The flurry of social media activity during and after the recent U.S. presidential election has prompted a lot of us to reconsider how Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn activities reflect individual reputation.
Then there were the reports of fake news – sensational and otherwise – designed to sway public opinions. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been slow to recognize the responsibility associated with the fact that two-thirds of users of his site get news from it (and that some of it is blatantly false, defamatory or hate-filled) even though it isn’t a traditional media outlet.
Ninety-nine percent the news that comes across my social media feeds meets my expectations of professional communication. But recently, some of it has been surprising. I don’t know whether to attribute it to algorithms or to decisions made by individuals.
Which has made me reconsider my own criteria for professional posts. I use LinkedIn and Twitter for work, but leave Facebook strictly for friends and family. I also work alone, so I don’t exactly have a social media policy.
It boils down to three priorities:
- Is it newsworthy? The noise on Twitter and LinkedIn feeds often feels chaotic to my introvert mind. If the information isn’t unique or fresh, I won’t share it. And, as with any news posted on any media, it needs to be factual.
- Is it helpful? If it can be used to genuinely help one of my connections, it makes the cut. If it is a pithy quote in a pretty picture or if I say “so what” after reading a LinkedIn article, it doesn’t. I also prefer to share information with some amount of depth.
- Does it further my brand? Social media activity should reflect professional values and identity as much as any other communications. It’s worthwhile to convey “who I am” through the information that I share and the people I engage with.
My social network tends to be sceptical of professionals who reveal too much personal information. Most of them manage risk for a living and are somewhat conservative by nature; they have specific expectations of what I will share or recommend.
If I am going to surprise my connections with a post, I’d rather it be one that adds a relatable, respectable dimension to my brand than one that would cause them to question my judgment.