While Dr. Timimi is speaking specifically to health care social media use with his blog, his simple mantra applies to anyone using social media.
Don’t lie: I wish one went without saying, but it doesn’t…these days, fact-checking is too simple, so don’t lie. Ever. It’s only going to cause you more headache in the long run and, really, when has lying ever been good?
Don’t pry: This one is more specific to the health care sector in terms of asking for personal health care information, which is obviously a big no-no. But, for everyone else, it’s probably still a good tip. Being engaging with your followers and fans is good, but don’t push for too much information. All you’ll do is leave a previous fan/follower/customer with a bad taste in their mouth.
Don’t cheat: I also wish this one went without saying, but the responses to Panda and Penguin have shown that too many people cheat in SEO (search engine optimization), so we have to assume they cheat in social media as well. This goes back to the first tip as well…everything can be verified quickly and easily in today’s world, so don’t cut corners and you won’t have to worry about someone finding out “the truth.”
Can’t delete: Yes, maybe you deleted that Tweet or post after you realized it was perhaps a bit ill-advised. But, if it made it to Google’s cache, deleting it won’t do a thing. It will still be out there in all it’s glory. And it will be obvious (to those who are interested and looking) that you tried to delete something, and that’s a red flag that someone posted something they shouldn’t have. What should you do? Be
100% certain that you really do want to post whatever it is you’re about to post. Make sure your content has a determined audience, is appropriate, and adds to the general conversation.
Don’t steal: This is another of the obvious ones. If you’ve heard it since you were old enough to walk and talk, you should definitely avoid it in everything you do. Make sure to give credit to anyone who is responsible for content you’re sharing, or even for inspiring your last post in a quick conversation earlier that morning. Show your appreciation by mentioning people on Twitter or Facebook, or linking to their content in your blog or on any social network.
Don’t reveal: If you have proprietary or confidential information about ANYTHING, do not post it on a social network of any kind. The information will quickly and easily be tied back to you, and could jeopardize your career.
Dr. Timimi adds in some additional tips that should be followed as a matter of course. I’ll include some of the most generally applicable:
Don’t endorse as a matter of course.
Adding a disclaimer is probably saner.
Anonymity is really gimmicky.
If you chat about your company, identify abundantly.
I left out the ones specific to health care, but one of the best things he says in the post is: “Here is the critical message. The same general rules that apply to offline behavior apply to online behavior. The difference is the platform online can leverage a mistake to a much wider audience.” This is true and examples of this can be seen all over the place in the last couple years. Lots of major brands and big-name celebrities have learned the hard way about how to use social media correctly. And some of the biggest blunders came in the way they handled the backlash to whatever they said. But, keep in mind that “errors will occur no matter how careful you are,” so come up with a social media policy of some kind, as well as a strategy for handling any issues that may arise.
Thanks to Dr. Timimi for his sound advice and cleverly worded reminders.
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