5 steps to S.M.A.R.T. social media use

S.M.A.R.T. iconTo most people, social media is mere fun and games ― a means of killing time and staying in constant contact whether they need that contact or not.

But social media is serious stuff in the workplace. Saying the wrong thing online, even one word, can harm your reputation and bruise your employer’s image.

That’s why employers are busy creating policy to protect themselves and their workers from assorted threats and intimidation. But policy is useless in thwarting ignorance.

People misuse social media mainly because they misunderstand it. They think social media is just technology. In fact, it’s a window others reach through to influence you, just as you influence others.

That’s because social media “sees” you. It does this by drawing a picture based on your willingness to tell everyone where you are, what you’re doing and what you’re thinking.

Thus, the more you interact with social media, the more it knows about you. And the more everyone else knows about you.

So, keep in mind, responsible social behavior isn’t a matter of policy. It’s a matter of maturity. The more mature you are, the less likely you will get yourself, and your employer, into trouble.

Think of it this way, because it’s true: The best guide to good social media policy stares at you in the mirror every morning.

Be S.M.A.R.T about social media by observing these 5 guidelines:

S= Separation ― Try to keep your professional media use separate from your personal media use. For example, connect to friends and family with your default Facebook page, but create a business page for work-related posts.

If the content calls for it, you can embed links between the two. But try to maintain a distinction, and try to maintain distinct Twitter, Pinterest profiles, too.

M= Meaning ― Make sure you say what you mean, and mean what you say. Don’t type and send right away. Type and stop, and wait for a total of 2 minutes. Re-read what you’ve written, think about how it’s written and whether it says what you want.

Remember, you are your own best editor.

A= Attitude ― Measure your mood because it will come through your writing. Don’t use social media when you’re:

  • Angry
  • Sleepy
  • Hungry
  • Drunk

These are the four behaviors when you’re most vulnerable.

R= Responsiveness ― Answer promptly, or don’t answer at all. If you can answer within a minute or an hour, great. Being prompt is a measure of respect and politeness. After 24 hours, however, others perceive the long delay as an insult, no matter your excuse.

T= Timing ― Be aware of what’s going on around you. Pay attention to office politics, current events, anything that shapes a public conversation. Then, be ready to respond ― or not respond ― to what’s happening in the proper context. Say the right thing at the right time.

Another “T” related to Timing is:

T= Taste ― Context is king; taste is queen. Minding the former helps assure the latter. And timing is crucial to both.

(Editor’s note: This was the central theme of a presentation I gave to the Community Service Public Relations Council of St. Louis on July 9.)

A partir del Cinco de Mayo

On the fifth comes my first.

Starting today, the day famously known as Cinco de Mayo, all the logic and lunacy symbolic of my first blog resumes here ─ where it should have been all along.

Posterous logoFour years ago, I staked my claim to this domain and anchored it to this publishing platform, unsure what to do with either one. The prevailing logic demanded my domain be an extension of my personality and house bits and pieces of it.

Instead, I resisted, because prevailing logic affords no permanence, only convenience. In time, that kind of logic changes, and logic, by definition, defies convention.

Then, three years ago, I began blogging. Well past the portmanteau’s freshness date, I know, but began in earnest no less. The first few posts were sporadic; later entries were better and bolder. I was on track toward regular blogging when three things occurred:

1) I became regional director for the Society of Professional Journalists, a job possessing demands that, to my surprise, wilted my routine.

2) My mother suffered a heart attack, then a stroke. Since then, she has slipped out of cogence and into hospice care. My trips to see her changed from random to routine.

3) My chosen blogging platform, Posterous, shut down.

The third factor proved more distracting than I imagined. Posterous had character and wide appeal. It was free to use and mindful of mobile users, becoming one of the first blogging platforms to make mobile posting seamless. High-profile bloggers made it their chosen platform, too. I felt, as one always does early in a relationship, that Posterous had staying power.

Then Twitter bought it. Then Twitter plundered it for talent. Then Twitter, on April 30, shut it down.

When the platform folded, my nascent network of regular readers fractured. True though, they followed me over from social networking, which takes more time out of my day than acceptable. Still, if my thinking ever deepened, those followers now lacked a venue to witness the plunge.

So, today, I dust off this domain to make it into what it should have been from the start. That it happens on May 5, or Cinco de Mayo, is coincidence, if maybe a happy one.

Of course, I could retrench at another free blogging site (and I have, to a degree). But I’m paying for this one, it sat dormant way too long, and even if this publishing platform changes, the ideas expressed here ought to remain here.

I hope.