OPINION: Watch What You Post...
You Never Know Who's Looking

OPINION: Watch What You Post... You Never Know Who's Looking

Written by Soul Witness
🕒 May 25, 2020

Social media is GREAT….until it’s not.

While social media is a great place to connect with friends and family, and even get story ideas, it’s a double-edged sword. There are so many platforms now a days, meaning there are so many ways someone can ruin their reputation or credibility. All it takes is a screen shot.

I speak to classes ranging from elementary to the collegiate level. More often that not, social media is brought up. It’s not a surprise that most of the students have it, and use it on a regular basis.

I often ask what they use it for, what they look at while they’re on it, who they follow, their favorite platform, and so on.

The younger the students, the more popular the “newest” platforms are. For example: Teens choose TikTok, while high school and college students prefer Instagram.

I let them go on and on about what they post, and who they follow…

Then I tell them that their future bosses are looking at social media too….including theirs.

It never fails, they all have an expression of shock and/or horror come across their faces.

Then, I tell them some of the “secrets” from someone who is involved in the hiring process. Yes, I WILL check your social media. You may think you have it “private” and “secure?” Nope. I’ll find you.

Granted, I may be a bit old school, but I’ve hired and worked with a lot of people in my day, and, lately, it seems like social media etiquette is nonexistent. So, here are some tips to keep your social media clean and make sure one post doesn’t get you passed over for the next step in your career.

If you want to be a journalist, and be seen as a professional, then keep your posts professional.

Seems like a no-brainer, right? You’d be surprised.

Picture this: You have a professional account, and you use it for work. You keep your stories updated, and you have a lot of people who follow you to get the news, to learn what’s going on, to get updates about… the news…because you’re a journalist.

Well, fast forward to after a long shift covering a murder, a house fire, some sort of tragedy. Your stories go from that to you drinking, then obviously tipsy, then posting about what a bad hangover you have.

Okay, journalists are human, but, in your followers’ eyes, you just lost all your credibility in a few 15 to 20 second stories.

So again, if you use a public account for work, keep it all work related. No one said you can’t have a private account for your closest friends and family to show you having some drinks. Just keep those separated, because you never know who is watching.

This may be an unpopular opinion but…

To me, TikTok is just a way to show the world how self-centered you are, and show off your mediocre dance moves while dressed in basically nothing.

This statement applies to men and women. I’m looking at it from the professional/career-based perspective. Again, yes, I may be old school.

Some may call me a prude, or even say I’m not about body empowerment or self-confidence, or that I follow gender stereotypes. None of that is true.

But something that is true, that I’ve seen firsthand, is your few seconds of shimmying and twerking on social media could cost you a position at your dream station. PEOPLE 👏🏽 ARE 👏🏽 WATCHING. Yes, even your future employers, recruiters, and/or head hunters.

Let me ask you this question: If you really want to become a journalist who is well respected in their field, would you rather be social media famous for a few minutes, or the best at what you do so others look up to you for your work ethic and the work you produce for years to come?

Another question: Do you want to be a journalist or an influencer?

There is no judgment from my end on how you answer those questions, but it may be helpful to come back to them each time you are about to post something.

Now, if you manage a station’s or company’s social media pages, you do need to have manners. Yes, capitalization, and punctuation, are still important when responding to comments or direct messages. Granted, you may be dealing with a lot of hate, or people who will never change their mind (aren’t we all), but you are also representing an entire company. So it’s important to keep that in mind.

The main takeaways that I hope my students learn are these:

          • Be nice, be courteous, have manners. In person and online.
          • Social media can cost you more than you may realize. Use it wisely.
          • If you hesitate when posting something, or have a little voice telling you, “‘Eh, this may not be a good thing to make public,” LISTEN TO IT and DO NOT POST.
          • Your credibility you worked so hard to establish can be ruined in an instant. It only takes a few milliseconds to take a screenshot.
          • If you want to be seen as a professional, be professional. Yes, it’s hard work but worth it in the long run.
          • If you need help with managing your social media pages, or a company’s social media page, ask for help! Get your posts approved. Get a second or third set of eyes to look over it. It’s better to catch a mistake in-house than possibly go viral for the wrong reasons.

For more on how to build a social media following click here.

Listen, I’m not trying to come across as the social media police, but I HAVE seen these scenarios play out with my own eyes. Take it from me, hitting “delete” instead of “post” can save you a lot of grief and regret. Best wishes to all of you in your careers.

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