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7 Social Media Mistakes Professionals Should Avoid

7 Social Media Mistakes Professionals Should Avoid

Do a quick search of just about anyone and you’ll be bombarded with ads for services that offer all kinds of information, including criminal records, phone numbers, and home addresses. To make matters even worse, you can search just about any social media network and have instant access to the personal views of an individual.

For a professional trying to establish their career, the internet has traps and snares all over the place. We live in a world where it is all too simple to find out what you want to about pretty much anyone.

For these reasons, among others, it is increasingly important that professionals be aware of the common mistakes made on social media to avoid while establishing their careers.

1. Personal, Non-Business Posts on LinkedIn

For anyone familiar with the very professional community of LinkedIn, this is a big no-no.

This network was created for professionals to reach out to other professionals. Posting inspirational quotes, images of your last vacation, or of that “cute cat” is super unprofessional and almost offensive.

Posting anything non-professional on LinkedIn sends off alerts in the minds of others, causing them to be wary of you and ultimately destroying trust and credibility of your professionalism.

Posting relevant items that help others understand your profession is completely acceptable and expected. You can check out this relevant post from Travis Bradberry here.

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2. Bad Spelling and/or Grammar

“trust me im profesh and ur in gud handz”
“Riiiiight.”

Regardless of the nature of any social media post, a professional who habitually posts with bad spelling and grammar conveys the message that they don’t have a good education.

In turn, this demonstrates to your target audience you’re probably not a very reliable resource. Habitually posting with improper spelling and grammar relays the message and idea that you’re a fraud.

Always double-check your posts, ensure spelling and grammar is correct.

3. Having Unclear Messaging or Objectives

As a professional, your audience expects a purpose behind everything you say.

Before you post anything, answer these questions:

  • What is the goal of this post?
  • Is it relevant to my target audience?
  • Does the wording make me look incompetent (or stupid)?

Whether it’s informational, helpful, or has a call-to-action, always have a purpose behind every post. The goal is to be in the “business” category in the minds of your audience.

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If you fail to have purpose with each post then you’ll risk falling into the “social” category. Here is a great article from Forbes about clear social media messaging.

4. Using A Social Media Account for Personal and Business

Unfortunately, the social media landscape is littered with professionals who use their social media for both business and personal reasons. Many people don’t realize how much of an adverse effect their personal views have on their audience.

Most social networks have the ability to separate personal and business profiles. This is very useful, and should be utilized.

As an example, a real estate professional using social media to engage with their market can ruin their career with one or two personal posts about politics or religion. Take advantage of the professional profiles most social networks provide. Heidi Cohen wrote a great article about social media for business versus personal.

5. Only Sharing Content From Your Website

Social media exists to help people be social. Only sharing things from your website says to the audience that your views are the only ones that matter. Recently, Google SEO updates have punished sites that publish articles with only themselves in mind. This is because the mindset of one who only shares their views is perceived as self-serving.

The more value you provide to your audience, the more valuable you become. It doesn’t matter where the value comes from. This is good news, it means you don’t have to be Superman and be the only hero.

Albert Costill of Search Engine Journal states, “You need to have a variety of content that is informative or entertaining for your audience. And the best way to do that is by sharing insightful content from authority figures.”[1]

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6. Posting Confidential Information

This one should be a given. Social media is seen by thousands and practically creates a permanent record.

A professional should be aware that your competition is watching you. For example, in my own business, I have alerts set up for anytime relevant competitors or potential partners post on social media.

Mashable.com posted a great article that includes a section with great points about confidential information. You can check that out here.

7. Making Enemies

We’ve all made a comment or two aimed at putting down one person or another, mentioned someone in a derogatory way, or minimized a set of ideologies at some point in our career.

President Trump, as well as his rival, both made comments that upset one crowd or another. The result was public backlash through social and mainstream media that impacted both campaigns.

While this kind of attention is a given for a presidential candidate, both candidates could have avoided these situations if they had been more mindful of their professional roles.

The lesson?

