Let me just preface this by stating that I love pit bulls, and they are hardly the blood-thirsty child-biters some people make them out to be. But – and this is a Kim Kardashian-sized but – they do need correct handling, care and supervision to be their best selves. Bringing this back to the point, it is in this respect that having a social media account (or 10) is like owning a pit bull (admit it, you were wondering where I was going with the pit bull thing). The dog-eat-dog world of social media needs to be approached with caution, because, as we routinely see over December when South Africans fill up the beaches, misbehaved Facebook comments and careless tweets can evoke extreme backlash and raging social debate about the depravity of mankind (I’m tempted to name names, but I’ll refrain. You know who you are though). Incorrect management of social media often results in damage to a brand’s image or a boss yelling “You’re fired!” (Why, oh why, are people still calling their bosses humourless old fartbags on Twitter?) So, to help manage your pit bull, here are some key questions to ask yourself before you hit “send”, “post”, “tweet” or whatever applies to your preferred social media platform:
- Are you being rampantly racist or offending a minority? (The answer we want here is: No. If your common sense doesn’t tell you this, I’d advise you to stay away from all social media. Ever. I’m serious.)
- What would your mother think? (Answer: That she was, in fact, right to have kids.)
- Is this helping or hurting your personal or business brand? (Answer: Helping. If it’s for your business, whoever reads it should already be clicking “subscribe” and signing up for your newsletter.)
- Did I add too many hashtags? (Answer: No, my post is refreshingly hashtag-free and intelligible to human beings not born in this century.)
- Is the post relevant to anything at all? (Answer: Yes, I am making a point or interesting contribution that at least one person will care about. In other words, unless you’re selling breakfast foods, don’t post pictures of your breakfast.)
The fact is it’s all about branding. Whether it’s the account you made to showcase your Chihuahua’s winter wardrobe or your small business’s Facebook page you haven’t posted on in three years, it’s all representing an image of you to the rest of the world. Your social media accounts can either be an asset (this is the well-behaved pit bull that everyone stops by to pet and baby-talk to) or a disaster (this is the pit bull that everyone hates because it ate the neighbour’s cat). You choose.