Social media has thrust our lives and businesses into somewhat uncharted territory, in the sense that there’s not really a line between personal and professional anymore, since everything you do online so accessible. Further to that notion, practicing safety and responsibility online will save you from both personal and PR disasters (and potentially legal trouble too).
The number one rule of thumb: THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS PRIVACY ONLINE.
Remembering this will make your life a lot easier when it comes to deciding whether or not something is appropriate or not to post online. Regardless of your privacy settings, nothing is safe from the eyes of everyone. Remember, posting on social media means posting something on the Internet, and you should assume the world could see it. An easy way to think of this: if you wouldn’t post it on a billboard, don’t post it on social media.
Here’s some more [strongly recommended] guidelines for social media usage:
- As a business owner, have a social media policy for all of your employees. This will protect you from liability issues, as well as PR and business nightmares. You also want to ensure that anyone posting about your business is keeping your brand messaging consistent. Here’s some great examples of corporate social media policies.
- Stay away from posting negative comments about people or businesses. There’s a difference between a valid review, and slander from a bitter ex-employee or partner.
- Don’t be the person who posts embarrassing photos of other people on social media, especially people you work with. This is bad form, and will likely come back to bite you in one form or another.
- Stray from any offensive language: racism, sexism, sexual content, swearing, etc. This will always come back to bite you. Even if it’s a joke, don’t do it. Ever. If you want to see how a friendly joke in the past can ruin your career, sift through any political bombshell from the last several years. Remember the painful collapse of Calgary MLA Deborah Drever? She can thank her social media posts for that one.
- Just like social faux pas states: the Internet is no place for religion or political rants either. Passion is one thing, but calling out people for their religious or political beliefs is dangerous territory. Besides, you’ll always be offending and segmenting a likely large demographic of your friends, clients or coworkers.
- When it comes to photos, don’t post other people’s photos without permission, or post someone else’s work as your own. We see this a lot on Instagram, people just pull any old image off Google and post it from their account. Head’s up: this is bad form, and most of the time, very illegal. To take advantage of the great photos people post of your work or business, just politely ask if you can use the image, with credit, of course.
- Certain things should be done in an official capacity, not on social media: hiring or firing, apologies, etc. Don’t post confidential corporate information either (ie: salaries).
- Change your privacy settings on all of your social media outlets. The number one rule of thumb still applies, but this is one added security measure that can make snoopy bosses or clients give up on online digging.
- Don’t feel the need to add everyone on Facebook who tries to add you. Unless they are truly your friends, don’t invite them into your personal life.
- An online threat is still a threat and will be taken as seriously as one by the authorities.
THINK BEFORE YOU POST. Edit, re-edit and be 100 per cent mindful with everything you post. Ask yourself these four questions every time:
1) Will this offend someone?
2) Will this reflect badly on myself or my business?
3) Is this breaking any laws or agreements?
4) What is the purpose of this?
Still confused? That’s okay, we’re here to help. Reach out with any questions!