People are told since childhood that they should think before they speak. While many do heed the advice, inevitably you know someone who lacks the filter developed by individuals who have refined their sense of tact. Give them a Twitter or Facebook account and it’s like handing them a microphone. Instead of your grandma embarrassing you in front of your new significant other with naked baby pictures in a house full of family members on the first trip home, it feels as if she has posted them on the largest billboard in Times Square.
Social media outlets provide participants with a platform to publish their stream of consciousness. Contributors don’t always use common sense when posting. Sometimes things slip. It’s easy. Posts are accessible instantly to many via smartphones. Venting frustrations over Twitter about your mechanic might lead to a discount while mouthing off about a difficult customer will probably get you fired.
Businesses large and small are afraid of the ramifications of losing control of the conversation. Upper management is petrified of the “what ifs”. To remedy the situation, many organizations are developing mandatory social media policies outlining what is permissible to discuss online. While this is a great idea, one reminder may not be enough. To make lessons stick in people’s minds, consistency is often the solution.
Company executives receive media training before addressing the public. All company employees, regardless of their position, should be required to participate in social media training with regular updates and refresher courses. Highlight the more amusing instances of what not to do to keep sessions entertaining.
Why stop there? Talk to friends and family members (especially college and high school students) about their social media habits. Remind them that their remarks today might affect potential opportunities in the future.
No method is foolproof. Someone is bound to slip up. Plan for the situation, move forward and turn lemons into lemonade.