There are lots of pitfalls to avoid when using social media. Here are five that stand out for users of Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook.
1. Being impersonal with invites on Linkedin. You have probably received an invitation that reads like this: I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn. Of course you have. That’s because it’s the stock Linkedin invite. It’s also aimed at nobody in particular. Yet so many people still use it. Most people want to be somebody on Linkedin. If you want to add someone to your network, get personal. Scrap the standard Linkedin invite and write your own. Using the other person’s name would be a great start.
2. Forgetting to check tone of your wording. Just like email, it’s easy to type words and forget that they may convey a tone you never intended. On sites like Twitter or Facebook, it’s especially wise to doublecheck the tone of your words before you Tweet or post. If someone mistakes your tone and takes issue with your Tweet, for example, you’re thrown headfirst into a Twittergument (an argument on Twitter) that’s limited to 140 characters per Tweet. Good luck spinning your way out of that one in two Tweets or less.
3. Failing to get social. You see this over and over again, especially on Twitter: People who never acknowledge things like #ecomonday mentions or #followfriday recommendations. Part of being social is saying thanks and you’re welcome. Of course, you’ll never be able to get social if you rely solely on RSS feeds or robots to generate your Tweets.
4. Posting private stuff on walls and comment sections. This one is a fear that permeates sites like Facebook. You know how the story goes: a friend decides, without thinking, to post a message on your wall or make a comment that’s a little too personal. Hello. If it’s personal and you absolutely must write it, send a private message. Would you stand in a crowd of 342 friends (many of whom, let’s be honest, aren’t really close friends) and tell everyone, “JOHN HAS $6,576 IN HIS POCKET RIGHT NOW!” Um, no. Don’t cause harm to your friends or followers on social media.
5. The legal arena extends to social media. Yes, libel laws involving social media is an emerging field, but as awareness grows, so too will the lawsuits. You may remember the headlines about a Chicago woman who Tweeted about mould in her apartment. She was hit with a $50,000 lawsuit. And don’t think deleting your Tweet will save your butt. The world of social media is incredibly viral. Once you start something, it’s very hard to stop it. Lawyers know this fact very well.