Email Isn’t Social Media So Don’t Use It That Way

Are you treating email like it's an extention of social media? If so, you need to stop! Email is a valuable communication medium that works well when certain rules are followed. In this article we look at some things you can do that will guarantee that you won't get a response and damage your reputation with the recipients as well.
Email Isn't Social Media So Don't Use It That Way

Email Isn’t Social Media So Don’t Use It That Way

How many times do you check a Facebook page and see someone putting in the word “Bump” so that the post goes to the top of the page?

I don’t know about you but I find this really annoying: I’ve seen this post, I have nothing of value to add to it so have moved on, now it’s back in my feed again and contains no useful information – or any information in fact.

It would seem that the world of email is falling foul of this new “bump” tactictoo.

Twice in the past couple of weeks I have received emails that are a forward of an email I have previously received. Did the author of the original email make a mistake and are emailing me to correct it? Nope. Are they giving more information? Nope. Would you like to know what the additional content of the email said?

“Hi, Just floating this to the top of your inbox”


That’s it.

“Just floating this to the top of your inbox”

I had to read that waste of space sentence instead of getting on with something more important – such as reading a proper email.

Not only that, the thing is I had already replied to this email two days before!

If you’re trying to do business with someone then please, please, please check your inbox for a reply before shooting off a “Hey, Did you get my email?” email.

I batch process my emails and tend to go through them 3 times a week so you should always get a reply from me within a couple of working days – nothing wrong with that, right?

On top of that, the person who sent the email sent it to an unused email address that I just happened to see!

So, if you want people to reply to your emails stick to the following rules:

1. Allow People Time To Respond

If your email is urgent then say so – we’re not all mind readers!

Put urgent in the subject line and let people know within the first couple of lines when you need a response by. That allows them to figure out if they can get the information to you, or at least let you know they won’t have the time.

If it’s not urgent, give it a three days before recontacting the person. This gives them enough time to fit your email into their batch processing schedule.

2. Check For Replies Before Following Up

Please don’t email me asking if I got your email when I have in fact replied and it’s buried somewhere in your unruly inbox – that’s your problem, not mine.

Check your inbox, archive, deleted files and spam to see if I’ve replied before sending me a snotty follow-up email.

3. Follow Up Properly

When chasing up, don’t just day “Just checking you got my last email” or “Hi, Just floating this to the top of your inbox”. I may have not actually got your last email – it may have been filtered to spam for some reason, I might have accidentally deleted it, or there may have been a server issue.

Forward your original email on to me and add any extra information that I might need with a polite reminder I haven’t replied and it’s getting close to the response date.

4. Don’t Blame Me For Not Replying

Things get busy, life happens and sometimes things get away from us. If you’ve not set a required reply-by date then it’s not my fault you’ve missed your deadline. Set clear expectations and then follow up in a polite manner reminding me that the deadline is coming up soon.

Don’t expect that I definitely will be able to help you either as my own work committements may not allow it. Do ask though if I am unable (or not the right person) to give you the details of someone better placed to help.

5. Use A Good Subject Line

In the horrible email I received above, I negelected to tell you the subject line. It was:

“Appropriate Person?”

That’s it. Nothing more.

How am I supposed to know what the message contains or if I am indeed the “Appropriate Person”?

Make sure that the subject line lets the recipient know the contents of the email, and whether it’s urgent or not.

If You Send A Terrible Email Don’t Expect A Response

The person who sent the “Appropriate Person Float” email is lucky they got a response from me at all – although it looks like I shouldn’t have bothered judging from their awful follow up email.

The really funny thing about this whole escapade is that the email address they sent the email to is unmonitored (I just happened to be clearing it out) and contains an auto-responder telling people how to contact me – and they even managed to ignore that as well as my reply!

If you send something through like this, don’t expect a response. From now on I think I’m just going to delete these types of emails without even opening them – think of the amount of time and hassle that will save.

It concerns me that so called “professional” business people, marketers or someone who is asking for help thinks that emails of this nature are an acceptible form of business communication.

Please don’t fall into the trap of crafting sloppy email subject lines, and certainly don’t use social media tactics to try and get a response.

What Do You Think?

Do you receive a lot of emails like this? What do you do with them?

Perhaps you think I’m being too harsh? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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