This week I have followed reports on a colorful local politician, who has managed to embarrass himself, his community and his company by an off-the-cuff posting to his Facebook page.
After the fallout hit him like a ton of bricks, he profusely apologized and removed the offensive posting, but not before a local enewspaper published it and he became the talk of the town.
I share this because so often while participating in social media, we either post or respond to a post far too quickly. After we’ve posted, it’s usually too late to take it back. Reputations and careers can be ruined, character can be called into question and integrity can be compromised all because of one click.
Now, most of us aren’t out there posting attack emails full of obscenity, but I would bet that most of us have posted less-than-professional comments to a friend’s page or posted a comment that was full of spelling and grammatical errors.
Have you ever had a picture of you posted that you wish had never been taken? You may not look your best, or you may have an alcoholic beverage in your hand, which you know is frowned on by upper management. Once posted, it’s too late.
Even though our world has become more casual, more accepting of mistakes, or just more accepting in general, a first impression is a lasting impression. Or, in the words of someone wiser than myself, “You never have a second chance to make a first impression.”
There are risks to posting inappropriate and unprofessional comments, pictures and videos on social media. These risks are not just for the business professional, but for high school and college students also. Postings can keep you out of a company, or out of a college.
According to a study by Microsoft, 70% of human resource professionals have refused to hire a job applicant because of what they had posted on their social media sites. However, only 7% of recent job applicants thought that a potential employer would take the time to search social media sites. A survey by jobvite.com states that 86% of potential employers may search and look into your social media profile history.
This also holds true for colleges and universities. Admissions personnel spend time on prospective students’ social media sites. Acceptance to the college of their choice can be denied simply because of inappropriate comments or questionable content.
Take away the initial hiring or college admission scenario. Think about how you look on your social media pages and postings. Posting thoughtful comments, using correct grammar and proper punctuation can leave a positive impression of you as a professional individual. The flip side leaves the opposite impression.
For a business, there is always concern of how employees are portraying the company on their personal social media pages. Are they violating any company confidentiality concerns? Do they make the organization look less than the best? Are any trade secrets being divulged? Just as our local politician embarrassed himself personally, his company was embarrassed that he was their employee. Not a good formula for long-term employment.
So, before clicking “post”, take a minute to make sure your social media posting is representing you as a top notch individual – the type of person an organization would be proud to claim or hire. If not, make some edits or just delete. First impressions count!