We know that the benefits of using social media are profound. Through social networking, many businesses have grown, and individual users have blossomed many great friendships and found support when needed. Social media can be a huge blessing. However, at the same time, if you are not careful with how you use it, social media can be a huge curse.
Just like anything in life, there are benefits as well as risks to using social media. And, just like with anything in life, when it comes to social media, recognizing the risks is the first step in managing them.
1. Realize that Anything you do Can Leak Out
Think about this for a minute: You are working so hard building up your social profile. You are optimizing your profiles on various platforms, giving out great content and developing online influence. One night, you go to a friend’s party and end up getting drunk and making a fool of yourself. The next thing you know, someone has taken pictures of you and posted them all over their platforms. Well, that professional image you were attempting to build just went south. Remember that there is no such thing as real privacy anymore. If you go to a party, do not get drunk if you are working on creating a good image. Carry that image with you offline because what you do offline affects your online world and vice versa.
2. Do Not Over Promote
If all you do on your social media profiles is pitch your business, no one is going to want anything to do with you. Yes, many businesses have flourished as a result of social media. However, the reason they were successful was because they developed online relationships and trust before anything about their businesses came up. Focus on developing a good online presence and good relationships, then your business.
3. Do Not Over Post
Are you tweeting every 5 minutes of the day? Are you posting Facebook updates every hour? You are going to lose friends and followers very easily if you keep that up. If all you are doing is clogging up your friends’ feeds then you will immediately develop a reputation as a spammer regardless of what you are posting. Posting 5-7 times on Facebook throughout the day—and not all at once—is all you need to do. You can post more frequently on Twitter but not by much. Keep it natural and never clog up feeds!
4. Keep the Negativity at Bay
Had a bad day? Or even a bad month? Well, all of us have had rough times. It is natural to need to vent your frustrations from time to time. However, as tempting as it may be, if you are working on building a positive online presence, never ever vent through social media. Go get yourself a private journal or call a caring friend to get it out of your system. What you put out in your social networks is out there forever. Just imagine a potential employer or collaborator reading a Facebook post of you ranting about how you hate life or using every curse word in the book—you can kiss your opportunity goodbye.
5. Do Not Post Sexual, Religious, Political and Graphic Material
Unless you have a Facebook page that is for a religious or political cause, an adult online shop or horror movie, keep controversial content away from your personal profiles. Many people are easily offended; they will not want to network with you if you offend them.
6. Never Fight with Anyone on Social Networks.
Lurking everywhere—and especially on social media sites—are trolls who enjoy getting a rise out of people. Many will want to pick fights with you. You will know the difference between someone who is respectfully disagreeing with something you said and a troll wanting to harass you. With respectful disagreement, it’s fine to make your case. But with trolls, as tempting as it is to tell them where to go, keep your cool. Block and report them if you must. Never respond to them under any circumstance.
7. Take Legal Action in Private if Necessary.
If you come across a negative review of a book you wrote or product you created, ignore it. Even if the person who wrote the critical review purposely insulted you, just leave it alone. True story: someone wrote a critical review of a book and the author of that book told the reviewer off. The review did not tarnish the author’s image. Her own reaction did and, as a result, she was attacked online and her reputation suffered just because she could not handle seeing any kind of critical review of her work. Even if someone libels you, never ever respond online since doing so will only further damage your reputation. Take legal action if you must, but, again, keep it all offline.
Now you can see how these risks can greatly damage your online presence. In order to reap only the benefits of social media, use your common sense, but also learn everything you can about succeeding online!