Unless you live under a rock in Pittsburgh, you have heard that Wendy Bell, an award-winning journalist with WTAE-TV for 18 years, was fired Wednesday for comments she made on her Facebook page. The post, which I am not going into at all, has since been removed, but unfortunately the damage is already done.
I see people posting dumb stuff on social media CONSTANTLY. I am one of them, but I tend to keep my opinions to myself. Social media gives everyone a soapbox. And I completely support this, but I know the rules. Even if they’re unsaid. There are rules.
I worked at a newspaper for 10 years. I started before social media was used in the industry. Even then there were SO many guidelines. When social media came along and the paper decided to use it, I think they were even a bit scared that they didn’t know what they were getting into. Because one little slip can be dangerous. Look at US Airways. Their tweet was definitely not safe for work. In a different ballpark, but just as unfavorable, was McDonald’s hashtag #RonaldMcDonald. I don’t know a lot of people that like clowns, so I get it. They should’ve thought that one through. Side note, good work, Heather Oldani. She snatched up the Twitter handle @RonaldMcDonald in 2009. I can only hope she gets some money for that. And what about when LG, whose smartphones are naturally curved, poked fun at the bendy iPhone 6? Good idea, except they sent the tweet from an iPhone.
You get the point. Nobody wants to make this mistake. So, let’s go over some basic questions to ask yourself before you post anything online.
Is this post valuable to my customers?
Social media provides companies with a marketing tool that wasn’t always available. That doesn’t mean it should be taken advantage of. Consumers don’t want to be bombarded with sales pitches over and over again. They look at you as the expert. Provide them valuable information.
Is my post shareable and likeable?
What do you do when you see something you like, think is funny, find interesting or important online? You share it. Companies need to think with that mentality when posting to social media. Customers don’t like a bore and will quickly hit the unfollow button.
Is my post offensive?
Whether it’s comments about news events, long-held beliefs or a bad joke, an employee’s offensive post can damage a company’s image. If not handled properly, racist, homophobic or sexist comments put an employer at risk for lawsuits and losing customers.
Is my post relevant?
Again, your customers follow you for a reason. I don’t visit US Weekly’s Facebook page hoping to read about car insurance. It’s as simple as that.
Am I posting at the best time?
Companies need to be aware of what is going on in the world. You do not want to be posting something promotional while everyone else on social media is reacting to a national tragedy.
If you are still unsure if you should post something, you probably shouldn’t. Double check with a coworker or simply hit delete. It will cause a lot less stress in the long run.