Karen and I spent much of the summer working on some courses for Algonquin College and one of the main topics that I covered was about responsible online behaviour. It’s a fascinating topic and one I think we all need to be reminded of on a regular basis.
Here’s the thing… we are living in a whole new world and most of us have no idea what we’re doing and what the impact of what we’re doing will be. We need to really think about the information that we’re putting online and what that means. You’ll need to keep this in mind not just on your business pages but on your personal accounts because whether you like it or not, what you have to say during your personal time and use of social media can easily affect your business life.
People judge you
We all do it. When people post things online we get an impression and that impacts how we view that person overall. That means that you need to decide whether what you’re posting online is representative of how you want people to see you.
I know of several stories where entrepreneurs have lost business because a potential client was turned off by some of the things they were saying on Facebook or Twitter that had nothing to do with their business. Those potential clients decided that they didn’t want to work with someone with that kind of personality or attitude.
Are they really your friends?
People seem to feel an undeserved sense of safety when they are posting on Facebook because it’s only going to their friends, not the general public. But who are your friends?
The average Facebook user has over 100 friends (the stats differ a lot, but some say the average is as high as almost 300). Most of us are “friends” with a lot more people than just our close circle of family and friends. Always think about who you’re talking to and whether you would say what you’re about to say on Facebook if you were standing at a networking event with a group of acquaintances.
It all comes down to one thing. Post whatever you want online - just make sure that you have thought about what you’re posting. Consciously realize that what you’re saying has impact and once you’ve done that, go ahead and post photos of your kids, of you out drinking, or on vacation. Go ahead and talk about politics or how angry you are at this person or that business.
Nobody is telling you that you can’t be real or that you can’t be yourself, just understand that your online you needs to be just as aware of the impression you’re giving off as you are when you’re not online.
I have guidelines I’ve set for myself. I am ok with posting photos of my family and vacations. I’m ok with sharing information about my career through my personal channels. I don’t swear online. I try to stay away from overly controversial topics but I judge that on a case-by-case basis. I don’t vent online.
Examine your content – are you happy with it? If so, that’s great, keep at it. But if any red flags pop up, spend some time thinking about what your own guidelines should be.