With the rapid adoption of Google +, it seems that many of us will have one more online persona to manage. Hopefully some of us will use Google + as a way to wipe the social media slate clean, as a recent poll showed that 18 per cent of people regret posting something on the Internet. Personally, I think this number seems a bit low, but what I find most bewildering is the fact that despite all the very public social media foibles being made by politicians, celebrities and even the occasional layperson these days, people are not getting the message that what you post on the Internet can and will be used against you.
As the public face of Experts Exchange, I often feel the tension that exists between being personal and professional online; and just like everyone else, I’ve made my share of mistakes (though not of the Anthony Weiner calibre). So, in an attempt to save all of you from committing some of my past sins, here’s a list of my top 10 recommendations for gaining social media followers and influencing people:
1.) No one cares what you want to eat, are eating or just ate. Unless it’s some sort of animal reproductive organ. But that will (hopefully) repulse more followers and friends than it will attract. So yeah. Just don’t do it.
2.) If you’re going to Tweet at a celebrity, make sure you use the 140-characters to demonstrate your razor sharp wit. Anything less just seems desperate. (Now please refer to number three.)
3.) Razor sharp wit is the Social Media Trump Card.
4.) LinkedIn is a professional website. If your Twitter stream posts to your LinkedIn page, make sure you only Tweet resume-quality stuff. And double check that it’s all spelled correctly. Most employers find good grammar to be an asset. (And you don’t want to work for the ones who don’t.)
5.) I know the 240 people you’re connected with on Facebook are labelled as “Friends”, but really, that’s more of a technical term. You wouldn’t call all 240 of us to vent about what a skank your ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend is, so there’s no need to post it as your status. Trust me, this makes you look bad, not her.
6.) When it comes to trending Twitter Topics, proceed with caution. The other day, Keith Sweat and #babymakingsong were trending, and I guarantee I’d have lost a few followers and even more credibility if I had joined in on that conversation. (Sidenote: Someone should tell @RealChuckie that Keith’s song is one word. His version makes it seem like the title of a CSI episode; and also, the fact that this dude has nearly 200,000 followers pretty much answers the question of what’s wrong with America’s youth.)
7.) Know who follows you on each social media site and why, and cater to that audience. For instance, I use Facebook to connect with people I actually know in real life. Many of my relatives, friends from elementary school and even some of my mum’s friends have friended me on Facebook. So, when I made a snarky comment on Facebook the other day, only one person commented. In the future, I’ll save the snark for places where people expect it from me (ex- my personal blog and Twitter) and use Facebook as a way for people to keep tabs on me (e.g.- stalk out my pictures to see if I’ve had a baby, gained an inordinate amount of weight or been stricken with a bad case of adult acne).
8.) Limit profanity. Don’t be crass. Don’t post pictures of your nether regions. You would think this is self-explanatory. The news tells us this is not.
9.) Don’t talk politics. Unless that’s your shtick. In that case, talk away, but be prepared for a flame war.
10.) Put yourself in the position of those who follow you. Would you want to receive 85 Farmville requests? Probably not.
Now go forth and DON’T do.