Are You a Good Social Citizen?

While I was researching some content for an ABR learning program the other day, I came across a pretty shocking statistic: social media has overtaken porn as the number one activity on the web. Kind of shocking to me.

This got me thinking about the impact social media plays in our lives today both personally and professionally. Are you familiar with Canadian singer David Carroll’s story? The baggage handlers at United Airlines broke his $3,500 guitar, but United initially denied responsibility and refused to pay for the repair. After many futile attempts to negotiate, Mr. Carroll tried a different tactic. He created a music video called “United Breaks Guitars” that has been viewed by nearly 14 million people. The response? United Airlines was forced to re-think their strategy. The conclusion? Social media has transitioned into an obsession and almost a way of life for online culture, changing the way we communicate with our colleagues, loved ones, and our favorite brands.

Unfortunately, though, social media can also be a breeding ground for general bad behavior. For some reason, when people are online, they tend to act differently than they would in real life. You may remember the story about the two Domino’s Pizza employees who filmed a prank in the restaurant’s kitchen and then posted it online. It only took a few days for the video to circuit the Internet, resulting in the employees receiving felony charges and Domino’s facing a public relations crisis.

Why did these Domino’s employees post this incriminating video? Did they not realize the impact their video would have? Did they feel a sense of anonymity because they were behind a computer? We’ll probably never know the real reason. The lesson learned is that if social media is here to stay, we need to learn how to be good social citizens. This means keeping the following in mind:

Be responsible for what you post: Take responsibility for what you post, and exercise good judgment and common sense.

Be authentic: Your honesty—or dishonesty—will be quickly noticed in the social media environment.

Consider your audience: Think about who your readers are and how your posting might impact them.

Understand the concept of community: The essence of community is the idea that it exists so that you can support others and they, in turn, can support you.

Remember to protect confidential and proprietary info: Once you hit “share,” you usually can’t get it back. Respect your brand, trademark, copyright, fair use, and trade secrets. If it gives you pause…pause rather than publish.

What are some other tactics you use to model good social behavior?

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