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Sound Advice for Social Media Networking

June 22, 2010

  We’ve all have heard the horror stories of people losing their jobs because they’ve been too outspoken on Social Media websites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc.  I don’t know what some consider as “too outspoken”, but I’ve tried to offer a helpful opinion on various topics, and/or solution to problems that others run across.  I would think if you try to offer assistance to someone, how can that possibly be misconstrued, right?  Well, frankly, anything can, and will be misconstrued by somebody, somewhere, right?  🙂

I also think many “outdated” seasoned staffers think you shouldn’t even offer an opinion unless specifically asked.  Just how crazy is that?  I guess it all comes down to your audience.  During my last transition, I heard it said (more than once) that many differences are occurring between the “older” keep-it-to-yourself generation, and the “younger” sharing-of-interesting-stuff generation.

We probably shouldn’t even think about how safe we are even if we don’t spend time on social websites at work.  There have been cases of people getting fired because of discretionary pictures, harmful comments, or status updates that they posted from home.  If you are bored at work, it may not be wise to share these thoughts on a social website.  Anything you post becomes a public domain – there is very little privacy, and that post about your employer, and/or boss may become searchable, and permanently accessible on the Internet.  Think about the implications BEFORE you post!

You may think “Everyone has the right to free speech”, right?  It is true, but at the same time you probably don’t want your employer to draw conclusions about your character based on what you do in your spare time, or at work.  Just think carefully about the implications of opening up your private life, and what those actions can lead to in your public life.

You may be shocked to find out that a recent research has shown that close to half of business managers check Facebook, and other sites regularly to see how their employees, or perspective employees behave during their off time.

Here are some simple ideas on how to play it safe on social websites:

  • Do NOT use social websites at work, or during work time (I know, I’m breaking my own rule by finishing this blog, but I’m still trying to be productive).
  • Do NOT bad-mouth your employer, your coworkers, or your boss.  It will most certainly come back to haunt you sooner, or later!
  • Do NOT post any compromising pictures, or visual evidence of using illegal substances; even a drunken college picture can harm you.  By the way, you may even get arrested!  Cops use Facebook, etc as much as anyone else.
  • Do NOT disclose any personal information, and keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t leak out.  Google your name from time to time just to see what appears.
  • Let your friends know how you feel about those embarrassing pictures that they posted of you, and if you don’t feel good about it, ask them to remove them!  At the same time, don’t forget about your friends’ interests when posting pictures of them.  Your friend may not be happy to know that he, or she is the center piece on one of your compromising pictures.
  • Never discuss anything confidential online with anyone.  Especially, through “private” messages on social networks.  They are not as “private” as you may think.

The bottom line:  If you value your job, or your next job, and don’t want to lose it over social websites, it may be worthwhile to think about keeping your social networking accounts as “worker-friendly” as possible.

Don’t dwell on it, but what have you done in the past that you may not be proud of now?  It’s never too late to police yourself.

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