I often hear about holders of social media accounts preparing and drafting posts to said account that ultimately are deleterious to their employment status or social standing. Just often as I read about errors in posting leading to the end of or severe restriction to one employment I shake my head at the stupid of those who find themselves in that position.
To me it is pretty simple: when posting to ones social media accounts really one should just “Keep It Simple Stupid”. Obviously that bald statement requires expansion. So here are my 5 keys to avoiding a social media stuff up that could lead to the end of your employment or a lowering of your social flag on the mast of life:
1. Who can read what you are saying?
This is the simplest one of all: unless you have a very tightly held social media account to which you restrict access to only those who you allow to see what you write you need work on the presumption that EVERYONE can see what you are posting. Thus: when you post something are you happy with the whole world having access to that post? If not: should you posting it?
2. If it is confidential or proprietary or likely to embarrass your employer or client = DANGER
To me this is often the area that astonishes me: I work in professional services and we spend a lot time talking to our staff about confidentiality, particularly, and often use the example of being careful about what you say about your work in the lift. Is not social media akin to the worlds biggest lift? It is simple but this is where most make mistakes it would seem. The solution is also simple: other than the most generic of terms, and unless the account is a business one, apply the “Fight Club” rule: “The First Rule of Social Media is that we don’t talk about work on Social Media.”
3. If you want to mix business and social media: get two accounts … it is not that hard
Again: this is one from the shaking one’s head department. It is so easy in this day and age to create multiple social media accounts that a simple solution for those who want to talk about their work (again mindful of confidentiality and proprietary issues) is to create a “work account” and a “private account”. Lock the private account and be vigilant with who you add and then post to which ever account you wish depending on the context.
4. Would you be happy with what you are posting appearing in an affidavit?
This is a very lawyerly one but it rests true. If you are about to post something that even flirts with the line of inappropriate think to yourself” “Would I like to have to give evidence about this on oath.” Now you are probably scoffing as you read thinking about this concept but if you were to be involved in a dispute and your credit as a witness was a question in issue then I am certain a controversial tweet you sent could appear in the material. Do you really want that?
5. Should be obvious but social media is meant to be fun … so abuse is no on
It never ceases to amaze me what some people will so to each other behind the safety of their computer screens or smartphones. To me an easy way to avoid making a social media mistake that relates to what you say about someone else is to apply this maxim: “Would I say this to the person I am abusing or wish to talk about to their face.” If the answer is no then you should probably not be posting it.
I am, of course, by no means an expert and, at times, I am sure I have let the emotion of an event (hello Canberra Raiders and Chicago Cubs in defeat) get away from me and I have tweeted / tumblred a post that I have regretted. Life without regret is not a life lived in my view but I am sure that these simple thoughts could have saved those who in the past have made a mistake on social media and have lost their job or found themselves on the end of a reprimand.
These are my own thoughts: I would be delighted to hear from readers about what they think. Email (firstname.lastname@example.org), tweet (@shumpty77) or comment below if you want to get involved.
Happy posting to social media everyone: stay safe out there!