Social media is now a nearly ubiquitous part of our everyday lives. Recent data shows that 3.78 billion people worldwide are now using social media – and that upward trend shows no signs of slowing down.
Whether you’re looking to connect with friends and family or promote your business, social media can provide you with a wealth of opportunities. However, it’s all too easy to commit a social media faux pas.
If you want to stay in your followers’ good graces and prevent potential problems due to your social media behavior, take note of what not to do.
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Making Offensive Posts or Comments
One of the biggest social media sins is failing to follow the Golden Rule. Whether online or off, you should aim to treat others the way you’d like to be treated. That includes refraining from posting anything that might be considered offensive, discriminatory, or inappropriate.
These kinds of posts can rub even your closest friends and family members the wrong way – and they can be disastrous for your professional life, as well. Regardless of whether you’re looking for a new job or you’ve been gainfully employed for years, offensive social media posts can result in loss of employment opportunities.
While you’re welcome to express yourself and are protected from prosecution (in most cases) due to free speech laws, that doesn’t mean you’ll be free from consequences. You could be passed over for a job opportunity, be fired from your current position, or lose people you care about due to what you say on social.
Generally speaking, you should avoid saying anything that might hurt others (or yourself!). Ask yourself before posting, “could this possibly offend someone else or reflect poorly on me?” If you even hesitate in your answer, don’t hit the “publish” button.
Bad-Mouthing Your Employer
Work-related frustrations are common, so it’s tempting to vent to those in your circle through social media. But you should think twice before you rant about your boss, coworkers, or job responsibilities on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
It might feel good in the moment, but what you write can always come back to haunt you. Removing identifying information is always a good practice, of course. However, that might not completely protect you – especially if your privacy settings are lacking. Even if your accounts are locked down, someone you trust could take screenshots of your posts if they’re determined to hurt your career.
Because social media provides a quick way to connect, it makes sense why you’d want to share your thoughts there. But if it’s related to your job (or your personal relationships!), you shouldn’t share anything negative publicly. Instead, confide in someone close to you or a therapist that will keep information confidential.
Bad-mouthing an employer or a coworker could ultimately harm your ability to get or keep a job. It reflects much more poorly on you than it does on the person you refer to in the post! Don’t give anyone the satisfaction of getting your goat. Keep your thoughts offline when it comes to work.
Going Off the Grid
With this in mind, you might be inclined to avoid social media entirely. But that may not be an option for most people. Not only will you miss out on valuable information in your personal life, but you might be passed over for professional opportunities as a result.
It’s a good idea to be relatively private on social media. But some jobs require you to have a public social media presence. What’s more, employers might be suspicious if you can’t be found on any social media networking sites at all.
Certainly, those who are inactive on social media have no fears of posting something they shouldn’t. But in 2021, most of us want to connect with others online. Without any kind of social media presence, it’s hard to build trust in any capacity.
Rather than eliminating social media entirely, you can post professional updates or share important moments from your life. A healthy balance is key!
Be Smart When Using Social Media
Social media can be fun, but it can also pose certain dangers. To avoid making a mistake that could hurt your reputation, you’ll want to look out for these scenarios.