We’re All Connected— for Better and Worse

The stories of people getting themselves in trouble with inappropriate social media posts is nothing new. Nor is it reserved for celebrity divas or teenager angst. If you want, you can surely find someone cursing the moment they pressed “Post” every day.

Unfortunately, you can also find more and more business owners apologizing for something they posted or an employee posted too.

Millions of companies have a social media presence—and they should. Social media has made it relatively easy to reach and interact with people who may never have known about you. The most common social media avenues are Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, and a presence on LinkedIn. They are also the easiest ways to get in trouble because— again, everyone is connected.

A recent article in Fast Company said more than 2 billion users around the world rely on social media for news and updates. This means they are getting their advice on where to get products and services online. This is great—until it isn’t.

Many people mistakenly think only friends or a closed group will see posted items. People also tend to think a post, comment, or picture is gone if they remove it from their social media platform. Both thoughts could not be further from the truth.

Columnist Lana Straub goes into further detail in “Did You Really Post That Online?” on page 42. I recommend you read it—and take it to heart—before you press “Post” again.

Only post if you are willing to have it on page 1 of a newspaper.

More and more companies are encouraging their employees to use their personal social media accounts to highlight aspects of their job. There’s a marketing advantage to doing so as personal posts are slotted higher than company updates in newsfeeds, personal comments are more likely to create engagement, and much more likely to get shared.

That is all great until a current or potential customer sees other posts from the employee—namely an off-color comment, an attempt at a joke that can be viewed as politically incorrect, or a rant from the angered employee laying into his company.

The best advice I ever heard on social media etiquette actually came from a college basketball coach. We were discussing the latest celebrity to be lamenting Twitter posts live forever when I asked what he tells his team about social media.

He said every year he gathers his players and says: Only post it if you are willing to have the same thing on page 1 of a newspaper. If you’d be embarrassed by everyone seeing the message or picture you’re considering, then don’t post it.

A simple rule that should pop up when every social media platform is opened.

Thad Plumley is the editor of WWJ and director of information products at the National Ground Water Association. He can be reached at tplumley@ngwa.org and on Twitter @WaterWellJournl.