Social media is a mine field for your personal reputation. It can destroy businesses and it can even lead to serious legal problems. Posting impulsively on social media can cause a lot of damage. Anything you post on your personal and business social media feeds should be carefully considered.
The first thing you have to understand is that nothing you ever post online is truly private. Turn on as many privacy settings as you like, but things can and do leak, with 936 million users on Facebook.
So what are the risks of posting without thinking on social media?
Embarrassment and Humiliation
Believe it or not, this is at the lower end of the scale of what can happen if you post impulsively on social media. Most people have said something stupid that has caused them embarrassment. The difference is in the real world people tend to forget about it.
On Facebook, all it takes is a single screenshot and it's immortalized for years to come. People will be able to constantly remind you of that mistake you made.
It Could Get You Fired
There's a reason why companies have comprehensive social media policies. If you post something extreme or offensive that could compromise the company's brand and they have the right to fire you.
Customers are more interested in the inner workings of the companies they buy from than ever before. They are determined to make sure that they are only dealing with the right people. An employee posting something horrific could lead to them moving to a competitor.
CEOs are well aware of this, and so they demand that their employees are held to a high standard, or else they will fire you.
Losing a Legal Case
If you are currently plagued in a legal case, you may want to consider whether you should post or not on Facebook. Whatever you post can compromise your legal position. In the event that you are currently involved in legal proceedings, the private law firm Jaroslawicz & Jaros says that it's better not to post at all.
Even the most harmless of status updates could find its way into court, and it could cause your entire case to go against you.
There have been situations all over the world where people have fallen foul of the law because of something they posted. For example, posting an update of your case could lead to you receiving a charge for contempt of court. You could even accidentally admit to something and that could lead to you receiving a huge fine, or even jail time.
So How Can You Avoid Posting Impulsively on Social Media?
To begin with, you should use the privacy settings available to you. Yes, it's true that nothing is truly private, but you can avoid the worst of it by using your privacy settings to your advantage. Turn them up to the maximum so only the people you are actually connected with can view your newsfeed.
Another method you can use to avoid posting anything impulsively on social media is to use automation software. Companies tend to use it in order to schedule social media posts in advance, but it also allows you some time to think about your status updates prior to them going public.
This extra time can be all that's required to stop you posting something that you're going to regret.
Finally, make sure that you never post when you are in an emotionally negative space. For example, if you have had a bad day you should stay away from social media. If you are intoxicated, make sure you avoid posting any social media updates. Most embarrassing updates happen by accident not because they were intentional.
What Should You Do if You Have Made a Mistake?
It may be the case that you're reading this after already committing a mistake. Your best option here is damage control. For a start, go out of your way to delete the offending status and hope nobody has taken a screenshot of it.
Secondly, don't just pretend it never happened. Make a public apology to anyone you may have offended. If the status was directed towards a specific individual, send them a private message apologizing for your actions. They may not forgive you, but at least you made the effort.
Remember that you may very well have to accept the consequences of your actions. But take it as a learning experience and attempt to do better in the future.