(NOTE: I always write my FB posts in third-person.)
David Alan Dedin stared at his neighbor's house in disgust. The beer cans. The weeds. The bong water-stained curtains, hanging in the windows like forgotten lynching victims. "Hmm," David thought. "This is why my Zillow rating is about as high as George Michael's T-cell count." David's thoughts continued to wander as he flipped through Angie's List, searching for an arsonist with good reviews.
Few of us ever consider the amount of personal data we share by using social media accounts. We post, tweet, Instagram, tumbl, pin, Skype, blog, text, and email...and rarely think about the consequences of sharing so much information. Thieves can review our FaceBook pictures, and note the exact locations of valuables within our homes. They can also follow our live narration knowing that when we're "sippin' our lattes," our homes are unguarded - less our cat who likes to have her twummy rubbed. Whenever we "check in" at a location (via FaceBook), we broadcast a real-time message, telling robbers how far away from home we are - and consequently, how long they have to carefully move our flat-screen TV into a waiting truck. Why even bother locking the door when we leave?
Stupid tweets are not a good career move for anyone - but they're particularly bad for those paid by the hour. So many employers now review social media as thoroughly as resumes, and a childish post - even on your personal page - can be as destructive to your reputation as getting fired from a previous job for theft (and will prevent you from getting hired/advancing in a job). Seriously. I'm sure I'm not the first one to say this, but after 9pm, all social media posts should require a breathalyzer.
But just because we all use social media doesn't mean that we have to give followers a blow-by-blow of our boring-ass daily activities. Social media is an art, a very effective tool if used correctly, and I genuinely believe that if they don't already do it, grade schools and high schools should include online behavior within their required curriculum. I mean, we teach teenagers not to drink and drive, so it only makes sense to do the same for reckless posting. And drunk driving is an excellent analogy for abusing social media. Think about it. The police love to drop a totaled car in the school playground a few days before prom. "This is what happens when you drink and drive, little Billy. But do you know what happens when you drink and post? THIS!" Rather than a blood-stained Chevy, the cops could set up a White Castle kitchen - with a drunken poster using his Masters to wipe the sweat from his brow as he stands over the grease fryer. "Are you scared straight now, Billy? Or do you still want to tweet that picture of you wiping your ass with the display drapes at IKEA?"
Between the books, blog, and BN activities, I try to maintain a steady social media presence - on this website, Twitter, Goodreads, and several different FaceBook forums. I've taught myself how to post for effectiveness, and I've learned - through trial & error - what kind of topics seem to generate reader's interest, and how to post on the various different forums. Here are a few things I've learned:
- If you have your own website (and it's so easy, there's no reason not to), the site should be your "hub." Everything else you do - Twitter, FaceBook, Instagram, blogging - should be linked to it in some way, encouraging readers to visit.
- Update your site often, several times a week if possible. The more content you have, the stronger your online "credibility" will become. A website with little content is like an applicant with no previous job experience; you're hesitant to give it a try.
- If you blog, try to post at least one new discussion each week. And really try to write about topics that last, so new readers find your archives as interesting as the new stuff. And keep the blogs upbeat, funny.
- Keep your business FB page separate from your personal FB page, but always watch for opportunities to use both pages to reinforce each other. Business friends can become personal friends and visa-versa.
- Post/tweet "ideas," rather than status updates. No one cares that you're shopping at Wal Mart, but readers love that you think people with ugly pits should not be allowed to wear tank-tops. Or that people with ugly feet should not be allowed to wear sandals. Or that when entering a mens restroom, there's nothing worse than seeing an old guy with prostate problems who's trying so hard to piss, it looks like he's fucking the urinal.
And I guess that's what it all comes down to. We don't want others to laugh at us because we don't use social media wisely - but not all of us have common sense. It's up to our REAL friends to monitor our activities, and to pull us aside and say, "Dude. Seriously. What the fuck were you thinking with that stupid-ass picture?" Real friends take away the keys when friends have too much to drink...so why can't those friends also take away the computer keys, during equally dangerous social-media situations?
Like a good FaceBook friend, that is literally the very least we can do.