Ready, Fire, Aim – Why You Need To Think Before You Hit ‘Send’
As social media has grown over the years to powerful new platforms – including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram -- so have the myriad roles it fills. Relationship builder. Memory holder. Disperser of news – both real and not-so-real.
And career killer.
We’ve seen evidence of that last role in recent weeks. First, Roseanne Barr tweeted a racist comment, later using the defense that she was on Ambien. Then, a story broke accusing Sixers President Bryan Colangelo (or his wife) of using burner accounts to troll his players and leak sensitive news to the media.
They’re not the first or the last to commit professional suicide through social media.
I am the social media manager for Ceisler Media & Issue Advocacy. That means I’ve seen a lot -- from people in positions of power posting inappropriate content to public figures being caught on camera saying something they did not realize was being recorded.That said, here are some tips on how to avoid social media disasters.
Don’t Drunk Post. Don’t Post in Anger.
Didn’t your mom always tell you, “Think before you speak?” Well in this case it’s, “Think before you post.” Is the 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’s negative, it will be found. You will regret your statement.
Are you a public figure? Do you aspire to be a C-level executive? 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 importance, 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 others in your field are doing. I would prefer you did not post overly candid and potentially embarrassing pictures of your family and friends. If you must, post a few demure pictures of your children or grandchildren, as it does humanize you.
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 instead hide behind their computer screens to bait you. They may think “You don’t know me, I can say what 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. When you respond at all, the trolls consider that a win for them.
Watch your Language.
What would your mother think?
It’s simple... Don’t curse. Don’t insult. Do not make racist, sexist or homophobic comments.
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.
Finally, let’s talk a little bit about burner accounts. Yes, people have them. Coaches, to check in on their players, celebrities to feel somewhat normal, and parents to protect their children. If you do feel the need to use one, just remember you are trying to stay anonymous. If the Bryan Colangelo case proves anything, it’s that it’s impossible to keep things secret with so many savvy internet sleuths out there looking at everything.
Before you find yourself in hot water, remember there are social media advisers like Ceisler Media ready to help protect you -- even from yourself. We advise on strategy and can take over your digital communications in part or completely.
So please, do yourself a favor. Write your nasty or negative thoughts in a journal or diary. Just save the positive comments for social media.
Melissa Sherman is a Social Media Manager in Ceisler Media's Philadelphia office.