Have you ever posted something you regretted? Most tech users have!
(Long Island, N.Y.) One of my favorite workday quotes as a magazine editor was when one of our graphic artists declared, “Don’t you wish life had an ‘undo’ button?” (Or, for Mac users, an “Apple-Z” command). It’s too bad life doesn’t have an undo button but, in social media, the delete button can be your friend.
Sometimes, we post and hit enter too quickly and then can’t delete our words before the damage is done. According to a new Gadgetology study released by Retrevo, 32 % of all people surveyed said they posted something online they regretted. When you consider iPhone users exclusively, that number jumps to 59%. Users of other smartphones came in at 54%.
The Immediacy of Mobile Media
Perhaps it’s because our iPhones, Blackberries and Droids are always with us. We may be multitasking (hopefully not driving!) and decide it’s a good idea to make a post about something funny we saw or heard. Or maybe we want to vent about something — from our boss to traffic on the L.I.E. — and our smartphone is the easiest way to do so. Maybe it’s just because people who access Twitter, Facebook and the like through our smartphones tend to use social media more often — because we’re posting more frequently, the odds that we will say “the wrong thing” increases.
Taking Back Our Words
Fortunately, 13% of all users were able to remove the offending post before it did significant damage. Another 9 % weren’t as lucky — 3% say the post ruined their marriage or relationship, while 6% said it caused problems at work or at home.
More significantly to business owners, we have no way of measuring how many potential clients were lost as a result of an “offensive” or incendiary Facebook post. If someone doesn’t like something you post on Facebook, they’re probably not going to contact you and tell you. Instead, they simply won’t call you or inquire about your business.
Drawing Lines in the Social Media Sand
For this reason, it’s important to maintain a distinction between your professional social media life and any personal social media you may use. There are a number of ways to do this:
- Set up separate accounts under different names (for instance, your business name and your own name) and don’t let your business associates into your personal network
- Use different social media for different purposes — for instance, use Facebook to share photos with friends and family, and utilize Twitter and LinkedIn for professional connections.
Having this separation permits you to be a little bit more “loose” on your personal accounts. For instance, you might be inclined to post about your sick child or a fun weekend party on a personal account — information you wouldn’t share with business associates.
Even if you maintain separate accounts, however, clients and business associates could be offended if they discover you have another account and haven’t friend-ed or followed them. Be prepared to defend your decision or work very hard to keep your “alternate online identity” secret.
Additionally, there are certain topics it’s best to avoid as a businessperson, even on your personal accounts — unless, of course, you work in one of these fields.
- Sex/Sexual preferences
Yes, the “big three” of topics not to be discussed in “mixed” company remains the same whether we are at a dinner party or on the Web. No surprises there, right?
Remember, it’s best to maintain professionalism on all your social media accounts. You never know who is watching!