Social media is old hat to most of us digital natives – arguably having evolved into the millennial’s second language. Most of us post regularly on a variety of social media platforms without even thinking twice, much less thinking about the “appropriateness” of the post.
Today’s popular social media apps are all about being “in the moment” – from Twitter’s literal “Moments” to Facebook LIVE to Instagram stories – and we tend to think of our social content strictly in the present tense, neglecting any future implications of one’s digital footprint.
But recent reports indicate that we should put some thought into our online branding, as it might come around to haunt us in the future. 79 percent of job recruiters check out candidate’s social media profiles, and 70 percent of recruiters have even rejected candidates based on inappropriate content they found online. For those of us that are self-employed, similar consequences may surface when it comes to securing investors or prospective clients.
Bottom-line: People – professionals we need to grow our business or career – are looking at what we post online, and that drunken political rant or near nudie pic from Spring Break can result in some serious career consequence.
While most of what we post online is totally harmless, certain things can result in catastrophic consequences for your future self. To save yourself from professional embarrassment, here’s a list of things you should never – EVER – post on social media:
Complaints About Your Clients or Employer
Maybe you’re dealing with a client from hell, or your boss is a total tool – we’ve all been there and we’ve all been tempted to vent to just about anyone (or anything) that would listen.
A woman in Phoenix posted “I wish I could get fired some days, it would be easier to be at home than to have to go through this.”
What happened? She was fired (legally) the next day.
Remember: your boss, your co-workers, your clients, and your competition have Facebook too. They can see when you’re griping about work — and obviously those gripes aren’t going to reflect well on you. Many states (like Arizona) are “fire at will” states, meaning employers don’t have to have just cause to fire you – they can legally fire you because you mouthed off on Facebook. It’s even easier for clients to drop us.
Don’t post work grievances on social media – ever. Trust me, it’s never “professional”.
Political or Religious Beliefs
In the Deep South, we have a saying, “Don’t talk religion, politics, or college football at the dinner table.”
While we may feel very passionately about one (or all three) of these topics, avoiding them as appropriate dining conversation is key for getting along with one another. The same applies to one’s business (and arguably, personal) social media – especially with political and religious rants.
Talk about them with your friends, family, and if you feel so inclined, get a column or pen a Letter to the Editor, but blasting your polarizing beliefs (and yes, we all have them) on social media just comes off as combative, divisive, and unprofessional.
Such a post can drive away would-be customers or employers in a heartbeat, and let’s be honest, how many of us have converted to a new religion or changed our political party affiliation off of an internet meme or status update rant?
Decide for yourself if hot topics like politics and religion belong on your personal social channels, just know that posting such may have professional consequence. And never – EVER – post such discord on your business profiles.
TMI about Anything
There are just some things your social media followers do NOT need (or want) to know about you. Sharing too much information about gross, intimate, or personal things can severely damage how other’s view you and/or respect you as a professional.
Here’s just a few examples of TMI posts I spotted on my daily feed scroll:
- Relationship issues
- A near-complete medical history and procedure description
- Picture of their latest bank deposit slip
- Information on how heavy their menstrual flow is
- Details from a private conversation
- Pictures of one’s toddler’s potty training incident
Don’t be that person! Your social media presence should build you up in the eyes of the world, not make you look like an incompetent idiot.
When screening my own posts for TMI, I ask myself, “If a stranger saw this post and had to draw conclusions about me solely based on this post, what would their conclusions be?” If it’s anything outside of my acceptable list of character qualities or adjectives, I discard it as “unacceptable”.
Social Posting Infographic
In case you’re still struggling to wrap you head around what’s appropriate and what’s not, here’s a handy dandy infographic from www.onlineclasses.org that provides a great flow chart structure to help answer the question “Should I post this?” : Click here to download the full resolution infographic.