By Alyse Kalysh
A Twitter user had posted excitedly (and rather explicitly) that she’d landed an internship at NASA. After another user commented on her foul language, she responded even more explicitly. Turns out, that commenter was on the National Space Council. The woman reportedly lost her internship before it started. The council member said he wasn’t involved in any hiring or firing, but he wrote in a later-deleted blog post that he learned their exchange had gotten back to NASA.Sure, stories like these—about people who were fired or suffered career-related consequences for their online activities—are easy to brush off as rare events.
But they’re also an important reminder that your social media presence isn’t all that separate from your work life. And there are times when weighing in on an online conversation, posting something controversial, or sharing a specific viewpoint—even if it’s something we truly feel we need to express publicly—can get us into hot water professionally. While this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t post anything at all, it does mean you should ask yourself a few questions to carefully consider any potential fallout—before you publish that social post.
- What’s My Company’s Social Media Policy?
“Many companies now have a very specific policy outlining what is and is not allowed-This might include what happens if you break the rules, as well as guidelines for talking about your company online.
- Is This Something I’d Be Comfortable Having My Employer See?
If there are no clear-cut lines about what you can and can’t post online, you have to decide whether what you’re sharing is something you wouldn’t mind your company seeing.
- Is Anything I’m Sharing Confidential or Sensitive Information?
Let me just say this: You know that you shouldn’t be sharing confidential company information anywhere whether it’s online or offline. But it’s worth a reminder.
- Is This a Conversation I Need to Have Online?
It’s important to take a step back and think about why you’re commenting on or sharing certain things—not jus for your career but whenever you go onto social media.
- Is This Conversation in Line With My Personal Brand?
Finally, it’s always smart to factor your personal brand into the mix.
Ask yourself: What is your personal brand? What are your goals in terms of your personal brand? And, how does this post align with those goals? If it feels out of character or inappropriate, maybe it’s not worth posting.