Social media has grown over the years to powerful new platforms – including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. So, too, have the myriad roles it plays: Relationship builder. Memory holder. Disperser of news – both real and fake.
As social media manager for Ceisler Media, I have seen many social media mistakes -- from people in positions of power posting inappropriate content, to public figures being caught on camera blurting out something they did not realize was being recorded.
With that in mind, here are my tips on how to avoid social media disasters:
1. Don't Drunk Post. Don't Post in Anger.
Your parents probably told you, “Think before you speak.” Well, in this case, it’s, “Think before you post.” Is the impetuous statement something you are going to regret saying out loud in five minutes, five months, or five years? The internet holds onto everything… forever. If it is negative, it will be found and reposted. You will regret your statement.
Are you a public figure? Do you aspire to be a C-level executive? It is important to remember that who you are in your personal life will almost certainly carry over to your professional life.
Think about your brand . . . now. Your future depends on it.
What does this mean?
It means that what you put out on social media and the internet, in general, is what the population will perceive about you.
If you are already at a level of prominence, is it a good idea to interact with your peers and employees on a sophomoric level? The answer is a definite… NO.
Example. You are an executive of a bank. Brand yourself with empowering thoughts, professional development goals, and what leaders in your field are doing. I would suggest you did not post overly candid and potentially embarrassing pictures of your family and friends. Nevertheless, if you must, post a few modest pictures of your children or grandchildren, as it does humanize you.
2. Don't feed into trolls.
I’ve seen people get into trouble with their comments. Be extra careful with trolls. People who would be afraid to make a comment to your face feel free to hide behind their fake names and avatars to bait you. They may think, “You don’t know me; I can say whatever I want about you.”
Remember, everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. Just don’t sink to their level and definitely don’t insult them. Their goal is to get a rise out of you. When you respond at all, the trolls consider that a win for them.
3. Watch your language.
It’s simple... Don’t curse. Don’t insult. Do not make racist, sexist or homophobic comments.
What would your mother think?
Remember George Carlin’s “Seven Words You Can't Say On TV?” Well, social media is the new TV, so DON’T use them online.
Would you be embarrassed if your mother read or saw the images you are posting? If you hesitate for any amount of time to that question, then the answer is simply no. Don’t post. Because even if your mother is not following you on social media, many others with her sensibilities probably are.
So, before you find yourself in hot water, remember there are social media advisers ready to help protect you -- even from yourself. We advise on strategy and can take over your digital communications in part or completely.
You may or may not be surprised - many executives have content curated on their behalf to show they are thought leaders in their industry and stay on brand. Agencies like Ceisler Media, help create the magic of public relations. Incorporate our expertise into your communications plan to allow you to do your job well. The last thing you need is a headache from a viral faux pas.
So please, do yourself a favor think about your future. Write your nasty or negative thoughts in a journal or diary. Read them when you are alone. But only share your positive comments for social media.
Melissa Sherman is the Social Media Manager in Ceisler Media's Philadelphia office.