It never ceases to amaze me how many people are extremely casual and careless about their status updates. For goodness sake you are making a public statement every time you hit that share button. Don’t every mistake it to be a conversation between you and your friends, especially if your profile is public and searchable. Even if you are just replying to comments and if in doubt then it’s always better to reply privately or send a separate message via the many direct messaging services available. A status update for all practical purposes is a reflection of who you are, how you think and what you stand for. I decided early in my social media life span that it’s important to set certain ground rules whenever I make an update on any social networking site. I just listed some here …
Check your tone and emotions: Are the emotions you express always negative and cynical? And is this the personality that you like your status to portray? Also are you being preachy or condemning to others. It’s becoming increasingly easy for search providers to aggregate all your updates and judge the overall tone of your messages.
Stick to facts: It’s extremely easy to get onto the wrong side of the law if your updates are not factually accurate. Legal action by the government, an organizations or a person is highly probable if what you say is inflammatory, incorrect and wrongly damages the reputation of a person or an institution.
Always cite sources: If you haven’t said it or done then give credit to the person who has. Not mentioning sources is misleading people to believe that it’s your work.
Don’t make your Criticism personal: You can have genuine views and feedback about products & services offered but don’t make personal shots at people about their race, color or culture. Again stick to the facts and you will be alright.
Use separate accounts to evangelize a political or religious ideology: This is tricky but my sense is unless you are or a wannabe politician or religious leader its best to stir away from politics and religion. The best check is if the people that follow or befriend you, are they joining you for to see your updates on politics and religion or are they joining you at a personal level. If your social media account is about politics and religion then by all means update away but if you think it’s a generic account then it’s advisable to separate sensitive topics like politics and religion from generic updates.
Keep your Employers confidentiality and sensitivity in mind: Don’t share confidential information or your work related problems. It’s both courteous and politically right to use other avenues provided by organization to settle grievances. Your organizations reputation is your responsibility as well.
Try and stir away from controversy: It’s true controversy brings attention but it can often be short lived and can virtually kill your career and bring long term damage to your reputation.
Some of you may think that the above rules remove the spontaneity and honesty that is associated with social networking to which I say it’s not true. Like any social interaction be it private or public, offline or online being responsible for what you say is equally important as to being honest. Both go hand in hand and one can’t do without the other.