Do a quick search of just about anyone and you’ll be bombarded with ads for services that offer all kinds of information, including criminal records, phone numbers, and home addresses. To make matters even worse, you can search just about any social media network and have instant access to the personal views of an individual.
For a professional trying to establish their career, the internet has traps and snares all over the place. We live in a world where it is all too simple to find out what you want to about pretty much anyone.
For these reasons, among others, it is increasingly important that professionals be aware of the common mistakes made on social media to avoid while establishing their careers.
1. Personal, Non-Business Posts on LinkedIn
For anyone familiar with the very professional community of LinkedIn, this is a big no-no.
This network was created for professionals to reach out to other professionals. Posting inspirational quotes, images of your last vacation, or of that “cute cat” is super unprofessional and almost offensive.
Posting anything non-professional on LinkedIn sends off alerts in the minds of others, causing them to be wary of you and ultimately destroying trust and credibility of your professionalism.
Posting relevant items that help others understand your profession is completely acceptable and expected. You can check out this relevant post from Travis Bradberry here.
2. Bad Spelling and/or Grammar
“trust me im profesh and ur in gud handz”
Regardless of the nature of any social media post, a professional who habitually posts with bad spelling and grammar conveys the message that they don’t have a good education.
In turn, this demonstrates to your target audience you’re probably not a very reliable resource. Habitually posting with improper spelling and grammar relays the message and idea that you’re a fraud.
Always double-check your posts, ensure spelling and grammar is correct.
3. Having Unclear Messaging or Objectives
As a professional, your audience expects a purpose behind everything you say.
Before you post anything, answer these questions:
What is the goal of this post?
Is it relevant to my target audience?
Does the wording make me look incompetent (or stupid)?
Whether it’s informational, helpful, or has a call-to-action, always have a purpose behind every post. The goal is to be in the “business” category in the minds of your audience.
If you fail to have purpose with each post then you’ll risk falling into the “social” category. Here is a great article from Forbes about clear social media messaging.
4. Using A Social Media Account for Personal and Business
Unfortunately, the social media landscape is littered with professionals who use their social media for both business and personal reasons. Many people don’t realize how much of an adverse effect their personal views have on their audience.
Most social networks have the ability to separate personal and business profiles. This is very useful, and should be utilized.
As an example, a real estate professional using social media to engage with their market can ruin their career with one or two personal posts about politics or religion. Take advantage of the professional profiles most social networks provide. Heidi Cohen wrote a great article about social media for business versus personal.
5. Only Sharing Content From Your Website
Social media exists to help people be social. Only sharing things from your website says to the audience that your views are the only ones that matter. Recently, Google SEO updates have punished sites that publish articles with only themselves in mind. This is because the mindset of one who only shares their views is perceived as self-serving.
The more value you provide to your audience, the more valuable you become. It doesn’t matter where the value comes from. This is good news, it means you don’t have to be Superman and be the only hero.
Albert Costill of Search Engine Journal states, “You need to have a variety of content that is informative or entertaining for your audience. And the best way to do that is by sharing insightful content from authority figures.”1
6. Posting Confidential Information
This one should be a given. Social media is seen by thousands and practically creates a permanent record.
A professional should be aware that your competition is watching you. For example, in my own business, I have alerts set up for anytime relevant competitors or potential partners post on social media.
Mashable.com posted a great article that includes a section with great points about confidential information. You can check that out here.
7. Making Enemies
We’ve all made a comment or two aimed at putting down one person or another, mentioned someone in a derogatory way, or minimized a set of ideologies at some point in our career.
President Trump, as well as his rival, both made comments that upset one crowd or another. The result was public backlash through social and mainstream media that impacted both campaigns.
While this kind of attention is a given for a presidential candidate, both candidates could have avoided these situations if they had been more mindful of their professional roles.
Don’t put down other groups, ideas, or cultures. This demonstrates a lack of tact and discipline.
Kissmetrics.com put together a great article that discusses this here.
The basic rule of thumb when doing anything online is to remember that you’re a professional and to treat those you are working with as professionals. Recognize that you have value to provide and that your audience has intelligence enough to receive and understand that value.
Also, keep the message relevant. The team over at www.calvinwayman.com teaches a simple recipe they call the “4 Cs to Social Media Success”. These refer to content, context, consistency, and connection. All of these are critical for social media success.
Their blog is loaded with great information about how to manage your social media accounts. Check it out here.
Just keep in mind, if it wouldn’t provide value to you, it won’t provide value to your audience.