Social media can help generate new business leads, foster professional relationships and enhance your reputation — but a single tweet can undo years of hard work. Consider the case of Justine Sacco, the PR professional who tweeted a horrible joke before a flight, only to arrive at her destination hours later to discover not only that she had been fired, but that she was international news and the subject of the viral hashtag #HasJustineLandedYet.
Here’s advice to help you leverage the power of social media while avoiding trouble.
- Compartmentalize. Most people mix their personal and professional social media accounts to some degree. The key is to observe your company’s social media policy, and avoid posting controversial content. A good rule of thumb is to only post things that would be appropriate at your board meeting or at your family Thanksgiving.
- Be mindful of the crumbs you leave behind. Everything you post — from comments about news articles to off-the-cuff remarks on other people’s posts — could be seen by family, clients and colleagues.
- Be respectful. Disagreement can be expressed without resorting to cheap shots and childish insults. Those may be satisfying in the moment, but they don’t age well. Are you enhancing the conversation or just settling a score? If you don’t have anything nice to say, say nothing.
- Think of your audience. Before you post, ask yourself if it is useful to your goals. Will the message help you get more business, educate your clients or raise your profile amongst your colleagues?
- Don’t court controversy. Think twice about addressing politics, religion or other controversial topics. Is your position related to your investment strategy, and does it align with the values you want to convey to clients?
- Be careful what you amplify. Liking, retweeting and other ways of acknowledging others’ posts can be seen as endorsements.
- Be a good custodian. Have you eliminated any information from your post that could reveal personal information about anyone other than yourself? Anecdotes about clients, even when not identifying them, aren’t a good idea without permission.
- Remember to have fun. Social media shouldn’t be solemn. Repost a cartoon, or an inspirational anecdote, or an interesting video. And #You’llBeFine.