Social media is now a major part of many people’s lives. For example, when someone goes to a new restaurant, he or she may post a status update on Facebook telling of his or her plans. They may send out a Tweet on the way while travelling in the passenger’s seat, on the train, or in a taxi.
When they arrive, he or she may check in on Foursquare, and when the food comes out, they might take a picture of the plate and post to Instagram or Pinterest.
Then, after returning home, he or she may write a blog post or record a video food review to post to YouTube.
And that is just one night’s activities.
The example above references a lot of activity on several different social media platforms. While it may seem like an exaggeration, it is anything but. People are very connected to their mobile devices and other online technology that allows them to share ideas and experiences with others. Of course, not all posts to social media are as innocent as eating a meal at a new restaurant. And, if we have a few drinks during dinner, or have had a rough day, all of those posts could have a much different tone that could be regretful after the fact.
Sometimes we say things that are insensitive or use words that we don’t really mean. Today, it is also possible to use the wrong account and post personal anecdotes on a business Twitter feed or Facebook profile without realizing it. No matter what mistake was made or why, even if you delete the post there are ways of finding it. And if someone wants to harm you or your business, they will do everything they can to track your social media footprints and uncover the things they need to hurt you.
That is why it is very important to think before posting anything online. You may think something is funny or interesting, or that it is a personal thought or feeling that shouldn’t reflect on your professional life. However, understand once something is posted to a social media account and shared with the world, there is no way to completely erase it. Plenty of people have lost jobs by making ill-advised posts on social media.
Many people post to social media sites regularly and tell the world a lot about themselves in the process. While we have already discussed the potential harm social media accounts can cause you, there are ways they can help depending on your situation.
For instance, if you are interviewing a new potential hire, searching their online profiles will often give you a good idea about their personality – both good and bad. The information you find on social media can help you make the right decision about whether or not to offer them the job.
Also, when looking for evidence for trials or when preparing witnesses, the information on social media can help lawyers. Those considering a business merger or acquiring another company, or that may need a corporate investigation can learn a great deal about the organization through social media analysis. There are plenty of ways people find useful social information in their careers – which is why you should know what your footprint looks like.
With the many ways people access our online information, and the ways they use it, it is vital to understand what others can see in your social media footprint. Have a professional social media analysis conducted for your personal and business accounts to see what information could hurt you.