5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Posting on Social Media
There are two truths about posting on social media: everything is public and everything is permanent. Everything.
Perhaps there was a day when you could attempt to keep your professional and social life separate, but social media changed that forever. Your online personality is being viewed—and judged—by your employers and colleagues, landlords, hiring managers, loan officials, college recruiters, people you are (or wish you were) dating, friends, and relatives. While your close friends may enjoy watching video of you downing rounds of margaritas poolside this summer, a potential employer or client may think twice about doing business with you.
A 2011 survey by Reppler found that more than 90% of recruiters and hiring managers review a potential candidate’s social media presence, and 69% rejected a candidate based on content found on social media sites. In particular, the recruiters rejected candidates based on social media posts with:
- inappropriate photos and comments,
- content about drinking and drugs,
- negative comments about a previous employer, and
- poor communication skills.
Social media has become a platform where we feel free to tell all and show all. However, inappropriate posts—all in the name of fun—can damage your reputation and destroy your personal brand. Indeed, stories about young adults denied entrance into universities and people losing jobs over social media missteps are becoming common place.
How do you know when and what to share? Although it may seem like common sense, we can assure you that what one person considers inappropriate, another believes is just fine. So, here are five questions to ask yourself before posting on social media:
- Would I want this on the front page of the New York Times? Presume everyone will see your post and ask yourself, “Will I regret it?
- Does this post support my professional brand? You have a brand, and everything you wear, say, and do online defines your brand. What are you promoting? Reppler’s survey also found that 68% of recruiters hired a candidate because of what they saw on social media! Candidates were hired when their profiles gave a positive impression of their personality and organizational fit, supported their professional qualifications, and showed the candidate was creative. Do your posts confirm your credibility and create trust?
- Where am I posting from? Are you at a work event? Consider whether the post supports both you and your employer’s brand. For example, posting pictures of a fun contest at a hip technology startup may be perfectly acceptable, while posting pictures of that same contest at a government contractor that handles top secret projects is likely not. Are you supposed to be at work? Don’t do it. Are you at a private or sensitive event? Be careful at weddings, funerals, births, etc. Let the hosts or guests of honor be the first to share and control the news. It is their story!
- Will everyone pictured or tagged be pleased? Safeguard other’s reputations. Delete any photos that do not show people at their best, and only tag others with their permission. Think about how others might feel about the post five years from now.
- Am I being kind? When did we stop being concerned about how we might affect other people? Choose to be civil. Avoid posting in anger and using profanity; emotional outbursts on social media leave a trail of regret. Instead, take a few minutes—and several breaths—before hitting post. A good test is to ask yourself, “Would I say this face-to-face?” When in doubt, don’t!
Vigilantly monitor your online presence. Be deliberate about how others perceive you and do not leave your online reputation to chance! Review your security and privacy settings. Know who you are friending and be mindful of what is appropriate in your industry. For example, in the legal field, lawyers and judges are typically not connected, while online connections appear to be the norm in the technology sector. Be aware of how your personal social media preferences fit together with your business environment.
Clear your profiles of anything questionable, inappropriate, or overly personal. If others post offensive content concerning you, ask them to remove it. Assume the best; they may not have seen the photo or post in the same manner you did. If necessary, block the offending user and report them to the site. In the words of Warren Buffet, “[i]t takes 20 years to build a reputation and only 5 minutes to ruin it.” Think before you post!
How do you want to be remembered? ™
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