Did you know that there are more than 400 million tweets sent per day on Twitter? Did you know that there are more than 699 million active Facebook users every day? This list only grows when we start including other growing social networking sites such as Google+, Pinterest, Instagram and so on.
These stats only mean that the freedom, the ability to have your own platform where you can say things you like to say, has made social media so popular. The number of people adapting to social media, and at the speed of growth, is simply astounding.
Like anything else, this has given birth to two school of thoughts when it comes to social media:
But wait, there is a third group as well. This belongs to those who use every opportunity to speak against it but can’t stay away from it.
Know What You Can And Can’t Do Online
Social media is the new media. It is here to stay, whether or not you and me like it. This is the way we are going to communicate and stay in touch with the world. This is the way businesses are being conducted, connections are made, jobs are being searched and new business ventures are being established.
It is a very powerful tool in your hand. Used correctly, it can bring you fortune. But, because it is powerful, if you use it the wrong way, you can land in serious trouble. People have lost their jobs, their insurance and even got arrested because of incorrect use of social media. Some of the examples of how things can go wrong are:
- 13 Posts that got people fired.
- When oversharing online can get you arrested.
- 10 Ways To Get Arrested For Tweeting.
I have shared earlier how social media can be helpful in your endeavors. This time, I want to bring your attention to things which won’t get you arrested, but can damage your reputation, dampen your brand identity and possibly repel people, if you aren’t careful.
So, how do you do that?
Know Your Brand To Protect Your Brand Reputation
It boils down to your awareness of your brand reputation in the first place. Do you know what do you want to be known for? Do you know what people should think (and visualize) when they think of you? Being aware of your branding goals can be of tremendous help in managing your brand reputation.
On the other hand, if you don’t know who you want to be online, that is a very challenging situation. This is because you are still online doing things, not knowing whether those things are helping you or destroying your brand value.
So, if you don’t have branding goals, take time to define them for yourself. Declare how you want to be known online. When people Google on your name, what should they find about you? Write your goals down and that will drive your online activities.
Perception Is Everything – Beware
When you are posting Facebook status updates, putting your LIKEs and sharing other people’s content on Facebook, you should be aware that what you are doing is a public information. Your activity is permanently being associated with your name forever. You should be extremely cautious of what you are engaging with before you put that LIKE or post that status update.
How about Twitter? When you are tweeting something or retweeting somebody else’s tweet, are you being careful? Is that tweet going to add value to your brand reputation? Does that tweet represent your view on that subject? If not, why are you tweeting it?
Before posting something online (whether it is Twitter/Facebook/Google+, your comment on a blog or your own blog post), always ask these questions:
- Does this post/tweet/Like/Share represent me?
- Does this post/tweet/Like/Share add value to somebody ?
- Does this post/tweet/Like/Share add any value to my own brand identity?
If the answer to these questions are not affirmative, may be, you don’t want to click on the PUBLISH button.
Activities That Will Definitely Hurt Your Brand Reputation
A lot of people come to me asking for help in building their personal brand. People who want to start their own business, people looking to grow their business, small business owners, aspiring book authors, life coaches and others who want to build their online footprint.
When I talk to them, there are about 10 things I ask them to STOP doing (if I find that they have been doing before seeking my assistance) in their online world. People who continue to do these things are never able to build anything online. I want to share those things with you so you can avoid those mistakes as well:
1. Don’t Like/Share/Tweet Cute But Inappropriate Jokes
Husband-wife jokes, cute jokes at the cost of other people etc. are also inappropriate along with other inappropriate jokes category. If you will not be comfortable sharing that joke with your family and children – it is inappropriate. Do not associate yourself with a joke of that nature because a moment of pleasure will only damage your brand reputation in the long run.
2. Don’t Like/Share/Tweet On Controversial Issues
If the controversy is not part of your branding goal, why would you engage in expressing your opinion about such an issue in public? What value are you going to add to anybody by participating in such an activity in public?
Things like sharing your view about a government bill that a foreign government is passing (where you have no influence), why would you use your public platform to express your opinion especially when nobody is asking for your opinion? It just doesn’t make sense!
