Um….no. We have to remember that with social networking, things are a lot more public than we realize. And our friends often have the opportunity to share information about us with their friends, some of whom we may not know. Information we’ve shared can wind up going a whole lot further than we expect.
Now this doesn’t mean you should avoid social networks entirely. After all, there are a lot of benefits that social networking can bring to your business, while also giving you the opportunity to build relationships that can bring a great deal of pleasure to you personally. But it is important to think through what you post, in order to be safe, while also presenting your business in the best light possible.
Along that line, here are 9 things you should NEVER post to your social networks:
- Your actual birth date, especially the year. This is open season for identity theft. Yes you need to enter this info to set up an account (US laws require users to be at least 13, which is why they need to know.) But you don’t need to publish it on your profile.
- Where you’re going to be, especially if you’re going to be there by yourself. With the advent of geolocation tools like FourSquare, perhaps I’m a bit outdated with this. But my feeling is that if you’re going to be someone by yourself, or with your kids, you should think twice about posting it while you’re actually there. When I use these tools, I’m pretty choosy about who I’ll actually connect with (I have to know you in person.) I post most locations once I’m leaving if I’m going to publish them to everyone on Facebook or Twitter (or wait to check in until I’m past security in an airport.) I only very rarely post where I’ll be to Facebook or Twitter, which are more public. There are lots of oogy people out there. I choose to err on the side of caution. (Oh, and don’t tell people when your house is going to be empty, too. Burglary, anyone?)
- Your home address and phone number. Now I understand that there are ways people can get this info online, most of the time. But why make it easier for them by putting it on your profile with all your other personal info? You wouldn’t just hand this information to someone you met in a bar, right? Why would you do it online? Safety first!
- Your password. Believe it or not, most people use words in their passwords that they regularly post on their profiles. If you’re going to talk about your kids’ or your pets’ names, don’t use these as passwords. And if your mother still uses her maiden name, and she’s your Facebook friend, I can easily find that too. It makes it SUPER easy for hackers to get into your account. Pick a password that’s completely random that you wouldn’t post on your social networks, to help protect your account.
- Your latest medical concern. In detail. Please believe me when I tell you that, while we care about you, we really don’t want to read all the gory details. Really.
- Inappropriate photos. Seriously, just think before you post. If the photo doesn’t show EVERYONE in a good light, it shouldn’t be posted. And if it’s not appropriate for your company, your customers, your kids, and your momma to see, it doesn’t belong on your social networks.
- Complaints about your company. I’ve said this before, but I’m going to say it again. Stuff lives FOREVER in Google-land. Your company works hard to resolve issues, and they eventually resolve most of them. But complaints live forever when we post them to social networks. If you’ve got an issue, by all means tell your company. But do it through the proper channels, instead of ruining it for everyone.
- Complaints about other consultants. Whether they’re part of your company or another one. We are part of a brotherhood/sisterhood in direct sales. We have a responsibility to watch one another’s backs. And this means that it is COMPLETELY inappropriate to complain about other consultants on your social networks. You make the industry as a whole look bad, not to mention making yourself look unprofessional.
- Politics. Period. My friends, if you are using your social networks for business, politics should NEVER have a place at the table. You WILL offend people with different viewpoints. Why not use your social networks to celebrate, grow, and learn about others? Your political discussions should happen offline. Social networking is about building relationships, not chasing people away because they have a different political agenda.
So that’s my list. What would you add? Share it in the comments below!