According to Oberlo, 3.2 billion people use social media every day. That equates to 42% of the world's population. You know what the average time per day per user is? 2 hours and 22 minutes. I tell you these statistics only to convince you, if you don't already believe me, that people are watching you. You may not realize it, but people are paying attention to what you post on social media. Even if they don't like, comment, or share what you post. As a litigation attorney and business mentor, I'm about to give you some free advice when it comes to social media posts.
Evidence, Evidence, Evidence. Whatever you post on social media can be used against you in a legal dispute and it can even affect the settlement value of a case. This is true even if you think your posts have nothing to do with the subject matter of your legal dispute.
For example, let's say you are in a car wreck and there is a dispute about who caused the accident. If litigation results, the other side can request your social media posts. All of the! If you were posting on Facebook right about the time of the accident, that's really bad for you. In some cases, if you are found to have deleted social media posts, you could be found to have "spoliated" (that's a fancy legal term for destroying) evidence and the judge could assess a a heavy penalty on you.
Here's another way that social media can affect a legal case. Same car accident. You're injured very badly and I am trying to get you a good settlement. However, for the past few months, you've been relentlessly posting on social media about all the concerts and parties you've been to, how #blessed you are, your vacations, and how grand life is. The other side is scoping you out. No opposing counsel or insurance company is going to award you a significant amount for "pain and suffering" or decrease in the quality of your life if that is what you are posting. Neither is a jury if we have to take your case to trial! I understand that most people are trying to impress others and "keep up with the Joneses"on social media. However, in litigation that doesn't really matter. Put yourself in the shoes of the person deciding how much money you will be given.
I'm not saying that you can't celebrate, enjoy, or have a positive outlook on life and also be really hurting on the inside, but what I am telling you is that adverse parties who are not your friends look at your social media accounts and they are entitled to do so under the law. NEWSFLASH: Your social media accounts are not private, nor are they protected. The best advice I can give you is to completely stay off of social media if it is likely that you'll be involved in a legal dispute. If you are already in a legal dispute, get off and stay off of social media. Do not delete any posts. If you are unsure about what to do, ask your lawyer.
Employers Check Social Media Accounts. Did you know that employers, when searching for the right person to add to their teams, check social media accounts? What impression would I have of you if I were to visit your Facebook timeline today? Would I want to add you as a professional in my law office? Would I want to bring you on as a business partner?
Would I find a cluttered-up page of profanity laced memes? Would I find that most of your posts are negative or involve gossip or bashing other people? Would I find other inappropriate content that does not reflect professionalism, good manners, or common decency? You would not believe some of the things that I see people sharing on Facebook today. It is unbelievable to me that people would allow themselves to be associated with such unprofessionalism and negativity. As an employer and business mentor, I can tell you that I pay very close attention to the social media accounts of any person who I am considering bringing into my law practice or onto my business team. If you are looking to level-up in life or to attain a new position in the workplace, consider a social media overhaul.
If you'd like me to audit your accounts and make recommendations to you about how you can "clean things up,"to make a more favorable impression, send me a message and I'd be happy to do that. However, don't ask me to do if it you are unable to accept constructive criticism and make positive changes. Chances are, I will tell you that you need to get rid of a lot of content you've posted.
Your customers or future business partners are watching you. This is perhaps one of the most important reasons to be mindful of your social media posts, particularly if you own your own business or if you want people to do business with you or send you referrals. For the same reasons as I discussed above, pay attention to what you post. You do not want to offend or turn off half of your potential customer base. You can have opinions, even strong ones, but are you willing to sacrifice your financial stability in order to make a bunch of social media posts that will effectively turn customers away from you? I don't know about you, but I'm not. If I am searching for a professional to do business with and I see a bunch of profanity or other inappropriate content on a social media account that is not in line with how I believe a professional should represent him or herself, I am likely going to the next person on my list.
Here is the other major offense I see business owners committing on social media. Complaining about their customers. Seriously?! You want to bash the people who pay for your services on a public forum or "preach" at them about how to properly book your services or make cancellations? You are scaring new customers away! It is one thing to make sure your customers understand your policies- - and there is nothing wrong with having policies- -but I suggest to you that this be done during a phone call or personal message versus on a social media post. Also, tone is everything. Be extremely careful how you word your announcements or policy changes.
Conclusion. I really could write about this topic forever. But, I think you get my point. I know you really think that meme is funny, you're extremely upset about something and need to vent, you really want to call that person out or jump on the political rant bandwagon, or you think that cursing and sharing inappropriate content is "just who you are and people just need to accept you," but trust me. Don't do it. It does not help you. It hurts you.
You're better than that and I want you to reflect your best self to whoever is watching. You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Make it a good one!
**Did you find value in this article? Do you think other people might benefit from hearing what I have written? If so, feel free to spread the word by sharing my post on Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. I am forever grateful to you for being here and for taking time out of your day to read this post.