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Don’t put down other groups, ideas, or cultures. This demonstrates a lack of tact and discipline.

Kissmetrics.com put together a great article that discusses this here.

Conclusion

The basic rule of thumb when doing anything online is to remember that you’re a professional and to treat those you are working with as professionals. Recognize that you have value to provide and that your audience has intelligence enough to receive and understand that value.

Also, keep the message relevant. The team over at www.calvinwayman.com teaches a simple recipe they call the “4 Cs to Social Media Success”. These refer to content, context, consistency, and connection. All of these are critical for social media success.

Their blog is loaded with great information about how to manage your social media accounts. Check it out here.

Just keep in mind, if it wouldn’t provide value to you, it won’t provide value to your audience.

Featured photo credit: Rival IQ via rivaliq.com

Reference

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Herbert Timpson

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Last Updated on October 21, 2019

How to Be a Good Leader and Lead Effectively

How to Be a Good Leader and Lead Effectively

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a contender for the 2020 Democratic nomination, is a reminder of why I am so drawn to leadership as a topic. Whenever I think it is impossible for me to be more impressed with her, she proves me wrong.

Earlier this week, a former marine suggested that he had been in a long-term sexual relationship with the Senator. She flipped the narrative and used the term “Cougar,” a term used to describe older women who date younger men, to reference her alma mater.

Rather than calling the young man a liar, or responding to the accusations in kind, she re-focused the conversation back to her message of college affordability and lifted up that “Cougar” was the mascot for her alma mater. She went on to note that tuition at her school was just $50 per semester when she was a student. Class act.

But by the end of the week, news broke that U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, another contender for the presidency, had a heart attack. Warren not only wished Sanders a speedy recovery but her campaign sent a meal to his staff. She knew that the hopes of staff, donors and supporters were with the Senator from Vermont and showed genuine compassion and empathy.

To me, she has proven time and time again that she is more than a presidential candidate: she belongs in a leadership hall of fame.

What makes some people excel as leaders is fascinating. You can read about leadership, research it and talk about it, yet the interest in leadership alone will not make you a better leader.

You will have more information than the average person, but becoming a good leader is lifelong work. It requires experience – and lots of it. Most importantly, it requires observation and a commitment to action. Warren observed what was happening with Sen. Sanders, empathized with his team and then took action. Regardless of the outcome of this election, Sanders’ staff will likely never forget her gesture.

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You would have had to work on a political campaign in order to appreciate the stress and anxiety that comes with it. In this moment, staff may not remember everything that Warren said throughout the lengthy campaign, but they will remember what she did during an unforgettable time during the campaign.

If this model of leadership is appealing, and if you are searching for how to up your own leadership game, read on for six characteristics that good leaders share:

1. Good leaders are devoted to the success of the people around them.

Good leaders are not self-interested. Sure, they want to succeed, but they also want others to succeed.

Good leaders see investing in others just as important as they see investing in themselves. They understand that their success is closely tied to the people around them, and they work to ensure that their peers, employees, friends and family have paths for growth and development.

While the leaders may be the people in the spotlight, they are quick to point to the people around them who helped them (the leaders) enter that spotlight. Their willingness to lift others inspires their colleagues’ and friends’ devotion and loyalty.

2. Good leaders are not overly dependent on others’ approval.

It is important for managers to express their support for their teams; good leaders must be independent of the approval of others. I explained in an article for The Chronicle of Philanthropy, that:[1]

“While a desire to be loved is natural, managers who prioritize approval from subordinates will become ineffective supervisors who may do employees harm. For example, a manager driven by a need for approval may shy away from delivering constructive feedback that could help an employee improve. A manager fearful of upsetting someone may tolerate behavior that degrades the work environment and culture.”

In yet another example, a manager who is dependent on the approval of others may not make decisions that could be deemed unpopular in the short run but necessary in the long run.

Think of the coaches who integrated their sporting teams. Their decision to do so, may have seemed odd, and even wrong, in the moment, but time has proven that those leaders were on the right side of history.

