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Common Social Media Blunders to Avoid

In today’s expansive social media environment everything you say can and will be used against you. Just as easily as you might pass judgment on someone in your network for sharing too many baby pictures and selfies, that same person can pass judgment on you for making an off-color joke. If you want to maintain a healthy and positive social media presence, you must learn restraint and follow a few simple common sense principals.

Don’t Wax Political

if_85_832137Not everybody wants to hear you rant and rave about the latest hot-button political issue. While some of your Facebook friends and Twitter followers might appreciate getting into a caustic, politically charged argument right there on your public social media home page, most of your followers probably didn’t accept your initial friend request thinking they were subscribing to some hyper-progressive or hyper-conservative webcast. But there are other reasons to avoid climbing atop your online soapbox: your take on some political issue can alienate those of your followers who support an opposing viewpoint. It’s as simple as that.

And don’t forget that potential employers often take a peep at your social media footprint before making a final hiring decision. Do you feel lucky? Perhaps said employer shares your political perspective. Great! But chances are just as likely that he or she stands on the other side of the fence. Don’t leave your future employment status up to chance. Do your best to remain as politically neutral as possible on your personal social media accounts.

Don’t Brag

if_human-characteristic-001_2059663People can get carried away with what they share online. With our smartphones ever handy, hitting the “share” button can be a difficult temptation to avoid. Just one tap on your phone’s HD display and your entire social media network can now see the vegan panini you’re having for lunch. On some level, such inanity is an important aspect of your social media presence. It shows that you are conventional and predictable and, generally, “not too weird.” The behavior of incessantly posting cute and funny family photos online often paints the picture of an upstanding citizen with old-fashioned family ideals. But too much of any one thing is necessarily not a good thing.

One hundred photos of your newborn baby can alienate those of your followers who have yet to reach that particular life milestone. To them, your endless stream of baby-shares might come across as inconsiderate bragging. The same idea applies to those expensive work dinners and hotel check-ins associated with your blossoming career in corporate America. It’s fine to let people know you’ve done well for yourself, but there’s no need to drive away your underemployed high school friends by posting daily updates concerning your glamorous, high-stakes career responsibilities. The exception here, of course, could be career-focused social media networks such as LinkedIn, where bragging about your accomplishments is the whole point.

Avoid Embarrassing Affiliations

if_strategy-obstacles-plan-avoid_2424474On open network social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, your followers can often see who and what you interact with, even if the recipient exists outside of your followers’ direct network. Facebook may even recommend products or organizations to your followers based on the fact that you have, in the past, interacted favorably with the digital entity in question. Do you really want your network of 1,000 Facebook friends to receive an ad that directly associates you with a product or service that you don’t even remember “liking?” And never forget that pages or personas that you follow or like are often compiled in a neat list on your profile page for your entire social network (and everyone else too) to peruse at its leisure.

Perhaps you’ve followed a controversial comedian who has recently gone too far with one of his acts. Anyone searching your profile page can easily discover that you, evidently, still support the troubled comedian in question. Now, in that visitor’s eyes, you are forever linked with the comedian’s controversial statements, even if you have long since lost interest in that particular funnyman. Always be aware of your social media affiliations. It never hurts to spend a few minutes every now and again updating your list (e.g., perhaps you’re a fan of The Cosby Show).

Don’t Lose Your Cool

if_cool_219945Occasionally you may post an opinion on your public social media account, only to have the opinion harshly criticized by one of your friends or followers. If you’re human, your gut reaction might be to fire back at the irascible commenter with a harsh rebuke of your own. After all, you put a lot of thought and effort into your Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr posts. Negative feedback can often feel like a personal attack. But as a general rule, you should avoid getting into a public argument on any social media channel. While in real life you can spend fifteen minutes arguing with the person who just stole your spot in Walgreen’s parking lot, you do so knowing that said argument will eventually be forgotten by both parties-all of that terrible, unbecoming language you used has not been recorded and archived for posterity.

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