When it first came into popular use, social media was a place where friends could share photos, air frustrations, tell jokes, celebrate milestones and make plans. It was largely assumed that anything posted on your profile was private – safe in a space populated only by your friends, family and those close to you.
As time has gone on, the social media landscape has developed into a much more public space, with celebrities vying for social influencer status and personal branding pervading much of our everyday lives.
Our private and professional lives are now largely on show. These days, what you post on the web can have serious, lasting consequences.
The top social media mistakes to avoid
Remember that anyone can see your social media – including your manager. To avoid making the wrong impression, here’s what not to do…
Remember, Not All Jokes are Funny
Remember to be mindful of what you’re posting – humour can be a great way of grabbing and engaging your target audience, but certain types of humour may come off as mean-spirited, offensive or hurtful if seen by the wrong person. Rude or inappropriate jokes can also make you look unprofessional if you’re not careful!
1. Employers could be watching
Employers are increasingly looking at social media profiles for character judgement. Whether they’re assessing your growth potential in the business, checking your viability to remain in your current position or getting a feel for your personality before you come in for an interview, they have access to a lot of the things you put online.
For example: What if, during work hours, you claim to be a nurturing individual? Maybe you say you’re the type of person who likes to build people up because you’re looking to get that promotion. Then, if your manager sees you online writing thoughtless comments, they might question your integrity and pass you over as a result.
2. Hiring managers will check
Hoping to get a new role? Something as simple as having the different graduation dates on your LinkedIn profile and CV can really lower your chances, while having something offensive or inappropriate can completely count you out.
Potential employers want to see that you’re a passionate, professional individual and that what you put online matches up to the person they’ve been speaking to.
And, always remember – if they can see what you’re posting, so can their clients.
3. How private is private?
Social media is constantly evolving, but this isn’t always a good thing. Subtle updates to privacy settings can make your posts and your network more accessible to strangers and less of a safe space for you to document your life.
Whether your favourite platform is Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn – none of your posts are ever truly private. You must understand that even if you set the privacy of your post to ‘friends only’, all it takes is one person to take a screenshot of your post and share it with the world.
You should also be careful with the ‘friends of friends’ setting, because you just never know who could be lurking in your extended network.
4. Content never dies
Even if the social platform you’re using shuts down, you have to understand that the content you posted there has a life of its own. I’m sure you’ll have seen screenshots of tweets on Facebook, Instagram or even LinkedIn. Anyone with access to your posts can take screenshots or share them – so you can never guarantee that they’ll be contained to the platform you posted them on.
You have to be careful not to post the wrong thing. You can delete your posts, but that doesn’t mean they’re gone forever.
5. You aren’t immune to hackers
Nobody is immune to the codebreaking skills of a hacker. That means your private posts and even conversations can be leaked if anyone accesses your account for malicious reasons. Whether it’s a friend playing a prank or a sinister individual looking to steal your identity, nothing you post online is ever truly visible to ‘only me’ – no matter what your privacy settings say.
6. Your posts are searchable
Most social platforms allow you to search for content you’d like to see. This is a great tool, especially if you learn what keywords, media and hashtags your target audience likes to follow. But it doesn’t always work to your benefit.
Make sure to do regular audits of your older posts and cull anything that you wouldn’t want employers to see. Anyone looking for the right keyword could find something from months or even years ago that you didn’t want to be widely viewed.
This doesn’t mean to say that you shouldn’t use social media, or that you’re wrong for posting certain things. Just remember to be mindful when choosing the content that you post to different platforms and ask yourself whether it’s appropriate for a professional account…