9 Things You Should Never Post to Your Social Networks

As we get more and more comfortable with social networking, people tend to share more and more information about themselves.  After all, these are your friends, right?  You can tell them anything.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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 With the advent of geolocation tools like FourSquare, perhaps I’m a bit outdated with this.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?)
  3. 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!
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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!

28 Responses to 9 Things You Should Never Post to Your Social Networks
  1. Denise Snow
    April 16, 2013 | 11:34 pm

    I couldn’t agree more! Great tips for safety. I think many need to think before posting. There are topics that should not be discussed on Facebook such as politics and religion. Facebook used to be a happy place and now in many cases is a place to air out your dirty laundry and fill with complaints. I recently have blocked people who are constantly posting on getting drunk, their hangover and how they cant wait for their next drink! Talk about unprofessional (these people were not in their 20’s either) I also agree that we do not need a daily progress report, in detail, of your bad cold or flu. I blocked someone for that too. Next are those constantly posting about politics. No complaints and fights with others. It seems some want to round up their Facebook friends to side with them. If you have a complaint about a company- call them in person! You will get much further by being nice and working towards a resolution fair to both parties than complaining on Facebook. Many things on Facebook, just like texting can be taken wrong since we are not able to see or hear others. Lets keep Facebook a happy place and safe place!

  2. Melanie
    April 13, 2013 | 4:13 pm

    Just a thought – I would also add not posting about religious beliefs. I understand how strong one’s conviction can be for his or her chosen higher power. However, not everyone believes in the same higher power, and many do not have a specific religion to which they belong at all. If faith and conviction in a particular religion are strong, it should be evident in how the membership conducts themselves. Scriptural quotes and religious images may be intended to inspire others, but this can become a source of contention for those who do not share the same beliefs and religious affiliation.

  3. Deb Bixler
    April 12, 2013 | 10:38 am

    The phone number and address are important for businesses to show that they are available. Get an online phone number via vonage or other VOI. It is affordable and can be forwarded into any other phone. In addition, when you move it is just forwarded to the new number so it is not required to go all over the internet to change.
    Deb Bixler recently posted..Choose Your Words Carefully = Direct Sales Success

  4. Bernice Wood
    June 7, 2010 | 1:07 pm

    This is a great post, let me tell a funny story that happened to me this past year. I always had entered my birthday as Jan 1, 1965 (correct year, not date) as I always had a problem with putting that info out there. I was just getting into facebook toward the end of last year, and on Dec 29, one of my good friends mentioned something about me having a birthday in 2 days. Now mnd you, my actual birthday is in September and I could not figure out why she thought my birthday was Jan 1st! So I asked her, and she said “I saw it on facebook!” I went to change it, alas, it was too late at that point as all my friends were wishing me a Happy Birthday! The moral of the story is, if you are going to use a “fake” date, make sure YOU remember when your birthday is!

  5. Carrie Bezusko
    June 4, 2010 | 6:13 pm

    Thanks for sharing this great – and timely – info, Jennifer. I will be sure to pass this article on to those I know who are just getting into social media. (I myself, as a Facebook veteran, have broken only one of these “rules,” but I’m gonna go change that right now!)

  6. Scentsy Katie Jones
    May 25, 2010 | 4:39 am

    I haven’t always been cautious about my whereabouts on Facebook, because it was between me and “my friends.” I have also shared my birthday, so thank you for setting me straight.

  7. Pam Leveritt
    May 24, 2010 | 11:10 pm

    Thanks Jennifer for the great info ! very helpful..
    Pam.

  8. Margo
    May 24, 2010 | 4:52 pm

    Great post! I would like to add: Farmville, Mafia Wars, etc. Some days I feel like there are more statuses about people “upping a level” in one of these games than there is *actual* information about my friends! Your potential clients (and your personal friends, for that matter) don’t need to know that you were up at 2am “icing” Louie the Lip in Mafia Wars. TMI!

  9. clare
    May 24, 2010 | 4:29 pm

    I’m also not a big fan of the “friends of friends” feature. I want to pick my friends and share with them — I don’t really trust all of my friends with my information. If your friend wants to see my information, then he/she should request my friendship — I don’t share it just because he/she is friends with you.

  10. clare
    May 24, 2010 | 4:25 pm

    I’ve seen a lot of people who only post their birth date (without the year) — but then they post their highschool (or college) graduating year. Guess what, if you say your birthday is May 15th and you graduated in the Class of 1990 — I’m going to be able to figure out the YEAR (maybe it will take 2 guesses!)

