Don’t be Dumb on Social Media!

Apr 24, 2012   //   by Raylene   //   Blog, Social Media for Business  //  3 Comments

dumbBeing ‘dumb’ on social media can take many forms. Like posting inappropriate updates or photos, posting too frequently, or checking in at every stop on your way to everywhere.  That is by no means an exhaustive list, either, I assure you! It’s almost frightening what some people think is OK to share on social media (or perhaps, what they did NOT think about before sharing it on social media).

My #1 rule for social media use is “Don’t embarrass yourself or your organization with your social media use.” I say it in every single one of my training sessions.  It seems pretty basic, but it’s always worth repeating. Social media might be connecting people TOO much. If you are a professional, representing a business (yours or someone else’s), tweets including details of bathroom breaks, and Facebook updates highlighting late night drunken escapades are examples of dumb social media behaviour.  Having a disclaimer to the effect of “Tweets do not reflect the opinion or position of my employer or business” likely isn’t enough to minimize the impact such inappropriate posting may have on your organization. As I have mentioned before in suggestions for businesses and bloggers, if you don’t want your grandma or your boss to see what you’re saying or doing, don’t share it on a social network.

foursquareAnother area in which I must stress caution is geo-tagging and physical location check-ins on social media venues (like Foursquare, and even Facebook and Twitter) where you are showing people online where you are in the real world at that moment. The U.S. Military has recently stated that Geotagging poses security risks.

“Is a badge on Foursquare worth your life?”

The question was posed by Brittany Brown, social media manager of the Online and Social Media Division at the Office of the Chief of Public Affairs. It may sound outlandish, but in the age of social geotagging, it can be a reality….

If a Soldier uploads a photo taken on his or her smartphone to Facebook, they could broadcast the exact location of their unit, said Steve Warren, deputy G2 for the Maneuver Center of Excellence, or MCoE.

“Today, in pretty much every single smartphone, there is built-in GPS,” Warren said. “For every picture you take with that phone, it will automatically embed the latitude and longitude within the photograph.”

Someone with the right software and the wrong motivation could download the photo and extract the coordinates from the metadata.

And it’s not just a concern for the military. If a person is checking in to their gym every day, to the grocery store where they shop, to the school where they pick up their kids, and the restaurant they go to with their great-aunt every Tuesday for lunch, any body REALLY watching could easily find patterns and possibly intercept that person at one of those locations, for good or, more likely, for bad.

More than that, it’s not hard to imagine that it’s you checking in on FourSquare or Facebook.  It’s entirely possible that someone, again with “the wrong motivation”, might be planning to be in a place other than where you’ve checked in, say at your home when you’re at the gym.

Maybe this sounds funny coming from a Social Media Manager. I’m not promoting paranoia or conspiracy theories or that kind of thing. I AM saying that we need to be careful how we’re using geotagging and geolocation apps online and in social media. We need to be smart about what kind of information we’re putting out for public viewing. Not everybody is looking at your information with innocent eyes and motives.

With that in mind, as a social media manager, I’m saying that we don’t need to go ‘all out’ with social networks for them to be effective, useful, and even fun.  We can do a lot on Facebook, Twitter, etc., without putting unsafe or inappropriate information in public view.  I’m advocating for the safe and ethical use of social media for people to connect with each other and with the businesses and organizations that they care about and are possibly interested in doing business with.

And it all boils down to this statement: Don’t be dumb with what you’re sharing on social media!

Check out this interesting video I recently found about how the things we do on social media look if they are done in real life. I think it might give you a different perspective on what you’re sharing and the other things you are doing online. Let me know what you think – about the video, and about being dumb on social media. 🙂

if you can’t see this video, click the following link: Can I be Your Friend?
or visit my YouTube “Something to Think About” playlist.


  • Great post about prudent geo-tagging in SM venues. Think smart not scared. Better to post “just back from best vacay ever” than ” so excited to be gone for next two weeks” eh?

    • Yes, that’s exactly it – be smart, not paranoid! Thanks for stopping by Nancy!!

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