Social media is not rocket science. Yet, someone people manage to make major mistakes over and over again on it. The reason is they are focused on the “fun” side of social media, and not the hard side of it. It is fun to set up photos, and use filters. It is hard to realize what you are writing will come back to haunt you. Think of how many business leaders, politicians and athletes get eviscerated for social media comments and pictures.
To prevent this type of embarrassment from happening to you, here are a few things to consider when using social media:
1) You are probably friends with more important people than you realize. I would guess that most PR professionals, like me, have a “personal” and “professional” mode when it comes to managing social media. During the day, you’re posting stuff about your clients, hoping that your clients, influencers and the media will see it. After work, you’re posting stuff about your personal life (let’s be real, it’s probably food….or is that just me?) hoping that your friends will see it. The problem is that, unless you take the time to put some serious filters on your posts, all of your friends could potentially see all of your posts. So even if you meant for your tweet to make your friends laugh, it might make that reporter that you forgot about raise an eyebrow or two. Be aware of your circles of influence all the time, not just during work hours.
2) The internet is basically your office. Any idea of social media being just for personal use went out the window when we got 24-hour access to our client’s accounts on our smartphones. So how to avoid accidentally updating something offensive on a client’s profile? Treat it like the office – if you wouldn’t say it in a professional setting, don’t say it at all.
3) Everything you say on social media reflects on you as a professional. Even if you just mean your post as a joke, it still reflects poorly on your ability to figure out what offends people and what doesn’t. When we give social media advice to people every day, how can we expect them to trust us if we can’t show discretion with our own posts?
Accidents happen, but people need to think twice before posting something questionable on social media. If in doubt, leave it out!