I couldn’t believe it. Showing on my Facebook page were accusations about my sister from her daughter-in-law. At first, I thought there must be some mistake. Not only was the information untrue, but it was also degrading and the language uncalled-for.
My first reaction was to defend my sister. She didn’t deserve to be treated this way. My second thought probably saved my Facebook image and my freelance writing company.
Instead of adding fuel to the fire and linking my name to the garbage, I decided to ignore the situation. After a few days and more ugliness, I realized the negativity was harming my creativeness, and my outlook. I unfriended my sister’s daughter-in-law, and no longer could see her posts on my page.
This minor action kept me from wanting to pounce on anyone, for I couldn’t see what was being written. Plus, it let my pages stay more professional.
Did I do the right thing? I think so. Within days, the mudslinging had been posted and reposted with different information by people from New York to North Carolina. People who didn’t even know those involved were adding comments based on social media.
I almost made a common social media mistake that can kill a freelance writing career.
Social Media Never Dies
Social media can be the creator or killer of your freelance writing business. And it’s not just what you write, but what others write about you — even if it’s not true.
Even scarier, you can’t put a social media skeleton back into the closet. Once unleashed to the Internet, it’s there forever. It doesn’t matter if the post is business, personal, or just a comment.
The great thing about social media is you can post something grand and others can repost, making it go viral. Awesome if that viral gets you clients, puts you in a positive light, and helps your writing company.
Not so great if the viral post makes you lose clients and integrity, and puts you in a bad light to your audience.
Take the time to look at your Facebook account and note who is posting to your wall and what feeds you can see. Unfortunately, people like to grab the negative and pass along a story without all the information, and they love changing graphics to fit their amusements. When you comment, like a post or to add your own information, millions of potential people can see it, pass it along, and slant it to their needs.
Don’t Forget Those Pictures and Videos
It’s not just words that can damage your professional reputation, but images and videos as well. Did you take a picture in a negative situation? You know, the one you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see. (Or that video of you and your friends where no one had their brains turned on.) You probably don’t want your clients to see it either.
Creating the Right Social Media Persona for Your Company
Answering these five questions will help you create the right voice and persona for your social media image:
- Who is your audience?
- How do you want to be seen by your audience?
- What is your attitude?
- What type of language do you use to communicate?
- What type of image are you creating?
Look at your audience. Who are they? What is their age, sex, economic status, job, belief system, etcetera? You need to know whom you are talking to. By knowing your audience, not only can you connect with them, but you can learn what makes them tick. You become a trusted source.
How do you want your audience to view you? Are you the expert, the kid next door, or the grandparent figure? Does your audience search you out for advice, entertainment, or… ?
What attitude do you carry? Are you the straight-from-the-hip shooter? Or do you sugarcoat everything?
What verbiage and language do you use to communicate? Your language connects you to your reader. If the reader feels they are being talked down to, or your posts are too simple, you’ll lose them.
Be Who You Are
If your goal is to be the rude, crude, and outspoken company then go ahead and be that way. But beware — your audience is going to expect that attitude all the time. If you get soft or waiver on your message, you could lose your audience and clients.
If your persona is the neighbor next door, be that helpful neighbor.
Remember your social media persona is how you or your company is perceived online.
Protecting Your Business Social Media from Your Personal Life
Do you need to protect your business from yourself because of your actions? If so, you may want to alter your social media image or clean up your personal life.
Are you protecting your privacy from your business world? Many people choose to keep their personal social media separate from their business. They connect with friends and family on social media away from their business, keeping their privacy. This is very understandable.
But remember — with a simple copy, paste, or screen shot someone can repost anything you’ve written.
Show Off Your Personality
I’m not suggesting that you stop living, or be scared of social media. I am suggesting you stop living on social media. Don’t post and comment on everything you see unless you’ve thought about the results.
Before you post, think — does this information have a positive purpose, or is it just filling up space? Anyone can fill up space, but not everyone posts positive, useful information. Do you want to be known as a space filler or someone to listen to?
You can’t stop what others do, but you can separate yourself from those who behave badly online. Remember, your image is yours. Don’t allow someone else’s behavior to dictate your image.
As for my sister, she unfriended and blocked the people involved, separating herself from the bad behavior. And it was a good thing, because she’s a local Realtor. By not being involved with the mudslinging, her clients saw her as a professional and ignored the offending posts.
Let your personality show on social media, but think before you post.
Have you had a similar experience on social media? Share your story in the comments below.