3. Don’t Like/Share/Tweet Unrelated YouTube Videos
I see professionals, entrepreneurs and others who are working so hard in building their brand reputation, sharing unrelated songs and YouTube videos on their Facebook wall. I wonder how that fits into their branding goals.
You may have interest in music (I love listening to Bollywood songs from 80’s). But that doesn’t mean that you should keep sharing those YouTube videos on Facebook and Twitter if music is not your line of business. Sharing YouTube song videos and movie clips can damage your brand reputation faster than anything else unrelated that you post.
4. Don’t Like/Share/Tweet Your Religious Views
Believing in God is a good thing. Having an in-depth knowledge of your religion is a great thing and I take it as my obligation. But, if my followers/fans do not share my religious views, I am not adding any value to my brand reputation by pushing my religious views to everyone who is connected to me.
Unless your goals are to create your brand reputation as a religious person, you want to avoid sharing your religious views in public unwarranted just like you wouldn’t do that in public without an appropriate occasion.
5. Don’t Like/Share/Tweet Your Political Views
Again, do you see why this is inappropriate to comment on a certain political figure (especially in a negative tone)? I often see people sharing political thoughts (mostly negative) about politicians, government policies and asking others to “share as many times as possible”. I also notice that these people don’t have their own brand value.
On the other hand, if you look at leaders, successful entrepreneurs, they do not engage in such activities. Why? Simply because by doing so, they realize that they are neither helping anybody, nor it is helping their own brand reputation.
6. Don’t Like/Share/Tweet Anything Racial
Not even racial cute jokes. We live in a very sensitive world. You have no idea which joke will hurt somebody’s feelings and they will go ahead and write a blog post and publicize everywhere that you made a racial comment. This activity doesn’t help you or anybody else. But it can certainly hurt your brand reputation big time.
7. Don’t Share/Tweet Inappropriate Personal Pictures
Posting personal pictures such as a picture or two with family in a presentable way, gives a personal touch to your brand reputation. People like it because it shows the human aspect of your brand. However, posting pictures of you partying on a Friday evening, drinking, gambling and all kinds of activities is inappropriate. Too much of anything is bad, and you should avoid posting too many personal pictures.
8. Don’t Spam People With Private Messages
You may know that sending automatic private welcome messages on Twitter is considered as spam. Do you also know that sending “Hi” and “Hello” type private messages on Facebook to people without a purpose is also spamming?
Everybody’s time is valuable. If you can’t say something that really needs attention of the person you want to message, why would you want to take their time for nothing of significance (especially if they are not your close friends)? If you have a habit of sending messages to people to just check on them, I highly discourage you from doing that. Send that feature for a meaningful purpose and it will add value to your brand reputation. But if you waste it just like that, you are hurting yourself.
9. Don’t Offer Unsolicited Business Opportunities
If you know somebody personally, you can always pickup your cellphone and call them to present your business proposition. But, if you just got connected to me today, why would you send me a link to an opportunity that you think, will help me? If I indulge in such activities, I will immediately add myself to your spammer list, won’t I?
10. Don’t Use Your Online Time To Complain, Criticize Or Condemn
This is another big NO NO! Society in general is negative. We already have enough negativity all around us. I don’t go online to add some more negative to my mind. Similarly, I need to be contingent of people around me.
Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain – and most fools do. ~Benjamin Franklin [tweet this]
People can be so negative that they even use Facebook to criticize those who share positive things such as quotes and positive thoughts. I have seen some people complaining about that as well while those who complain, say nothing uplifting. My recommendation is, if you can’t say something good, then don’t say anything.
Over To You – Did I Miss Something?
While these are not the only 10 things that are not to be done, but I think it gives a good idea as to what we should avoid doing online on social networks. Don't you think?
Would you like to add a couple of more activities that you think we should also avoid to protect our brand reputation as a student, professional, entrepreneur, job seeker etc.? Please share your recommendations in the comments section. Thank you kindly!