If you search "fired over a Tweet" on Google, you get more than 30 million hits. It turns out that there are things you just shouldn't post on social media.
Indeed, the costs of a social media screw up can be high. Trouble with your boss. Legal fees. A public shaming.
There's a new best-selling book about social media missteps with disastrous consequences called "So You've Been Publicly Shamed." Author Jon Ronson met with recipients of high-profile public shamings. "The shamed are people like us, people who say make a joke on social media that came out badly, or made a mistake at work," according to publicity materials for the book. "Once their transgression is revealed, collective outrage circles with the force of a hurricane and the next thing they know they're being torn apart by an angry mob, jeered at, demonized, sometimes even fired from their job. A great renaissance of public shaming is sweeping our land. Justice has been democratized. The silent majority are getting a voice. But what are we doing with our voice? We are mercilessly finding people's faults. We are defining the boundaries of normality by ruining the lives of those outside it. We are using shame as a form of social control."
So, obviously, we wall want to avoid this. Here are 5 questions from Hootsuite that we should ask ourselves before we post that Tweet or that blog post.
Is this post valuable to my social media followers?
You don't want to spam your audience with stuff that they don't care about or need. But you also don't want to go radio silent on them. Either way, you lose a portion of your audience.
"This is particularly relevant when it comes to retweeting or reposting content from sources outside of your business," writes Olsy Sorokina. "Ask yourself why your followers (and not just you, personally) would find the content to be valuable. This can help you catch off-brand content, or posts that don't align with your target audience."
If you are writing something promotional, make sure that it is both good for sales and offers something to your reader, be it a new piece of information or some good advice.
Is this post contributing to my social network's mission?
When you're sure about the value of your message, then you need to decide what channel is best suited to carry it. Does each of your social media profiles service it's own purpose? That makes it easy. Which channel's mission statement best fits the post. If it a high quality photo, maybe Instagram is best. If you have a new angle on a current issue, then joining a real-time discussion on Twitter might be best.
Is the format of this post optimized for the social network I've selected?
So you've chosen your channel, now think about how to display your information best. Look at your format. Is this the best word count? Can you add a photo? How about a video that better illustrates your information? Are you using the right hashtags?
"Adding more assets to your post will not only make it more shareable for your audience, but also increase its value; which, as we have established earlier, is the key factor," writes Olsy Sorokina.
Does the quality of assets match the standards of my social media presence?
All components of your messaging should be held to a high standard. What does that mean in practice? "For example, while Tweets with photos give a boost to engagement rates, ask yourself whether the photo will add to the audience's interest in the post," writes Olsy Sorokina. "If you want to invest in social video to increase your presence on channels like YouTube and Facebook, choose subjects that lend themselves to a video explanation, instead of wasting your resources on something that will struggle to get views."
Am I posting this at the best time?
There are a lot of sources online that claim to be able to tell you when you should post on each social platform. You should gather your own analytics to see when your audience is online and engaging with content. Consider geography and time zones for your main audience. Chart when you tend to receive the highest engagement. Balance output across your channels.
Also be aware of what else is happening in the world and on social media. You don't want to Tweet something promotional while everyone else on Twitter is dealing with a national tragedy.
Also monitor you competitors. You don't want your messages to be too similar to theirs.
"If you're using a social media management tool, it's helpful to set up streams to monitor your competitors' social media accounts in order to adjust the timing of your posts," writes Olsy Sorokina.