Thursday, December 19, 2013

Social Media “Face Palms”: Be Careful What You Post

In 2013, social media is continually evolving—you can do more than ever online and the user base for all of these sites from Facebook to Google Plus is expanding. Kids as young as 13 and older adults as well are becoming daily, active users of social media. These platforms can be a great tool for staying in touch with friends, sharing personal and professional updates, and networking. But posts made in haste can get you in some hot water, whether you realize it immediately or not. Real life can bring us some “face-palm” moments; that feeling of “I can’t believe I said/did that”. This embarrassment is completely avoidable online if you are proactive. Once a post is out there, however, it is tough to do damage control. Here are a few basic rules to keep in mind to avoid posting something that will embarrass you or worse, get you fired.

If you don’t want your parents or kids to see it, you probably don’t want to post it. We all have moments where have a little too much to drink and maybe snap a flushed faced photo with a friend wearing a ridiculous hat and holding a beer.  Maybe writing about the great deal you got on a case of king sized candy bars (even though you’re on a low fat diet) seems like a good idea in the store, but the resulting comments of concerned family members may not be worth it.  There are a lot worse examples you can probably think of here, but the point is, once that awkward picture or questionable status is posted, those who you think won’t see it just might.

If you’re extremely angry or depressed about something, keep the details offline. It happens to the nicest of people—you have a disagreement with your significant other, a friend does something unexpected, or a major disappointment comes from out of the blue. While it can be tempting to vent on your page or to post something just to spite the person you’re conflicting with, do you really want your entire friends list to know this personal information? You probably won’t remember at the time that Jenny from 12th grade is friends with your friend; if she sees you lashing out, she might stick her nose in the drama. (You don’t want that, do you?) When emotions run high, people often construe the situation disproportionately and say things they don’t mean. Who knows when an important professional connection will see this and get the wrong impression? It’s best to stay away from your social media pages until the problem has subsided.

Whatever you do, don’t post anything negative about your boss, your coworkers, or your job itself online.  You can work for someone who is impossible, do a project with a lazy coworker, or have the worst day ever, but don’t post any details about these things online. It makes you look bad and more importantly, it can taint the image of your company. Even when you’re off the clock, you are still representing who you work for. So you’re the one in charge? It’s even more important in that case not to post negative things about your employees or company frustrations.

While these things may seem obvious, it happens all too often where people just don’t think about what they post until it’s too late. It’s ok to ask for advice, celebrate positive news, and talk to your friends and family through your social media pages. They can also be a way to make initial business connections and boost your company’s reputation. Like most things, social media can be used for good or for bad. When it doubt, don’t post it. Keeping your online presence clean makes your real presence all the more easy for others to feel confident in.