  11. Mickey Gomez
    May 24, 2010 | 4:15 pm

    Thanks, Jennifer, for an EXCELLENT and very timely post! We just had a similar discussion about this last week here in our community.

    I agree that if the sole purpose of your social media presence is your business, it’s a bad idea to post anything that can be construed as partisan politics. I’ll add that I think folks should be careful about posts related to religion, too, especially posts that reflect negatively on any specific religion. I’m all for a good discussion but there is a time and a place, and all too often it’s easy enough, even in personal feeds, to misread tone and meaning.

    If your social media presence is primarily personal, I agree – post whatever you like. It’s important, though, to remember that you’re not speaking into a vacuum.

    I’m so glad that you’re encouraging folks to be more careful with their personal information, especially travel plans and birth dates, etc. I’ve always been wary of posting those, and while it may be fairly easy to people to find a lot of this information you are so right – why make it easy for them?

    Bonus points for use of the word “oogy”, by the way. 😉

    • Jennifer Fong
      May 24, 2010 | 4:23 pm

      Thanks so much for your comments Mickey! I appreciate them and YOU!

      And shouldn’t we all use the word “oogy” more? I think it’s a word that just doesn’t get enough face time! 😉

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

  12. AmberG_CMC
    May 24, 2010 | 3:40 pm

    my husband is a very successful travelling salesman – works for a company that his dad started more than 30 years ago and his dad gave him MANY great pieces of advice when he was getting started and one of them was, “Don’t ever put a political bumper sticker on your car” His clients could see it and form an opinion (good or bad) about Kory or his company, politics, religious beliefs, and even morals just based on one bumper sticker. Totally not worth it. There is a time and a place for everything – and in the sales relationship is neither the time nor the place for politics. Unless you want to sell to only one very small segment of the market: everyone who totally agrees with YOU!

  13. Lisa Collin
    May 24, 2010 | 3:34 pm

    In reference to #2 (and this goes for ANYONE, regardless if you are a direct seller): NEVER, under ANY CIRCUMSTANCE, mention that you are out of town!

    If you have earned your company’s incentive trip, post your comments and pictures upon your return. I know this is difficult, but mentioning that you (and your hubby/family) are gone is akin to saying, “Hey you burglars out there! Come to my home…no one is home! Take anything you want.”

    I can’t get over how many times I see posts indicating the number of days until the family leaves for a trip. Protect your home! Post when you return.

    Thanks for the great reminders, Jennifer!

  14. Cathi Rickly
    May 24, 2010 | 3:24 pm

    It’s a good practice NOT to post your current mood towards your spouse, significant other on the same page you advertise your business. No one wants to click on a link to do business with you if you just slammed your relationship/spouse into the ground with anger. Only posting this because I saw it recently on someone’s page that I know & I couldn’t believe it. Have to show her how to make a business group page on facebook!
    Thanks for your blog & postings! I really enjoy them! 🙂

  15. jessiex
    May 24, 2010 | 2:58 pm

    overall, i like your post

    yet

    so what if i offend someone with a statement about “politics.” who says social media is the land of the bland? now, i get — and believe fully — that i need to own my perspective, my thinking and my stance. and, personally, i don’t find it good form to slam a politician, per se, (not that i can promise into the future that i never will), but really, missy, i think you’d do better to OWN your adamancy as your own commitment to yourself rather than as direction for others. i get that YOU don’t want to talk politics, but many do.

    even more so, i offer that politics and thinking are connected. i may not be much of one for Dems or Republicans and that sort of talk. but i am one for stating what i find important. i may not, perhaps, speak of stem cell research, but that’s because i don’t follow “news” so much and the politics in and around it. but i sure will take a stance that i think, for example, overweight people should be charged more for health insurance. they cost the system more because of choices they’ve made. just like smokers get charged more for car insurance because their choices increase the possibility of an accident.

    that’s political and likely to offend.

    so what.

    my two cents.

    • Jennifer Fong
      May 24, 2010 | 3:10 pm

      Thanks for chiming in. I’m afraid we will have to agree to disagree. You see, when you’re in a direct sales business, it’s no longer just about you. Potential clients and recruits are looking at what you do and say as representative of your entire company, and all its consultants. So something that you say and feel (or “own” as you put it) could be very different from what someone else in your company thinks. Yet the potential recruit may disagree with your strongly, and not realize that the person that has been working with them does not agree with you. They may decide not to join because of your words.

