In my little corner of the world, my social media is read mostly by teens, young adults or their parents. I have worked in ministry for over fourteen years and have had Facebook for almost the same amount of time. As such, my Facebook page has been squeaky clean from the start. To set an example for the young people, I made sure that my posts were appropriate, verified and inspiring. Although I did this, I did not realize the impact a social media page could have.
I applied to a Christian long-term care facility to cover a maternity leave and was given an interview, which led to two follow-up interviews. A few weeks after I was hired, I found out that they had scoured my social media platforms. I did realize this scrutiny could happen with young people but was surprised that they would check that intense for me. It gave me a great opportunity to share this information on how thoroughly I was investigated as I mentored young people about the benefits and the downfalls of social media and how it can impact their lives years after a post.
There are the usual risks within social media– bullying, falsehoods, misleading advertisements or recommendations or being hacked so that criminals could use our information. There is a tendency to share too much personal information in postings and will be problematic if used by hackers, who can utilize the data obtained to injure ourselves as well as our organizations. There is also the risk of being addicted to social media. In today’s world, a cell phone with all our applications and social media profiles is within our grasp for many hours a day. The draw to check one’s social media, to see who is trending or who is following us is a great temptation. One keeps looking for that comment that will make their day or how many likes they have gotten so far. You need only to look at a supper table (at home or in a restaurant) to see how many of us are checking our phones. For more information on this, check https://www.ionos.ca/digitalguide/online-marketing/social-media/social-networks-dangers-of-social-media/ .
When a person starts using social media without checking the aspects of it and the best way to use it, can create a nightmare in itself. I read where one elderly woman thought that LOL meant lots of love and kept responding LOL to an obituary – a simple example that was horrifying to the family until she explained it. Making sure that we are familiar with the terminology, before we put it into practise, is the key.
Due to the ease of an immediate response, we can respond with a knee jerk reaction to an unfavourable comment that we later regret and cannot retract. Those types of comments can haunt us forever and organizations need to reduce their risk factors to maintain their integrity and client base. The first effective step is to create a social media style guide. This will establish continuity throughout the organization. It will make sure that there is consistency with language, integrity, thought processes and content. The intention of the organization will be appropriate across the board with all staff because of these guidelines. Organizations would also require an overseer to ensure that the guidelines are being adhered to. With no supervision of the content, their reputation will be on the line.
I have been speaking as a single person on this, who is part of a larger organization. Although we are separate entities, our paths cross. I would not be a part of this organization if I did not share their integrity, their ideals and beliefs. It is a fine line to draw between the personal and professional aspects of our lives. Some individuals have created two profiles to keep the personal and professional parts separate. Reviewing our privacy settings on our personal profiles will help to keep the two apart. Using two separate names on the accounts will help as a username does not have to be our actual name. Having said that, whatever we post on our personal pages will, purposefully or not, reflect on our organizations and we must keep that thought in mind when we decide to post. The best solution is, once we start using all types of social media, that we keep abreast of the improvements made on all platforms and keep all information current and relevant, for ourselves and our organizations and to be mindful of what we post. Good intentions may not cut it…. in the words of the great and wise philospher, Yoda, “Do or do not, there is no try.”