How can you be sure you’re sharing safely and not oversharing? Matt Purcell, a social media specialist, shares his six-question checklist before sending any post live.
Social media is a great tool for sharing our personalities, but it does welcome risk. And without a considered approach, we might unintentionally jeopardise our private lives.
I’m fascinated by the psychology behind posting on social media. From my experience, there are two main reasons people post. The first is for a certain benefit and the second is to be valued and seen.
If you are working on developing or building a personal brand, you may be posting mostly for commercial benefit. If you are a parent, you might be posting for social benefit, to appear and be seen to have a set of values.
No matter who you are and why you post, here are my top tips for safely sharing without oversharing.
Treat social media like your house
We want to make sure our house looks good, that it’s inviting and stands out. We don’t let just anyone into our house. It’s where our loved ones might live, and where we keep personal belongings. We have the lock and key to allow who we want in and even ask people to leave if we want to.
Just like your house, with social media people can see certain things about you from the ‘outside,’ let’s call this your personality. Your personality is made up of your major traits, interests, values, self-concept, and abilities.
You can post about your hobbies, humour, abilities, and opinions about the world around you to show who you are. But if you think about it, people don’t really know anything about you. You would never let strangers inside your house that you don’t trust.
The public-facing, and private-facing sides
The inside of your house, or account, is your private life. This space should be reserved for those who have earned the right to be there. You get to choose who you let in this space.
Your private life is made up of things including your personal secrets, and information about you and your loved ones. This could be anything from how much money you make, a relationship problem, family dynamic or what your partner looks like. You deem what is private and personal to you.
You can use social media accounts to benefit all aspects of your life. By creating a closed group, like Close Friends on Instagram, you can share updates, wins, and losses with the people you love and care about.
This gives you the freedom to share your personality, which can benefit your professional and social standing in the world.
How to reduce your risks online
Everyone wants to be seen to look, act and appear a certain way but with this comes risks. What if specific content about you or your accounts upsets your followers, or doesn’t align with the values you mean to express?
One way to reduce risks when posting online is by asking these six questions before you send any post live.
1. What benefit do you get for sharing ‘the’ shot?
A good example of this is the “just sold” photo in front of your house. How much benefit do you get from this one post compared to the potential risks of sharing with the internet where you live?
2. Examine why you’re sharing something very personal
Say you post about mental health, or a significant illness you have experienced and have been able to recover from it and want to help others do the same. You might be a business owner whose business was built as a result of something that affected you personally.
This might help your brand and be relevant. But if it isn’t, think about whether it’s worth sharing in such a public forum. It may not be.
3. Are there ways to de-risk the personalisation of the post?
Do you need to show pictures of your kids, and tag your exact location? Or can you be more general in how you discuss these things? If not, remove any additional information to help minimise your risk.
4. Could what you’re sharing be perceived as negative?
Sometimes, influencers might post photos of them in a situation that doesn’t align with their brand values or their audience’s perception of their brand values.
Maybe, you are someone who promotes healthy living or fitness online and gets tagged in a post with friends at a fast-food restaurant or something perceived as unhealthy. This is a small thing but could jeopardise your brand.
5. Could your post be seen as offensive to others?
Maybe you share a political point of view, even if this isn’t your brand; how might your audience react or perceive you? It’s something to consider before you post.
Social media has been designed to make us feel good and to drive engagement with audiences. We can become influential, even reaching celebrity status but, with a higher profile status comes higher risk.
6. Should you be posting content of children?
As much as your personal brand may align with sharing your love for your children, nieces or nephews, ask yourself this question especially as your audience could be a bunch of strangers.