This article first appeared on the Green Pepper blog.
Among the usual Facebook posts about silly pets, tasty meals and holidays are those showing friends and family having fun. But what if your great night out was caught on video? A laugh yes, but maybe not so funny if your drunken antics were seen online by your employer?
The instant nature of social media, and the fact that anything that has been posted can be shared with others, means an unfortunate error can go a long way. Worse, some individuals deliberately use social media for their own unsavoury ends. Jobs can be lost, friendships broken; and credibility undermined.
In practice, any organisation that encourages social media use should have its own policy, setting out both professional and content guidelines. But here are five useful tips to help avoid a social media meltdown…
One: Don’t let temptation get the better of you
Social media can be quite addictive. Lots of us welcome the engagement from others; and the recognition that “likes” and “shares” can bring us. But we are not always at our best. So definitely avoid posting if you are very tired, unwell or otherwise not in proper control…after drinking perhaps.
Two: Stay safe and secure
Having a large social network is great, but not everyone is friendly; and some are people best avoided. So review your profile settings and passwords. Keep publicly visible personal information about you to the minimum; consider setting your personal account to restrict others ability to find you or to tag you into the content they share; and for networks like Facebook, avoid friend requests from people you do not know. Finally, avoid posting private information about yourself.
Three: Keep it professional
Don’t let your online behaviour outside of work come back to haunt you. Be mindful of others, and watch your language when posting on social media. Indeed, take extra care if you refer to your employer, a colleague or another person or organisation. Also, don’t add service users or clients to your personal accounts, instead use an official work account where this is permitted.
Four: Keep it lawful
Photos, videos, stories and graphics are shared regularly on social media. But beware breaching copyrighted materials or infringing a trade mark. Check sources, and if in doubt, then don’t share it.
Five: Beware the fakers and haters
Social media is full of great opinion and interesting facts, but it isn’t all true. Beware of sharing fake news or purportedly factual content from hate groups and others with unsavoury motives. If it’s particularly bad, offensive or abusive content, then report it to the network.