Facebook is a great way to share information and connect to others, but using Facebook can lead to missed opportunities and even legal issues. Here’s what not to do on Facebook.
Viewing profiles on Facebook has become the informal de facto method for conducting background checks on current employees and potential hires. Employers already have many ways to objectively validate work history, references, and more; but until recent years, they never had such an accessible way to peer into the life of a potential hire.
While it’s not wise to do so, many people post some nasty things on Facebook that simply can’t be brushed under the rug. Here are the five biggest doozies that can get potential hires or businesses into serious PR trouble.
- “A Picture Says a Thousand Words”. Great resume, but never received a call to interview? On average, employers spend less than 15 seconds viewing a facebook profile for a potential candidate that they are not interested in, but 3 minutes for candidates they think may be a good fit. Do you know why? The profile picture. Keep it clean, family and relationship pictures (nothing sexual or offensive), can say alot for one’s character and values. Family pictures can show commitment, while a picture with a man’s shirt off or driving a flashy car can show arrogance and immaturity. If the profile picture shows you in a negative light, you can be assured that potential employers will not be interested in calling you for an interview.
On the flip side, if your profile picture looks neutral or paints you in a positive light, your potential employer will dive deeper into your profile. Friends, photo albums, and past posts are the most common Facebook profile areas employers will review. It’s best practice to keep these items hidden from the public, here are a few helpful links:
- Bragging & Illegal Activity. Even though more common for personal profile pages, it’s still not unusual to see less than honorable behavior on Facebook business pages. There have been occasions in which the actual business owner’s Facebook page has had posts or controversial activity that has gotten them and the business into serious trouble.
It’s worth remembering that press and business competitors check personal Facebook pages of CEOs, which have led to the uncovering of scandals in the past. While police and insurance investigators routinely monitor people’s facebook profiles to uncover fraud and investigate crimes.
Like the depressed IBM employee who collected long-term sick leave checks monthly, for a year and a half, before the insurance company caught her posting pictures on Facebook that showed her relaxing on a beach and visiting a “strip-club” type establishment.
A government worker was fired after comparing her job usefulness to a “very expensive paperweight“. She also bragged on Facebook that she was highly competent in the art of wasting time, not taking accountability and shifting blame to others, as well as being great at stealing office supplies.
- Airing-Out Personal Issues. Though this is also somewhat rare on social media sites belonging to businesses, it occasionally still happens. This can take a number of different forms, from actual posts discussing personal issues, to calling people out who wronged you using your professional Facebook profile, to actually getting into personal fights using Facebook public posts. Regardless of what form it takes, it looks absolutely terrible and beyond unprofessional.
- Personal information. If you want to make a lawsuit happen very quickly, post a client’s personal information or identifying information on Facebook. Things like credit card numbers, first and last names, and phone numbers may be protected by privacy laws, and can open your client up to identity thieves. The only exception to this rule is when you’re posting about a client who won a prize in a contest you threw, and usually, it’s best to tag them in that post.
- Public backlash against bad reviews. If you want a surefire way to destroy your company’s reputation online, do so by verbally attacking people who had negatively reviewed your company. Call them names, tell them you’ll sue, and do all sorts of awful things to people who spoke ill of your company, and you’ll soon find the number of negative posts multiplying exponentially.
- Bonus Facebook tips for business owners:
- Posting Promotions & Contests. Since January 2015, Facebook has been penalizing business pages for posting promotions & contests. Surprisingly, many newbie social media agencies still practice and encourage their clients to do just this. If you’re a business owner, please read Facebook’s official tips and best practices when posting to a business page.
A great rule of thumb when it comes to posting on Facebook, if you don’t want it to be written on the side of a building, then it has no place on your facebook page. If even a slight doubt of whether or not you should post that little snippet you just wrote, don’t post it.