What do all of these have in common?…
Yes, these are all Tweets.
The other common thread is that all of these people were fired immediately over their tweets.
This is nothing new.
Unless you’ve been hiding under your bed for these last few years, you’ve heard of people being fired for their social media posts.
These social posts are usually really over the top and call for some kind of response from the organization. The firings are justified, in my opinion.
But I got into a lengthy conversation with a 19-year-old recently who was stuck on this notion that companies who fire employees for their social media behavior are overstepping their boundaries and that employees should have the freedom to say what they want on social media without fear of consequence.
I totally understand her perspective.
Heck, I thought the exact same thing just a few years ago when I was an undergraduate in college.
“If I put ‘Tweets are my own’ in my Twitter bio, it’s clear that these are my opinions and not the organization I work for!”
“My social media is MINE. I can say whatever the hell I want.”
I thought I had it all figured out – silly 20-year-old me.
But that’s changed quickly.
Here’s what I’ve realized through my 10+ years using social media, my thousands of hours teaching business owners how to use social media for their organizational benefit, the trainings I’ve done with businesses on internal social media usage, and the countless mindless social media posts I scroll through daily:
Your social media accounts are not just yours.
Whether you like it or not.
What you post, what you say, what you comment, what you share, what you ‘like’, what you RT, what you double tap – it’s not just yours.
It’s a reflection of who you associate with and who you’re employed by.
Plain & simple.
If you’re still stuck on the mindset that your social media posts are yours, that’s fine.
But don’t be surprised when your employer, manager or a higher-up calls you out for something dumb you published. Don’t be surprised when that comes back to bite you a few months or years down the road when you try to advance to a higher platform in life.
It’s fascinating to me how many well-educated people portray themselves poorly on social media.
Pictures of them smoking weed, videos of them blacking out a club, tweets of their racist thoughts, Vines of their offensive jokes, Snaps of them being belligerent…
Now let me be clear – I’m not being hypocritical. I was one of these people. I was THAT guy.
If you followed me on social media back in 2010, you would have seen a completely different person.
Pictures and posts me me acting a fool – A FOOL.
But I learned that if I truly wanted to be someone else in the future, if I really wanted people to believe I was who I said I was, I would have to monitor & take my social media behavior seriously.
And I would have to do it now.
I would have to act on social media how I wanted to be perceived in real life.
And let me be double clear here – it’s not just the young people who are acting out of line on social media at times.
People assume that mindless social media behavior is reserved for the youth…nuh-uh.
I’ve seen well-established professionals behave in extremely poor taste on social media. Just posting ignorant, mindless stuff. Literally, no filter.
Heck, just look at former major league pitcher Curt Schilling as one of countless examples (he was swiftly fired from ESPN for this, by the way).
I could go on for days about the poor things I see published that will eventually come back to bite someone, but the bottom line here is this:
You are in social media as much as you are in real life.
They are not two different worlds.
They integrate with each other seamlessly and how you behave online is as true a representative of you as you are in the flesh.
Get the thought out of your mind that simply because you created a private Instagram page, private Twitter account, private Musically page, private Vine account, or whatever you’re on, that you’re entitled to say whatever you want on there with no consequence.
You need to hold yourself accountable for your online actions and behaviors. Don’t wait for an organization, manager or higher-up to tell you to shape up. Many organizations are still behind the times when setting expectations for their employees’ social media behaviors, but it should not reach this point.
Let me be triple clear and transparent with you here: I’m not saying all this to be a party-pooper. I’m not saying this to rain on your parade or throw shade where it’s not welcome.
I’m not coming from a high-horse. I’ve made tons of mistakes in my social media behavior.
I’m advising you this for your own future benefit. I enjoy a good laugh at dumb social posts as much as any other person.
BUT … if you want to be a professional in the future, if you have ambitions for a bigger platform, if you have a desire to be a public authority down the road, you need to take accountability & responsibility for your online behavior.
A good rule of thumb is that if you wouldn’t say it around your mom, you shouldn’t post it on social media.