After a long and grueling election year where social media was the prime place to share our beliefs on politics, I thought it was a good time to share with you the right and wrong ways to use social media. A few tips may be obvious to some, but to others, it may help you to make the right decision about what you choose to share. Before you press send and put your words (or self-made memes) out there for the world to see, remember the list below.
Let's start with the wrong way to use social media:
1. Don't post what you wouldn't say to someone's face.
Adrie Peterson said, “If you can't say it to their face, don't post it.” And she couldn't be more right. We need to think about the type of people who would be negatively impacted by what you might want to say. Would you voice those same words to their face? If not, you should reconsider.
2. Don't try to push your agenda.
In all my years as an avid social media user, my mind has never been changed by someone's argument or public outrage. Sure, if someone wrote a loving, informative blog post or Facebook status, I have adopted new thinking and beliefs. But pushing your agenda will push away loved ones rather than change their minds.
3. Don't share a relational issue in a passive aggressive way.
Disagreements with a spouse, family member, or friend does not need to be put all over social media. It's especially uncomfortable when the victim of the aggression responds and we see the entire argument right before our eyes, which leads me to the next point.
4. Don't use social media for arguments.
Sure, some people enjoy reading the drama, but you can't ever take words back. You are leaving an impression. Remember, you are typically not hurting one person but hurting several who may come across the discussion and share the same beliefs as the one you are attacking.
Now that we have gone through the “wrongs,” let's list some “rights!”
1. Do share who you are.
Many people say not to take so many selfies. But I'm all for them! If you want to share when you're feeling/looking great, or even if you're having a bad day, then post! Do you have a dozen cute pictures of your kids? Post those too! In my opinion, you can't overshare the parts of your life that make you the person you are.
2. Do encourage.
Social media is great for sharing encouraging quotes, blog posts, or life lessons. If your post is inspiring, there's no need to hesitate.
3. Do use to celebrate your wins.
You deserve bragging rights every now and then! Share a job promotion, an obstacle you've overcome, or the simple fact that you survived a hard day. Let everyone celebrate with you!
4. Do use it to unify.
You can absolutely share your beliefs, but do it in a unifying way. Don't single people out. Fill in the gaps; don't dig a deeper divide. People can disagree with what you post and still not feel misunderstood or offended when they read it. There's a difference. Share gracefully.
5. Do use it for networking.
There are so many great people to meet through social media. No other time has the world been so connected. Networking is a great asset to social media, but be sure to reach out in a genuine and unselfish way. Collaborate — don't use others!
6. Do stay-in-touch with loved ones.
Reach out to old friends or family who live out of state. That's the beauty of having complete access to everyone. Send a quick hello or comment on the posts they share. Take advantage of the way social media brings everyone together.
In the end, trust your gut. If you feel icky about posting, take a second to think if you are acting on an emotional whim. Come back later to the post after some thought. You may change your mind for the best. Erase the posts that divide, push an agenda, or start an argument. And start posting positive content that encourages and connects.
Tell us in the comments what YOU would add to this list?