The Do’s & Don’ts of Social Media

Within the last decade we have become obsessed with social media. You just have to look as far as your hand to realize how tethered to it we are.

It’s fascinating how much the way we communicate has evolved in just the last ten years. Many of us use social media to do everything from simple communication with our friends to sing the praises of a company’s product—or maybe even market our own latest creation. All of this is good and fine, in fact it’s now just a way of life, but what should we know about social media to ensure that we’re using it safely and in a way that won’t come back to bite us in a few months or even years?

Here are a few tips to ensure you don’t fall foul of a social media faux pas.

DON’T: Post anything you feel a current or future employer could take issue with.

Employers and potential employers are now, more often than not, taking a look at your social media accounts. You might think that’s unfair, but it’s just a fact. They’re asking things like, is the person right for the job based on what they post. Now, I admit I tend to post quite a few things about political issues and I use a fair bit of profanity. That’s not a good idea when you’re looking for a job with an employer who may have differing views to you. If you think this could be a problem for you, avoid posts like that or make sure to have your privacy settings on lockdown so that your private life can remain private.

If you’re not currently a job seeker, you should be aware that your boss may periodically check your profile. They’ll want to see if you’ve said anything about the company or are generally communicating favorably about the brand, or they may even be checking up on your alibi. That’s right, if you call in sick and are posting non-stop on social media, it can look like you’ve lied to get out of a shift. Be smart if you’re gonna ditch “class” and keep your posting to the minimal “Ugghh I’m so sick today” kind of post. That’s right, I’m teaching you how to be a smart liar.

DO: Post positively about your work or product!

When it comes to your work and social media life, I think it’s best to keep them separate unless you’re required to use your social media accounts for work. In that case, do post good things about your job. Make positive posts about the work environment, about how wonderful a product you have and tell us what’s valuable to us about your product. When you are using social media for work, keep from posting excessively about your product as your followers can get turned off by accounts that are all “me, me, me!” If you want retention keep the posts to relative, time sensitive and/or compelling things. And don’t be afraid to throw in the odd cute animal pic, providing that’s okay with the boss.  

DON’T: Post personal information.

Avoid posting your personal information on your public posts at all costs. You’d think that it would just be common sense, but I can’t tell you how many people post their address or phone number right there on the page. Just right there. If you do post phone numbers and addresses please make sure that they’re non-personal and non-residential.

DO post things that inspire you.

It’s always good to post about subjects that are important to you. Posts that inspired you. That can be something that made you laugh or smile, something that made you think differently, and something that could inspire a deeper conversation– preferably something related to your product. Don’t hesitate to post those things, but avoid getting into the Spiral of Doom…

DON’T get into a Spiral of Doom.

What is the Spiral of Doom you ask? We’ve all been in one. It’s when you post something that is important to you but can be a little controversial. Generally they tend to be political or religious issues that inspire debate that becomes an anger infused bickering that just will not end. Some of us love to be in them, because we just like to argue or it’s fun to just follow along with the craziness, but usually this kind of argument serves no purpose and can anger people and turn them off from your brand.

DON’T buy followers or just add everyone.

Social media is not a numbers game. It’s a quality game. Occasionally it can be beneficial to have a high number of followers, but unless you’re a huge celebrity, having a high follow count probably means that you’ve either purchased followers or have a large amount of spam/bot or dead accounts following you. If you’re a company or small business owner it doesn’t matter if you have a lot of follows, it matters that you have quality followers. That’s because spam/bot or dead accounts don’t convert into business. Live, interactive and content driven followers are where it’s at (sorry zombies). Invest in those followers by providing great content. Engage with them.  If someone comments, reshares or likes your post thank them and perhaps offer them incentive. What does that look like? If you sell candy and Bob liked your post about “candy trends” then say something like “Hey Bob, thanks for liking my post. I’d love to offer you a free piece of candy.” Bob is more likely to love you and tell people “Hey, I just got a delicious free piece of candy. Check out @JoeCandy”. The more you engage people and offer them great content and some incentives, the more quality convertible followers you will gain. There is an exception to the “Don’t buy followers rule”, and we’ll hit that next.

DO: Put in the work.

As a rule it’s not a good idea to add just anyone or buy followers. The exception is that when you’re an entertainment act, sometime it is beneficial for you to have a lot of followers. Talent buyers look at numbers, but they are also looking at engagement. Primarily numbers. If Jane Doe is trying to book a tour, Caleb Clubowner is going to see how many followers she has because Caleb wants to know how popular Jane is and how many people might come out to see her. Now the problem is when Jane buys 200,000 followers but doesn’t have an audience show up to Caleb’s club, she’s likely not going to get booked again and may even gain a reputation as a poor draw. So, even if you do decide to supplement your numbers by buying followers, it’s really a good idea to invest the time to build a community from your audience.

DO: Post if you commit a felony.

If you rob a liquor store, participate in any other crime that would be considered anywhere from a misdemeanor to felony POST about it. Make sure that stuff is public. Get it all out there. We need fewer of you guys on the streets.

DON’T: Post your sex life. (Unless you’re hot and it’s with me.)

Your sex life should pretty much be behind closed doors. Many platforms prohibit accounts from posting inappropriate content i.e.: genitals, sex acts and the like. If you’re a sex professional, make sure to use an account that allows adult content—for example Twitter and Tumblr. If you’re not and you just like a bit of exhibitionism, be smart about it. Avoid posting it to public accounts under your name and always post to appropriate audiences.

DO: Just do you.

Social Media is where you can shine. Be yourself and enjoy the process. When you’re posting things for the sole purpose of getting likes or follows people see through that. Make sure to post things that vibe with who you are and what your product is about. You’ll see that when you are authentic you’ll get more engagement and likes just because people like who you are.  

Social media is made for socializing, digitally. So engage your friends, family and audiences. Post pictures of your fun day at the zoo or the fabulous meal that you’ve just cooked. Get in touch with people you haven’t seen or talked to in years. If you’re in the entertainment business, chat to fans and let them know about upcoming shows or how the show you’re doing at the moment is killer. Your audience will appreciate knowing that they can truly see into your life more than if you’re just faking it. We have really keen BS Detectors these days, so stay real.

Happy and safe posting!

Transgender Writer, Stand Up Comedian, Speaker, Activist. Looking for her bearded lobster and waiting for her bearded clam.