What not to share on social media
Sex, politics & religion – we all know the three things that you shouldn’t discuss in polite company.
But what about the things that you shouldn’t share on social media?
Understanding what you should and shouldn’t share on social media like marketing, step one is to understand your audience.
Different social media platforms serve different purposes and naturally have different audiences. As a general rule, Facebook is for friends, LinkedIn is for professional networks and Twitter goes to virtually everyone. This means that what might be appropriate to share on Facebook may not be appropriate or relevant for LinkedIn and vice-versa.
I find the best way to work out what you should and shouldn’t share is to imagine that the social media platform is a real life situation. Think about what you would/wouldn’t say in each of these situations, it should give you a good idea of what you should/shouldn’t share on social media.
Imagine this: You’re at a social event with a large group of friends and acquaintances. You know that some people are listening to you and some aren’t, although you can’t be sure who is paying attention. You also know that some people in the room may relay what you’ve said to others.
What would you say in this situation?
What would you choose not to say?
Think about the ‘friends’ you have on Facebook, chances are a lot of them are acquaintances rather than close friends. The best rule here – save the dirty laundry for the laundry basket.
Audience: Virtually everyone
Imagine this: You’re standing in the middle of a crowded square with a megaphone. Lots of people around you also have megaphones.
What would you be happy to shout with a megaphone?
What would you say to get heard over the other megaphones?
Twitter is like shouting, you need to make your voice heard but you also need to make sure that you’re comfortable to broadcast what you’re saying. In Twitter, people choose to follow you, rather than make a two-way connection; you can’t be sure who will read your tweet.
Audience: Professional networks
Imagine this: You’re in a boardroom full of colleges, superiors and business connections.
What would you say to this crowd?
What language would you use?
Most people use a different language when they’re in a professional environment, compared to speaking with their friends. An obvious example is expletives.
There are plenty of social networks out there but the strategy remains the same, think about a real life situation that best reflects the social network environment. What would you/wouldn’t you say in that situation?
A final warning:
Remember – what you share on the internet is there permanently. It’s not like saying the wrong thing and hoping no one heard you, there is a permanent and accurate record of everything you say and do online. Therefore, think about this:
“Would I be comfortable if what I’ve shared showed up on the front cover of the newspaper?”
If the answer is no, don’t share it.
Katherine Morrell, Content Strategist