Social media has made it possible to share your thoughts and ideas with thousands of virtual strangers, literally within seconds. You barely need to have formed a cohesive thought, and BOOM! There it is, posted for the world to see.
But before you hit that ‘publish’ button, do me a favor: run through this list of the top 10 things you should never post on social media. It just may save you from causing hurt or embarrassment to yourself or others!
1. Offensive content on social media
Where do I start? There are so many types of posts that fall into this category. Racial slurs, graphic images, crude jokes, swearing (except in the rare event this is an integral part of your brand), to name just a few.
Some business owners don’t think it’s a big deal to occasionally post a distasteful joke or questionable picture; I strongly disagree. This lack of awareness and respect can cause irreparable harm to your brand. When in doubt, leave it out!
2. Gossip or attacks against specific people
If you’ve been hurt or harmed in some way, you may feel justified in lashing out on social media. However, there are two big problems with this: First, when you specifically call someone out in such a public venue, you often leave that relationship in a state of disrepair. It’s pretty hard to recover from that type of attack! Second, this type of public shaming often says more about you than the person you’re talking about. It sends the message that you don’t respect others, and may damage the trust your audience has in you (“Why should I trust you when I see how easily you can turn on others?”).
3. Claiming other people’s content as your own
Any time you use someone else’s content without attribution – images, quotes, or original ideas – you run some pretty serious risks. Remember that copyright infringement is a serious offence that can lead to legal action, and that can do serious damage to your brand. While you may get away with it in the short term, it’s just not worth it!
4. Speaking negatively about an employee/boss/co-worker
Social media isn’t the place to air grievances against employees or co-workers. It also isn’t the place to give specific details about mistakes your employees have made, or about how insufferable your boss is. Sharing this type of content on social media is not only unprofessional, in rare circumstances it can be grounds for legal action.
5. Sharing specifics about an upcoming holiday or business trip
Sharing images or videos from a trip is great for helping your followers feel like they’re in on the action. The trouble is, you don’t know exactly who’s listening in! Avoid mentioning specific details about your trip (dates, locations, etc.). Better yet, share pictures once you’re back!
6. Private conversations (without permission)
Have you ever received an email or private message from a follower that you couldn’t wait to share with your audience? Maybe it was an awesome tip or trick, or maybe it was a shining testimonial about your product? It’s always a good idea to ask for permission before sharing this type of content on social media. If you’re going to be sharing a screenshot or any identifying information, you DEFINITELY need to get written permission first!
7. Too much personal information
You know I talk a lot about being yourself on social media. This mean being authentic, and letting your followers see the real YOU. This doesn’t mean, however, that you should let it all ‘hang out’! Make sure you have a good balance of informative, industry-specific content, mixed with some personal tidbits to let your followers know you’re a REAL person!
8. Financial information
Obviously, you never want to share sensitive financial information like your bank account or credit card numbers (!). But I also discourage business owners from sharing info like financial projections, quotas or earnings. While this can be acceptable in certain industries (e.g., online marketers often share monthly income reports), this isn’t the norm in most industries.
9. Sharing posts or links that aren’t substantiated
Before sharing a post or article that could be controversial or sensational, always be sure to do your homework. Sharing posts that end up being scams (or that are simply inaccurate) can send the message that you’re naïve or that you don’t care enough to fact-check. And it goes without saying: before sharing ANY link, be sure to click on it yourself first!
10. Anything you don’t want to be online FOREVER
When you put something on social media, you have to assume it’s out there permanently. In the age of screenshots, there is no ‘taking it back’, even if you’ve made a big mistake. Before you post anything remotely personal or sensitive, ask yourself, “Do I want this to be online forever?” If the answer is no, don’t hit the ‘post’ button!