Is professionalism a thing of the past in the online world?
Has professionalism been resigned to the history books as something no longer required by businesses to promote themselves online?
Is it that businesses don’t care how people perceive them? Often putting the running of their online estate in the hands of a junior staff member because they know a bit about social media or websites?
Or is it that when they outsource their social media or website management to a third party? Then take little or no interest in what is being done, often leaving the third party to just get on with it.
Either way, when you look at the quality of some business content, it appears professionalism is well and truly dead.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t always the case. There are plenty of businesses that get it right; however, many don’t and it makes you wonder why they put up with it.
Here are a couple of examples that illustrate the point:
Finding images to use for things such as your website, social media, and marketing can be time-consuming and costly. Especially if you want to use something that half the world isn’t using already.
I’ve lost count of the times I’ve seen businesses use watermarked images or ones they don’t have commercial licensing for.
If you’ve ever done this then, if you haven’t already, you should stop now, it’s ILLEGAL.
Every time you do, you risk being sued by the image creator for breach of copyright. This can lead to fines and back payment of any royalties that should have been paid to use the image.
You can shrug all you like and say you didn’t know or you weren’t aware; however, ignorance of the law won’t wash in cases like this. As the business owner, you are responsible and the buck stops with you.
There seems to be a misconception that any image posted online is fair game for reuse. They aren’t. Just because they don’t have a watermark or copyright mark doesn’t mean they won’t have one.
Many digital images contain a digital watermark, any image created by someone else, unless it has been issued as royalty-free for commercial use, will have a copyright. Visible or not.
If you’re unsure of the law surrounding copyright, you can find it on the government’s website > HERE
If you want great images, the best approach is to have them done by a photographer or creative. Bespoke images that are yours that you hold the copyright for. You can use these as much as you like, wherever you want, free of charge, aside from the initial cost.
The next best thing is to find one you like on an image site and pay the royalty. The legal owner of the image may state how it may be used or manipulated, how many times you can use it and where. With some, the owner may stipulate that the image can’t be edited and should be displayed in its entirety, as intended. Others don’t, but you should check before you use them.
There are also plenty of sites containing royalty-free images for commercial use.
If I can offer one bit of advice before you use any image for your online or offline content, you need to ask yourself, do I have the right to use this?
If not, then DON’T. It’s that simple.
Spelling and Grammar
Another area that seems to be in decline is spelling and grammar.
Today, there are many free tools available, such as Grammarly, to check these two vertebrae of the English language, so how is it possible?
Of course, you don’t have to have a degree in English to create content; however, having at least a good grasp of it can help. Of course, the odd typo can be excused but if it’s happening a lot, you have to ask yourself why?
Referring back to the start of the article, I mentioned that junior staff are often put in charge of creating content, as they are deemed to know about these things. However, you may have noticed that lots of young people, and no disrespect to them as it’s what they’ve grown up with, use text talk to communicate with each other.
For example, my partner recently went online to book a restaurant for an evening out and went to their Facebook page to check out the reviews before placing the booking. She then contacted them through Messenger to ask about availability. What came back wasn’t unintelligible; however, it lacked refinement and didn’t portray the business professionally.
Again, I’m not bashing the young person who had jumped on Messenger to respond, they should be credited for taking the initiative. However, it should have been proofed by a senior member of staff or the business owner before it was sent. It was as if they were having a conversation with their friend over chat. With words like wiv instead of with, gr8 thnx, instead of great thank you and several other misdemeanours that the grammar police would pick up on.
Of course, this kind of thing is ok on a personal profile but should it be acceptable in business?
Did she book, yes? Did it put us off booking, no; however, it didn’t look professional and depending on the kind of clientele you want to attract, it may put some off?
Another reason is that people type their content straight into their social media posts without checking it first. An occasional typo can be excused; however, if it happens repeatedly, you could be losing custom without ever knowing.
If I can offer some advice before you post any more content. Write it up in a word processor first using a Grammarly plugin. This will highlight any spelling and grammar mistakes before you use it.
After all, it’s your business and reputation at stake, don’t leave it in the hands of someone that may not take as much care as you do, or would like.
If you’d like more information on any of the content in this article or would like to know more about our Social Media or Web Management services, please get in touch.
Either email firstname.lastname@example.org or hit the speech bubble in the bottom right of your screen and chat to us on Messenger.
- Copyright Law – information about copyright law in the UK.
- Grammarly – reviews spelling, grammar, punctuation, clarity, engagement, and delivery mistakes.
- Shutterstock – stock photography, stock footage, stock music, and editing tools.
- Pixabay – free stock photography and royalty-free stock media.
- Pexels – stock photography and stock footage.