We currently live in a technology-crazed world. More often than not while out at a social gathering, you’ll see (roughly) 6 out of 10 people glued to their mobile devices rather than talking face to face with their peers, myself included. This rings true at restaurants, sporting events, or even a house party. With access to social media accounts so widely available, “leaks” and “uh-ohs” can happen very as easily.
By a “leak” I mean accidentally sharing information that should have been kept private for some time. The example that comes to mind is when a Microsoft employee tweeted about features on Bing 2, when the project still hadn’t yet been formally announced (Microsoft Employees Leak Bing 2 Info on Twitter).
By an “uh-oh” I mean content that seems harmless yet could be very costly. The most recent case of this is an employee who got fired for tweeting about summer hours at her job (Worker Fired for Tweeting About Playing Golf).
How They Happen
Simply put, it is incredibly easy to post information on your social media accounts from anywhere, using just about anything: your computer, mobile phone, even your MP3 players or iPad. Heck, Microsoft once tried to market a cell phone that really only promoted the functions of being able to use MySpace (R.I.P.), Facebook, and Twitter easily and in one place. (See Microsoft KIN) It’s the whole “on-the-go” concept that allows you to post without having the time to stop and think about the content you are distributing. This subject is what brings me to rule number one:
Stop and Think About Your Content
This is easily one of the most overlooked rules of posting on social media outlets. All of us have been guilty of saying things out of haste in the past. The problem in the current day is that instead of writing it down in a journal, calling someone to talk it out, or just keeping it private, some people tend to vent their frustrations online. There are no content regulators, there aren’t any filters as to what you can say; you have to rely on the voice in your head saying, “Should I really post this?” (See Redner Group Loses Biggest Client Over Tweet) A major place of folly for posting is late night functions. I would apply the same rules of Don’t Drink and Drive to Don’t Drink and Tweet. Set a mental block or download an application on your mobile to restrict you from tweeting or Facebook’ing after 9pm each night, especially on the weekends.
Separate Business & Personal Accounts
This will be a lifesaver if you are responsible for tweeting for your job as well as managing your own personal account. Separate everything. If you are tweeting on a computer use separate web browsers (Ex: work account on Mozilla Firefox, personal on Google Chrome.) Mobile phones on each provider have hundreds of ways to utilize social media with a few major players in the application world. If you are set up to use Hootsuite for work, download the native Twitter application for your mobile, Tweetdeck, Seesmic, etc., for personal use. Recently the biggest splash in the news for this type of mix-up was Chrysler Auto’s Twitter feed in which an employee not only used profanity but he also insulted the entire city of Detroit (See Chrysler’s Twitter Account Accidentally Drops the F-Bomb). Given the auto-crisis that had hit the U.S., this was really not a good time to mix up personal and business accounts.
Remember the Sphere Your Messages Reach
Just because your Facebook or Twitter account is “protected” or “private” doesn’t mean that your message won’t reach a greater audience. Chances are someone you don’t think will see your content, will. Users who are allowed to follow you can still share information of yours without you knowing, via quoted retweets or simply copying and pasting. On the other hand if your information is public, you can turn up in search results whether it is on a Twitter search or a Google search. Your message can be seen by anyone, which is a key point to remember.
The key messages to remember here are to simply slow down, realize where your content is coming from, what kind of image it displays, and how it may be received by not only your target audience but also by a global reach.