You should always be wary of what you share on social media. In many cases, what you post on Twitter or Facebook or any number of other social platforms can literally be seen by anyone, for good or ill. And during this global pandemic, it’s more crucial than ever to be mindful about what you post and what you’ve already posted. A single tweet can make or break a friendship, a career, a reputation. Think before you post.
In many ways, social media is the only way to be seen right now. If you’re looking for a job, potential employers (who can’t meet you in person) will likely take that additional step to take a peek into your online life. This was true before the pandemic too, when a study from researchers at Penn State found that employers really do look at social media before hiring new employees. And posts that appear too opinionated or self-absorbed could cost applicants the job.
Already being employed doesn’t mean you’re off the hook and have carte blanche. For example, maybe you work at a big company and you’re renegotiating your contract or are being considered for a promotion. The top boss, who is unfamiliar with your work, may look you up to remind themselves who exactly you are.
Do you want your boss to see photos of you doing shots in college, wearing less-than-professional attire, or making an argument that might be deemed highly inappropriate? I didn’t think so.
Sure, it may sound fun to show the world you’re having a good time, that you have a lot of friends, or that you have a six pack. But really think about what message you're sending. This may be the only way your boss has a sense of who you are.
Ask yourself this:
Am I putting my best foot forward?
It’s OK to show what’s going on in your life! On your public accounts, just make sure you have your kindest, most joyful, most generous, loving self portrayed. It’s okay to be raw and real. But deactivate old accounts with on-the-fence postings or distasteful photos. If you have a wild social life, keep those related postings on a private platform (or better yet, don’t post them at all). Images you post will be remembered, and they may not spell out the whole you.
If it makes sense and feels part of you, post industry-related news or a bio that displays your interests and passions. Just be authentic.
Do I seem out of touch?
I’ve noticed a lot of people in my business or those in the influencer world who are posting photos of their luxurious homes, styling themselves like they are about to hit the red carpet, asking what lip color looks best on them, and so forth. If I were hiring and I saw a post like that, I’d be horrified. A lot of people are suffering, on edge and hungry for jobs. Be careful about your tone, and frankly of showing off.
Who will see my post?
Whenever I post anything to social media, I ask myself who is going to see my words and images. It must check every box – private, professional and my family. I also ask my daughters or anyone I work with before I post any pictures of them. Many people do not want to see themselves showing up on a social media feed without being asked first.
What is the purpose of this?
Ask yourself why you’re considering the post. Is it to help others? Give people a sneak peek into your life? A moment or time you’d like to honor? If the purpose seems distasteful or unimportant, you might want to consider laying off.
Make sure your tone is respectful. And before you receive criticism, make sure what you publish is something you are willing to defend yourself over.
One note in particular is about workouts. I’m a runner and I like to post my mileage as a way to keep tabs on myself and to promote a healthy lifestyle (bumps along the way and all). There is a limit though. Exercise posts can seem overly indulgent and strangely creepy. No one wants to see your butt squeezes. You may think they do, but I assure you, we don’t! A fun run or a race for a good cause? Great!
Just go back to asking yourself – does it have a purpose?