Are you plugged in to the “twitterverse” or a hardcore “Facebooker”? Or, maybe Google+ and Instagram are more your speed? Whatever your social media outlet, remember it is all PUBLIC, even when you think it’s private (meaning only your friends can see your innermost thoughts).
If you are on LinkedIn you will quickly see that your world is smaller than you realize; your next manager is likely less than six degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon and YOU. So unless you want an employer, prospective or current, to read about your relationship issues or how you fantasize about getting annoying coworkers in a MMA octagon, create your own social media policy. While many people may have similar thoughts in moments of frustration, shouting these out in a public forum shows a serious lack of judgment.
DON’T have an uncomfortable moment at work because of something said on Facebook. You may think it’s private, but a “Facebook friend” of a “friend” may get wind of your online rantings, and all of a sudden “word of mouth” makes people see a side of you that you may not be comfortable with showing so openly. Think twice, and then a third time, before you hit the button to leave your social media reputation open to interpretation.
Show the YOU that will get you hired, not fired.
Keep it professional while telling your personal story. Before you venture into The Land of the Oversharers, think about the persona you want to showcase to the world. What would you do if all of a sudden something you posted went viral? This is typically a cause for celebration, strangers may even recognize or remember you for it. Yeaaa!! Awesome!
But what if it was a video of you beating up your boyfriend on The New Jersey Transit (and then being arrested) or a rant about something embarrassing that happened to show you who your “true friends” are? Would you want someone who is in the position of affecting your cash-flow to bear witness to this? Probably not. You don’t want to have to explain that you need anger management or are just a few weeks shy of obtaining your certificate of completion.
Don’t find yourself in someone’s office asking aloud, “How did we get here?” Because, I’ll tell you to think back to that day when you lost control, or you hit ENTER in anger. That’s how we got here.
Here are a few other tips when considering your own social media policy.
- Standardize. Regulate which kind of information will be available on which platforms. Set rules on what topics are off limits, i.e., personal relationships, past relationships, negative work situations.
- Compartmentalize your personas. Keep one or more accounts strictly personal, don’t accept (or extend) invitations from coworkers or work acquaintances on platforms relegated for family and close friends.
- Never post in an overly emotional state. Know yourself. If you feel there is a topic that is either too close or painful to comment on objectively, write what you want to say (NOT in the comment box), read it twice. If you think it will clue strangers in on either personal situations that you would not broadcasted on CNN.com or you sound like you could have been Linda Blair’s understudy in William Friedkin’s “The Exorcist,” I strongly suggest not sending it to your friends, followers, connections, etc. Pick up your phone and call a real friend instead.
- Show self control. Don’t engage in a virtual battle. If someone posts something that offends you, de-friending is an easy fix. No one that cares about you wants to see the back-and-forth bickering. It might be entertaining, at first, like that car crash that you can’t believe you’ve just witnessed, but when the smoke clears and you see that people are hurt, you shake your head and comment on how sad it is.
Lastly, be careful what you put in writing, it may come back to haunt you at the most inopportune time.