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When it comes to social media mistakes, we’ve all made a few but it’s always good to remember to be careful when posting on a public space.
Social media gaffes are all too common today. They can be terribly funny when no one is getting hurt, fired, insulted or offended. But far too often, the opposite is true. The instant nature of social media and the massive audience users can quickly access add to breakneck speed at which things can go horribly awry. It calls to attention the invisible line between what’s OK to post and what isn’t, and the best rule to stay on the right side of it, is to always air on the side of caution.
You don’t have to look far for an example of what I’m talking about. Earlier this week I came across a reality TV show where someone was fired from her job for posting pictures on Twitter of the emergency room where she worked, in shambles, after doctors and nurses had finished working on a trauma victim. She didn’t mean any harm in posting the images. The shots were not meant to offend or call out the hospital for the disarray of the room, it was meant to call attention to amazing, life saving work. I didn’t stick around to find out the details but needless to say, her employer took issue with her post, and she paid the consequences.
Unfortunately, people catching flack for inappropriate social media postings is a story we hear about all the time. The most difficult part about hearing the stories is that the problem stirred up by a the social media post is almost always avoidable.
When in doubt, keep it to yourself.
Anyone who spends any time online today is encouraged to share their experiences with their friends on social media. It permeates everything we do. We’re always encouraged to be liking, sharing and posting. So it’s no wonder people think it’s OK to share everything online. The problem is what’s being shared may seem harmless (like the emergency room situation above) but it can easily land you in trouble if you’re not careful. Especially in work environments, if you’re not sure if the content you’re about to share is suitable for public consumption, or if you’re unsure you might be violating someone’s privacy or security, don’t post the message.
Always know your employer’s social media policy.
Many companies encourage their employees to be active on social media, but that is usually accompanied with policy guidelines on what is and isn’t appropriate for employee accounts.
So if you’re active online and you want to make sure you know what you’re allowed to post, check with someone. If your employer doesn’t have a social media policy, ask to start the discussion. It’s a much better option than crossing a line and being reprimanded for it.
Use common sense.
This may seem obvious, but we’re so trigger happy with our posts that I’d argue we don’t think a lot before pressing send. Simply taking a second to pause and reflect about the implications of what you’re about to say or post can go a long way to avoiding a social media catastrophe.
If you’re a serial hashtagger and you #justcantstopyourself from filling your posts will every possible hashtag you can think of, even just a cursory check of said hashtags before your post can help you stay away from winding up in articles like these. Remember: always check the hashtag!
That said, you should also check the news.
One of the most commonly heard defenses for inappropriate messages is that they are taken out of context. More likely, the post was inappropriate given the context.
Check the news. Know what’s going on in the world around you. It’s better to save a tweet for another day (or can it altogether) than risk it being taken out of context. If you schedule a lot of social media posts keep a close eye on current events and consider rescheduling posts if something major unfolds.
Triple check your spelling.
Social media and spelling mistakes go hand-in-hand but that doesn’t mean you have to partake. How many times have you wished you could retract an awkward text message to a friend? That’s a far easier situation to rectify than taking down a poorly spelled tweet after it get shared.
What’s your worst social media mistake? How did you fix it? Share your story with us by leaving a comment (after reading the article above – of course).