Digitized Koffee with Nick
Before Posting on Social Media Ask Yourself These Questions
Would I be far off if I said the vibe amongst us is incredibly tense these days?
One consequence of this tension: social media has become a minefield in which it’s easy to post, unintentionally of course, or share content that provokes negative reactions and possibly have your followers turn against you. In 2022, at a time when fear, constant angst, and an uncertain future are grating our nerves there’s much to consider before posting on social media.
Social media truth: You have no control over how your posts will be interpreted.
For example, people have differing opinions on vaccination and getting a booster shot. Hence, posting a photo of you getting vaccinated can be triggering. When you post such a picture, what are you trying to say? The same question could be asked, especially when many are struggling financially, about posting pictures of your new car, Caribbean trip, or dinner at your favourite restaurant. Bragging about your lifestyle on social media is insensitive and a turnoff.
Then there’s social media’s equivalence to hypocrisy, virtue signalling—digital engagement of “do as I say, not as I do.” Token display on social media has become so common that it’s often seen as an attempt to look good and garner ‘likes’. Virtue signalling isn’t a good look, especially amongst your followers who know you personally and how you actually live your life. Say you claim on social media to be concerned about climate change, does your lifestyle reflect your concern? Do you live a minimalist lifestyle? If not, you’re extending an invitation for your hypocrisy to be called out, as many are now doing with David Suzuki and Hollywood celebrities who denounce climate change while living wasteful first-world lifestyles.
The possibility of creating a storm by posting what you consider an ‘innocent post’ gives many these days ‘posting paralysis’—you want the world to know, but… Therefore, many play it safe and opt not to post.
You can’t do anything about how someone reacts to what you post. So many people today thrive on being offended and angry at differing opinions. Maybe it’s their way of coping with living in a world they don’t feel comfortable in.
However, you can avoid going down a mental-angst rabbit hole by soul-searching whether what you’re about to share must be shared and what you hope to gain. The following questions will guide your soul-searching.
- “Why do I want to post this?”
Every post, share, retweet, like—every social media engagement—has an agenda behind it. Why’s what you’re about to post important to you? What’s your emotional and personal connection to it? Is it a moment or a subject that you want to digitally honour? Or is it a vanity-trap photo of you looking ‘accepted’ drinking beers with friends laughing around a campfire? Assess the reason for your post. If it’s entirely self-serving (bragging), seems unimportant, or in bad taste, think about holding off.
- “Where did I get the information I want to share, and is it accurate?”
Always consider the source before posting or sharing on social media. Fact-check to ensure what you’re about to share is reliable and credible. Being called out for posting false information isn’t just embarrassing; it damages your credibility.
- “How can I phrase what I want to share respectfully?”
There’s no hard and fast rule governing what tone is appropriate and what tone isn’t. Instead, focus on the content you’re about to post. That said, unprovoked intensity is not the way to go. A mask-off selfie of you embracing a group of friends doesn’t require a defensive two-paragraph rant defending why you choose to be mask-less, which will just invite conflict.
Before hitting the send button, gauge your tone and ask yourself what mood your tone creates for the reader.
- “Am I prepared to receive backlash from my post and, if necessary, defend it?”
Regardless of what you decide to post, you should be at peace with your decision. If you can sense the content may be somewhat controversial, then emotionally gear up to handle the responses you may receive.
Can you emotionally handle negative feedback and comments, or will it lead to you engaging in a heated non-constructive debate? Even if a resulting debate or discussion is constructive, it can be time-consuming, stress-inducing, and emotionally draining. Even though such a dialogue can be valuable, be sure to ask yourself if you’re ready for negative feedback.
~ Nick Kossovan is the Customer Service Professionals Network’s Social Media Director (Executive Board Member). Feel free to send your social media questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter and Instagram follow @NKossovan.