get this straight – you posted on our Facebook wall and asked us to tell our community about you. But you advertise a different brand of coffee.

In no time at all, I removed the post on the Vint page and marked it as spam. SPAM. In my opinion, this was just plain bad etiquette.

If the bakery took themselves offline for a moment, would they have marched into Vint and, face-to-face, said to the owners, “Hey! We are opening, we want you to tell your friends about us, and.. oh, by the way, we aren’t selling your coffee,”? I don’t think so.

It just goes to back to manners. And the moral of the story (I have two kids… we focus on morals of stories a lot)… is to think before you post. If this online world is going to be where so many of us exist in the business world, we must make it a valuable experience. A respectful, kind experience.

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