We tend to live our lives on social media these days. We post an update about our personal lives on Facebook and share our latest photos on Instagram. What we often forget is that our business customers or our employer can look up our personal accounts and when privacy settings are not enabled, can see everything we’re putting out into the world. Depending on what we’re saying or showing, that’s not always a good thing!
Let’s look at why being careful about how we use social media matters now.
There’s a growing trend on the Twitter mydepressionlookslike hashtag for Twitter account holders to share what their personal depression looks like to them. The idea is starting to gain some traction as tweeters visualize their sad thoughts and try to put them into words outside of a therapist’s office.
While letting your inner feelings out may feel cathartic in the moment, it can have broader implications. When using a personally-identifiable Twitter account and a public one, friends, work colleagues, business partners and suppliers can all see what you’re posting. Some may not be too pleased to learn that either that you’re depressed or that it’s severe enough that you talk publicly about it. A few may even call to suggest treatment to salve what bothers you, which could lead to some awkward conversations.
Facebook: When Is a Friend Not a Friend?
It’s easy to forget when we add the 1,000th person as a friend on our Facebook account that only a small handful of the people we’ve added are probably actual friends in the true, pre-Facebook meaning of the word. Friendship is a closeness to someone that isn’t shared by many people together, but it’s easy to forget that when posting an overly personal comment to your Facebook account or just ignoring how many people can see it.
Depending on your security settings, sometimes it’s only those that you’ve marked as close friends who can see what you post, but in many cases, people haven’t adjusted those settings to restrict what others can see. While it’s true that we don’t tend to see everything that people post – Facebook tends to restrict what hits our news feed – it can still lead to some embarrassing situations where someone we didn’t want to know something, now does.
Business Reputation: Hard to Earn, Easy to Lose
For people in a leadership role at an SME, establishing a solid reputation that they can leverage for marketing purposes is a useful cost-saving move. Pushing ads at previous visitors to the website who didn’t follow-up (but have a Facebook account) or private messaging a contact on LinkedIn to talk about a co-venture can change what they think of you. It’s important to protect these relationships and not accidentally sabotage them. Staff should also be reminded to think before posting, if only because future employers will likely check their Facebook before hiring them.
The best practice when using social media is to think before hitting “publish.” While you can delete an offensive tweet, people are often quick to take a screenshot before you can remove it for good. In some cases, things cannot ever be removed from the internet 100 percent. Take time to use social channels sensibly to avoid personal or professional problems later.