      If you’re only using social media for personal use, spout away on any topic you believe in. But if you’re using it for business, there is a level of responsibility that goes beyond just you. It’s now about every consultant in your company, as well as the company itself.

      • Cindy Taylor
        May 24, 2010 | 3:24 pm

        I have to agree with Jennifer on this one…again, if you have any kind of business, talking about anything polarizing, whether in person or online can be counterproductive…I find even with friends I can end up in a debate over politics, so do I really want to do that with potential customers? Or would I rather spend my time building positive relationships with them? I think the latter is more productive.

    • Diana Pardee
      April 12, 2013 | 12:22 pm

      I have to also chime in on this topic. I know Jennifer is probably right, however since most of the country are involved in some kind of business endeavor or organization where their opinions might offend someone they might associate with, it is not just direct sales distributors who may feel the need to be inauthentic or bland about their views.

      I don’t like to be bombarded by negative views, or those at polar opposite to mine, but I do like to know & share honest discussion & viewpoints, be informed of activitism opportunities or agendas I am concerned about. I think this approach of avoiding revealing anything controversial is leading us to become a nation afraid to be honest, more concerned about what someone will think or whether they will do business with us. We are creating a hidden agenda, which I believe interferes with true, long-term attraction & team building.

      In my 30 years in the industry, I have had people tell me they would not do business with me for a variety of reasons and I accept their choice. One of the things I love about network marketing is that we have a choice to do business with people we like & respect. Even if they don’t post controversial information on social media, I will eventually discover who they are and what they think, and they will get some impression of me and my values. The sooner, the better I say…before I invest my time & money in working with them on my team.

      If we are intelligent, thinking people, we will accept that we can agree to disagree & still support each other in our businesses. If not…what have I lost by being authentic, passionate & committed to doing & saying what I believe to be important, as long as I also respect their right to their own values & opinions?

      I have many business associates with wildly divergent political & religious opinions. They didn’t discover this via social media, but as our working relationship developed. Perhaps they would have avoided me if they knew my views before they knew me, and perhaps that is a point well taken for not spreading too much detail via social media. However, I also have distributors who would have lost respect for me if I hadn’t expressed my passion for the environment, equality & progressive action by not commenting or sharing what I believe in.

      In conclusion (I know this is way too long!), it seems to be a double edged sword, but one we need to contemplate so we don’t become a nation of bland, robotic yes-sirs, oblivious to the reality around us, but making neutral impression on almost everyone.

      My strategy has been to avoid these kinds of issues on my business page, but interact with some discretion on my personal page. Still…sometimes I feel frustrated by the constraints & cautions about the dangers of being myself ;>}

      Thanks for all your very pragmatic & helpful articles, Jennifer!
      Diana

  16. Jennifer
    May 24, 2010 | 2:53 pm

    To add to point 7 and 8, I think complaints in general need to be kept to a minimum. I personally get tired of reading the status updates of others who are constantly complaining, and seem to offer very little that is positive.

    • Jennifer Fong
      May 24, 2010 | 2:57 pm

      I wholeheartedly agree Jennifer!

  17. Desiree
    May 24, 2010 | 2:39 pm

    I would also like to add never post where your kids go to school or daycare. I just think this is a bad idea!

    • Jennifer Fong
      May 24, 2010 | 2:40 pm

      VERY good point Desiree!

    • Shannon
      April 12, 2013 | 3:13 pm

      Totally agree and I’d like to add that it bothers me to see people who use their child’s picture as their profile pictures. IMHO, what a way for a pedophile to easily target your child!

  18. Karen Fox
    May 24, 2010 | 11:01 am

    Great Post and good reminders for all…

  19. Jill Shea
    May 24, 2010 | 10:56 am

    Excellent reminders Jennifer. Thanks so much!!!
    Jill Shea

  20. Pamela Fatone
    May 24, 2010 | 10:15 am

    OMG I am so happy you started with our birthdays, I can not believe that people are not aware of how dangerous it can be giving out this information, even for all those WIN for FREE Apple laptop, (that I think are bogus) that I see people vying for, Ummmm NO they are just collecting your info. Sorry for my rant.
    Another GREAT informative article Jennifer.

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