Social media is the virtual Big Brother. You get involved, you get comfortable, you get complacent, and suddenly you forget that you’re on camera 24/7, 365 days a year.
It’s very easy to make a mistake. We all do it. Everybody slips up from time to time.
Solution: be smart about who you invite into your online communities. If you’re mixing business (employer, associates, clients) with pleasure (friends, family, relationships) on the same network it’s disturbingly easy for something to go wrong. And even if you’re the very epitome of decorum, somebody else can very easily ruin things for you. This doesn’t have to be intentionally malicious – an innocent act like sharing a photograph where you perhaps don’t come off particularly well can do major damage to your status and reputation.
(This is particularly true on Facebook. Pay careful attention to your privacy settings.)
Twitter is an open network, and as such it doesn’t lend itself to being overly personal or bold. Be yourself, but be the best version of who that is. With more and more employers using social media to research job candidates, you cannot afford to be casual. Doing something stupid on the internet isn’t just for Christmas: it’s for life.
I’m not a fan of online anonymity, particularly in the comment sections of websites. But if you’re concerned about the implications of your personal life impacting on your professional it might be the right thing to do. You may also wish to consider protecting your updates on Twitter.
(It’s worth noting that both of these measures will likely have a negative impact on your potential to do business within social media.)
Let me be clear: it’s absolutely fine to friend your boss. Broadening your relationship beyond the limitations of the office can actually enhance your career. Enjoy the company of your colleagues? Want to impress your clients? Go ahead and friend them online.
But here’s the thing: you can never, ever forget that you’re being watched. All of the time.