All use of social media must come with a warning at some point. Former model, Melissa Stetten who back in 2012 made headlines for sharing a few private moments on a plane drives the point home with her recently publicized exchange with Donald Trump Jr. who is now, of course, in the news for getting divorced.
The case provides an opportunity for reviewing four handy, timeless rules of conduct for social media users and social media managers alike.
- Think before you act. Social media channels are seductive because they feel so personal and private. Consider that in reality they are all open and public and take into account that you are, to all intents and purposes, on a stage.
- Draw your "do not cross" lines. Use your values to help draw up your boundaries. Just because your thumbs can twitch or your fingers can type doesn’t mean anything goes. Ultimately you will be remembered as much by how you did things as what you did.
- Project your personality. Yes, online everything is intentional and everything needs to be constructed but that doesn’t mean it’s fake. Fake takes up a lot of time and energy to maintain and unlike being real, over time, it continues to demand time and energy because, well it’s fake. So take pains to project who you are, really, and that will make the job easier long term.
- Don’t do anything stupid. That admonition also goes to what you say. The internet never forgets and what you said (or did) will come back to haunt you at some point. This is the part where I say look again at Rule No 1.
We are nearing the end of the first decade of the 21st century. Some things should be evident:
- Social media is here to stay.
- Context and intent are always a challenge in online environments.
- Values and purpose always trump cheap publicity stunts.
We will continue to be challenged by social media use. That’s fine. We should also endeavor to learn as we go along.