Social media: can’t ignore it, can’t rely on it

June 8, 2009

I love using Facebook and Twitter to connect with my friends, network with public relations professionals and learn about trends in the industry.  However, I’ll admit: I’m a little paranoid about using social media.

Every time I send a tweet, update my Facebook status or comment on a friend’s photo, I’m reminded that I’m not just representing Rebecca. I’m also representing my family, my employer, my university and my church.  And although my views and actions may not line up perfectly with the values and beliefs of these groups, I’m still connected to them through my digital footprints.

I read a rockin’ post from Mashable today about how social media is changing the newsroom.  Journalists not only have to be careful about how they represent themselves on the Web, they also have to be careful about using social media as a resource to write stories and create content.

Here are some of the tips I picked up from the post:

  • Social Media: Can’t ignore it, can’t rely on it.

For example: If Kent News Net read a tweet about a house fire on S. Lincoln St., that’s a great news tip.  However, you shouldn’t consider the tweet as a reliable source until it’s confirmed.  I can’t imagine how embarassed I’d be if I went to print and later found out the tweet was a hoax.

  • You always represent your organization(s).

Social media is a platform to express youself, but you’re also representing organizations you’re affiliated with.  Watch what you say, and don’t be afraid to monitor your friends’ comments, too.  I love the inside jokes I share between my friends, but I’ve had to filter many of the comments written on my Facebook wall to avoid drama.  If I couldn’t explain it to my mom, it shouldn’t be on my Facebook wall!

  • Your tweets go farther than you think.

I decided to search for my name on Google the other day, and my Twitter account was in the top four search results.  This means anyone- a coworker, an old friend or a potential employer- can read my tweets, even if they aren’t following me.

WWJD Bracelet

  • Let your followers, friends keep you accountable.

Remember the slogan WWJD?  (That’s “What Would Jesus Do?” for those who aren’t sure.)  When using social media, I like to refer to “WWMT?” (What would mom think?) and “WWMBT?” (What would my boss think?)  Go ahead, let your boss follow you on Twitter.  It’ll hold you accountable and make you more cautious about what you choose to tweet.

Now that I’ve told you what I learned, what are your own social media rules?  Have you run into any sticky situations with social media?


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