Friday, January 21, 2011

How to Play Nice on Social Media - Think Before You Post

As I wind down my series, How to Create Your Social Media Calendar, I wanted to share a few tips on how to "play nice" on social media. Sometimes we tend to forget that manners still apply to the Internet, and I think it's important to bring up up this point again. Don't use social media for your persnal "whiner" board. Social media isn't online journaling, and should not be used to to air negative grievances. Who wants to read complaints 24,7?

Before you blast your boss or co-workers on your Facebook, think before you post. Emotions can get the best of us, so take a few moments to calm down, breathe deeply and clear your head. 

Remember the following tips when commenting and posting updates:

1. You could possibly get fired  for what you post on social media accounts - there has been a lot of controversy in the news about this topic. Employees think this violates their freedom of expression but employers think otherwise. Unfortunately, many employees have lost their jobs and have also been sued as a result of what they posted about clients, fellow employees and even bosses. In this turbulent economy, that's the last thing you want to do - to lose your job! If you are a job seeker, be extra careful - your online past could come back to haunt you.

2. If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. It's all about playing nice and being courteous to others on social media. Social media isn't about posting rude remarks and comments. People have a tendency to use social media as a smoke screen - because they are hidden, they think it's okay to be rude and mean.  Stay away from posting offensive language - it's not cute and only makes you look ignorant. 

3. Show respect for people's diversity. Remember that social media is a global audience and English could be a second language for some social media users. Derogatory comments about race, religion, culture or sexual orientation  have no place in social media (or offline either).

4. Use common sense. Don't post personal or confidential information about yourself or others. You definitely want to post contact information on your profile, but be cautious when  sharing information about your children, spouses, etc. Sometimes people aren't who they say they are on social media. Never give out your personal financial or bank account information. If someone wants to conduct a transaction with you, make sure it's legitimate and do your homework before buying any product or service via a social media interaction.

5. If you are a disgruntled customer or client, you have every right to post your complaint on social media platforms but don't pick online fights. Constructive criticism goes a long way. Companies want to know what they're doing wrong, and how they can improve (it's all about you - the customer!) Make sure you have all your facts straight before you post "incriminating" evidence about a company. Don't believe every rumor you read on your friend's Facebook wall. Investigate on your own - don't just jump on the negative bandwagon because everyone else doesn't like ABC Company. One false comment based on a rumor could really damage a company's reputation. 

If you can play well with others on social media, you will have a better chance of connecting and making real, authentic social relationships - remember that your future client could be reading your next  tweet. 

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Therese Pope, Copywriter/Content Developer & Digital Buzz-icist

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