3. Good leaders have the capacity to share the spotlight.

Attention is nice, but it is not the prime motivator for good leaders. Doing a good job is.

For this reason, good leaders are willing to share the spotlight. They aren’t threatened by a lack of attention, and they do not need credit for every accomplishment. They are too focused on their goal and too focused on the urgency of their work.

4. Good leaders are students.

In the same way that human beings are constantly evolving, so too are leaders. As long as you are living, you have the potential to learn. It doesn’t matter how much knowledge you think you have; you can always learn something new.

I have the experience of thinking I was doing everything right as a manager, only to receive conflicting feedback from my team. Perhaps my approach was not working for my team, and I had to be willing to hear their feedback to improve.

Good leaders understand that their secret sauce is their willingness to keep receiving information and keep learning. They aren’t intimidated by what they do not know: As long as they maintain a willingness to keep growing, they believe they can overcome any obstacle they face.

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As both masters and students, good leaders read, listen and study to grow. They consume content for information, not just entertainment purposes. They aren’t impressed with their knowledge; they are impressed with the learning journey.

5. Good leaders view vulnerability as a superpower.

It means “replacing ‘professional distance and cool,’ with uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure,” said Emma Sappala in a Dec. 11, 2014, article, “What Bosses Gain by being Vulnerable” for Harvard Business Journal.[2] She went on to note the importance of human connection, which she asserts is often missing at work.

“As leaders and employees, we are often taught to keep a distance and project a certain image. An image of confidence, competence and authority. We may disclose our vulnerability to a spouse or close friend behind closed doors at night but we would never show it elsewhere during the day, let alone at work.”

This rings so true for me as a woman leader. I was raised believing that any show of emotion in the workplace could be used against me. I was raised believing that it was best for women leaders to be stoic and to “never let ‘em see you sweat.” This may have prevented me from connecting with employees and colleagues on a deeper, more personal level.

6. Good leaders understand themselves.

I am a huge fan of life coach and spiritual teacher Iyanla Vanzant. In addition to her hit show on the OWN network, Vanzant has authored dozens of books. In her books and teachings, she underscores the importance of knowing ourselves fully. She argues that we must know what makes us tick, what makes us happy and what makes us angry.

Self-awareness enables us to put ourselves in situations where we can thrive, and it also enables us to have compassion when we fall short of the goals and expectations we have for ourselves. Relatedly, understanding ourselves will allow us to know our strength. When we know our strengths, we will be able to put people around us who compliment our strengths and fill the gaps in our leadership.

Final Thoughts

Being a good leader, first and foremost, is an inside job. You must focus on growing as a person regardless of the leadership title that you hold. You cannot take others where you yourself have not been. So focusing on yourself, regardless of your time or where you are in your career will have long term benefits for you and the people around you.

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Further, if you want to become a good leader, you should start by setting the intention to do so. What you focus on grows. If you focus on becoming a better leader, you will research and invest in things that help you to fulfill this intention. You will also view the good and bad leadership experiences as steppingstones that hone your character and help you improve.

After you set the intention, get really clear on what a good leader looks like to you. Each of us has a different understanding of leadership. Is a good leader someone who takes risk? Is a good leader, in your estimation, someone who develops other leaders? Whatever it is, know what you’re shooting for. Once you define what it means to be a good leader, look for people who exemplify your vision. Watch and engage with them if you can.

Finally, understand that becoming a good leader doesn’t happen overnight. You must continually work at improving, investing in yourself and reflecting on what is going well and what you must improve. In this way, every experience is an opportunity to grow and a chance to ask: ‘What is this experience trying to teach me?’ or ‘what action is necessary based on this situation?’

If you are committed to questioning, evaluating and acting, you are that much closer to becoming a better leader.

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Featured photo credit: Sam Power via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] The Chronicle of Philanthropy: Why Good Managers Overcome the Desire to Be Liked
[2] Harvard Business Journal: What Bosses Gain by being Vulnerable

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