We’ve all said things and done things we regret. In the real world it’s a little easier to attempt to make reparations. In the Social Media world it can be much harder.
Social is a Tool – Learn to Use it Wisely
This post is going to focus on a few things you can do as an individual and/or as the person (or team) responsible for managing your Social Media stream. The idea behind this post it to keep you and your persona safe or at least a little safer in the world of Social Media.
First off, what is a social media stream?
Your Social Media stream is the amalgamation of all the places you post or reply to content on the various Social Media channels. There are always new channels popping up, but a few have become dominant as both personal and professional Social Media areas of engagement.
If you are acting on your own and just managing your own content on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and other Social Media channels, you can use these points as guidelines. If you are responsible for managing some or all of your corporate social media channels, you should take a close look at these and put some of them into play right away. Even if you are working for a company, there are some common sense guidelines you should consider if you are going to mention your company, your customers or your partners. There are a few key points and a few pro tips here to help you get the most out of your Social Media engagement efforts.
Key Point: There is NO DELETE KEY on the Internet. 
What you post is there FOREVER. Post Wisely.
No matter what some sites may tell you … what you post is there forever. 
All is not lost. Just use common sense. Use your best judgment when thinking about what you want to post, when you post, and where you post.
Panic is not a Four Letter Word
Things will happen in the world that will catch you off guard. Some will be pleasant surprises and others may put you in a state of panic. Sometimes they will be things you caused yourself. These are a little easier to manage. Other times they are things that are happening in the world.
A few examples to consider. At least two of these were panic inducing and all three generated a lot of smiles … for some people.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
  • Good – Oreos at the Super Bowl. When the lights went out … The Brand Shined.
  • Bad – Kenneth Cole Shoes (for the second time) made a gaffe related to Boots on the Ground.
  • Ugly – Most anything that attacks a person directly. Other examples include when hashtags get hijacked. There are a lot of examples out there, but McDonald’s had one that went the wrong way fast.
How to prepare for these situations
Prepare up front. Of course, no one can imagine every scenario that might occur. However, everyone can have a plan for when (not if) something does happen. A few examples are below. You may not want or need to use all of them, but being aware of them may help you avoid or at least defuse an embarrassing situation.
  • Have a Panic Button. If you use two of the more popular apps for posting content on your behalf, you have the option of controlling how and when they post. Buffer has a pause option, and Hootsuite allows you to re-schedule posts. Of course, if you are posting directly yourself, you should be able to exercise your own Pause Button.
  • Have a SWAT Team – have your calling tree / email tree setup in advance to be ready to respond to rapidly evolving situations. Use this War Room mentality to both defuse challenging situations and to develop creative responses. Sometimes you can make guesses as to what might happen. See the Oreo example above.
    • Pro Tip: Use Yammer to quickly update everyone that needs to know.
  • Don’t be afraid to use the panic button and the delete key.
    • As noted above: Nothing is ever truly deleted from the internet, but taking an offensive or otherwise ill-timed / inappropriate post down can help diffuse a volatile situation
  • Walk It Back – When something goes out on a personal or corporate account that is inappropriate, ill-timed or otherwise offensive, do at least the following things:
    • Own it.
    • Acknowledge it, apologize, and alert people you learned from your error.
    • If you feel compelled, delete it. Realizing that there is no delete key on the internet, deleting it is the common sense thing to do.
Best Practices
  • Think before you post – A little thinking now can go a long way.
  • Post wisely – Choose your Social Media channels as well as your timing.
  • Own your stream – If something goes wrong, fess up and own it. People respect that.
Worried about getting hacked?
We’ve seen a few cases where something untoward was posted. Sometimes, but not as often these days, we hear about a site that was hacked. If you are really worried about it, you should consider Two-Factor Authentication. Microsoft products, including Windows Phones, support two-factor authentication. Here is a simple, straightforward example for adding Two-Factor Authentication for your Microsoft account. Here are three examples from PC World on using two-factor authentication that should help you get started. Pro Tip: Get Started RIGHT NOW
And, you should have a strict policy on passwords – if it’s your personal account, change your password on a regular basis.
 “Passwords are like toothbrushes … you should change them often”
 If you are also working on corporate accounts put in a similar policy AND make sure you know who has the passwords. It may seem quite obvious, but as people leave the organization … CHANGE THE PASSWORD.
By taking responsibility for your personal and professional Social Media engagement efforts, you can enhance your career and perhaps save face for yourself or your company. Bad things happen, ill-timed comments and posts are inevitable, but with some planning they can be mitigated even if they can’t be eliminated entirely. Also, with a little foresight and forward thinking, some serendipity may occur that lets you and your company really shine.
I hope these tips will help you Think about how Engaging on Social Media is critical to your career success.
About Jeff Shuey
Jeff is an expert in the Enterprise Content Management industry. He brings over 20 years of Channel Sales, Partner Marketing and Alliance expertise to audiences around the world in speaking engagements and via his writing. He has worked for Microsoft, Kodak, and is currently the Chief Evangelist at K2. Follow him on Twitter @jshuey or on LinkedIn: in/JeffShuey