This article is a little different than the ones we’ve done before. But because this is such an important topic, particularly for business or individuals who represent brands, we’re going to touch on it.
Bad decisions: You don’t want to be making them.
Everyone has their own personal opinions, and of course there’s nothing wrong with sharing them—with the right people, at the right time. Business owners and community or social media managers should NOT be sharing them with the wider world. The thing about doing that is that nothing on the internet ever goes away. Ever. People can dig up things you said a long time ago, bringing tons of negative attention to your business when you never saw it coming. Or, if you make the mistake of sharing something from your personal account on a business account, someone will likely take a screenshot of that and call you out. It is more important than ever to make sure that you keep your personal life separate from your professional one—and that you put steps in place to avoid a massive social media fail that could be really messy to overcome.
Be Careful About What You Share.
Generally, you should not share posts about religion, politics, or other hot-button topics. First, companies don’t always need to have a stance on current topics, even if you do. Second, while it’s a great way to draw attention to yourself, it’s also unprofessional and makes a lot of people uncomfortable.
This is a short but sweet rule. Take it seriously. If nothing else, remember this advice and you'll be a lot less likely to do something disastrous.
Remember That People Can See Likes, Favs, and Retweets.
Earlier last year, IHOP retweeted an anti-Hillary campaign message. The way you vote and who you support politically or otherwise are of no consequence to your business. Similarly, retweeting things without checking links is another way of getting burned. People can also find a whole page of your “likes” by clicking on a tab. People can see what you’ve “liked” on Facebook. This is an easy way for people to see exactly what you absent-mindedly clicked on at some point, and you may have "liked" something you prefer to keep private, or that might conflict with your business image. While you may not have meant anything by it, “liking” something controversial can get you into hot water in the professional world.
Unfortunately, aside from blocking people or making your social media accounts private, there’s presently no way of disabling who can see what you like, either on Facebook or Twitter.
Proofread your updates before you send them. Make sure you have your copy in place. Make sure that you have a call to action, the correct hashtags, or a photo attached--whatever it is, just make sure it looks like it's supposed to. McDonald’s recently tried to tweet something about a Black Friday sale, and literally left in a place-holder that said “Need copy and link.” The tweet got a lot of attention, so maybe it worked out in McDonald’s favor, but it still appeared unprofessional and made them look dishonest.
Double-Check Your Accounts.
If you manage your company’s social media accounts from a personal device such as a phone or tablet, chances are that you have your own accounts on this device as well. Before hitting “send” on your updates, double-check to ensure you are updating the correct accounts. The last thing you need is a selfie gracing the feeds of people who follow you because you own the top-rated local steak restaurant.
Basically, you need to keep your accounts organized, proofread your updates, and keep your personal thoughts out of your social media feed. Remember that on the internet, it's impossible to get rid of something for good. While people are likely to forgive a silly mistake with little effort, they might be very angry about other, less-than-innocent errors, and you'll have considerable damage control to do in order to compensate.
So, be smart, be careful, and you can easily avoid a massive social media fail! Happy posting!