Pause Before You Post

One of the first lessons that anyone needs to learn about social media, whether they are using it personally or for a business, is…

Think before you speak

Almost all of the case studies of social media failures can be traced back to someone posting something online, or responding to someone or something, in the heat of the moment. In other words, reacting without first pausing to reflect. Included in this would be the business in my post from yesterday about not creating a welcoming presence.

It seems as though too many in the digital realm use

Open mouth, insert foot

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Shoot first, ask questions later

as their mantras, and the result is some sort of social media crisis.

But that won’t cut it. That’s why I was pretty excited to stumble on an initiative called “Pause Before You Post“. This is a project started by Jostens, the company that most likely made your high school class ring, or perhaps your yearbook. The initiative isn’t new, but it’s new to me.

The project is geared toward students, who are perhaps the most vulnerable to posting their thoughts while in the midst of emotional turmoil, but also has sections for parents and teachers. It’s a great reminder for HS and college students that they need to begin thinking responsibly before they post things online, especially because it could have far reaching effects as they begin searching for jobs or applying for colleges.

But it’s also a great reminder for all of us, whether we’re posting things about politics on our own profiles, or engaging with customers on a business page. We need to stop and think before we post our thoughts. Think about how it will be received by those who view our words. Think about the possible damage these words could cause.

Here’s an excerpt from Jostens’ Pause Before You Post page that sums the situation up nicely:

Personal publishing happens every day

Technology has enabled anyone and everyone to instantly publish their personal writings and other creative endeavors. If you have ever written a blog entry, posted a comment or reply on a website, uploaded a video to YouTube, posted a comment or picture to Facebook, or uploaded an audio podcast to a website, you’ve participated in personal publishing.

Rewards and risks of personal publishing

Many of us are actively involved in creating content for the Internet and, most of the time, this content is creative, interesting, educational, and socially and culturally appropriate. Online publishing allows for quick and easy feedback from friends, adults, or even experts from around the world. The benefits of this new ability can be great, but sometimes there are risks as well. Some postings may be irresponsible, hurtful, or otherwise inappropriate or misinterpreted. Examples include publicly complaining online and sharing facts about identity and location through mobile phones and websites.

Don’t let your emotions control you. Make sure that pausing before you post is written into any formal social media policy you have for your business or organization. And if you’re about to post something and you have second thoughts or doubts, listen to them.

When in doubt, don’t. I would much rather have regrets about something I didn’t say, then about something I did say that takes on a life of its own on the web.

What measures do you have in place to protect yourself from making a mistake online?

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