Facebook has made it possible to communicate with thousands of people, or even more, at once. But with that comes the ability to embarrass yourself in front of everyone as well. Even worse is losing friends or your job over thoughtless comments.
Business owners know Facebook has made communicating with customers easier than ever. But there are dangers in this as well. They must be extra careful to avoid mishaps that could cost them customers or lead to PR nightmares.
The next time you log into Facebook, make sure you don’t make one of these dumb mistakes that could ruin your, or your company’s, reputation.
1. Making private messages public
This is a fairly common mistake that has been occurring since the Internet made mass communication possible for everyone. When all it takes is a click of a button to send a message to many, it can be easy to make your entire contact list aware of private information.
An embarrassing accidental Facebook status can reach even more people than that. A good rule of thumb is not to send messages unless you’d be comfortable with them showing up on the front page of a newspaper.
2. Bad-mouthing others
Facebook can be an attractive venue for venting your frustrations, but rarely is it a good idea. People who do this often come out looking worse than their target. When you find yourself on Facebook while frustrated or angry, think twice before you post anything because there could be consequences.
Many people have lost their jobs over a careless remark. Business owners have to be even more careful with their words. It is a bad idea to respond to a negative comment with more negativity because that rarely solves the problem. When dealing with customers, always take the high road.
Remember, once you post something, you can’t take it back. Even if you delete something you’ve posted to Facebook, others might already have taken screenshots or otherwise saved or shared your comments.
3. Doing something stupid then claiming you were hacked
This is a common excuse of celebrities have posting something they regret shortly afterwards. It becomes even more ridiculous when the average person claims they were hacked and had embarrassing information posted.
With celebrities it’s somewhat more believable that someone would want to either impersonate them or harm their image (though it’s still usually unbelievable). But it becomes even harder to believe that there are hackers lurking with the goal of ruining the reputation of Average Joes.
4. Posting embarrassing information or photos without thinking
People certainly have different views on what is appropriate to post on Facebook. Before you post pictures, take your career (or future career) into account. Even if the 21-year-old version of you thinks pictures from a wild night are okay, it won’t be long before job recruiters and interviewers could be the ones viewing those images.
Those planning on applying to college or graduate programs should be careful as well. Entry can be competitive and most admission officers are capable of searching social networks to get more information about applicants.
5. Getting caught in lies
If you are a Facebook addict, long gone are the days that you could safely play hooky from work or school. Many people habitually post comments and check-in, often forgetting the excuses they made earlier in the day.
Claiming you are too ill to attend a friend’s event could easily lead to hurt feelings if two hours later you are checking in at a bar. Everyone knows it is hard to keep track of lies, and Facebook amplifies it. So to avoid broken friendships, stay away from Facebook when making up excuses. Or better yet, don’t make up excuses at all.
Facebook is a great tool for connecting with others, but there’s no guarantee you’ll always be portrayed in a good light. When your Friends list consists of friends, coworkers, bosses, and family there can be a fine line between what’s “safe” to post and what you should keep to yourself. Though tightened privacy settings can alleviate some of the danger it is best to think twice before you post to avoid looking dumb.