Safe Social Media Strategies
By Suzannah Raff, MScA, MSW
Whether it’s to find a job, to promote a career, to network, to consume information, to work faster and more efficiently or for hundreds of other legitimate reasons, we need social media today. So how do we protect ourselves and our families from all the psychological, emotional, and spiritual dangers lurking in social media? Here are my tips, as both a Social Media Strategist and Social Worker, on how to maintain a healthy balance while navigating your way through professional social media use.
- Set aside a time of day for yourself when you will not use social media. And stick to it. I personally unplug from the hours of 4:30 to 7:30 every night. Setting boundaries will help keep your life in balance. It will also serve to set a healthy example to your children.
- Filters. It’s very important that you have quality internet filters and security. While they can’t protect us from everything, security and filters are critical to you and your family’s personal and professional safety.
- Always use a professional tone while on social media. Be careful not to fall down that rabbit hole. Once you fall, it’s very hard to get out, especially as what gets shared on the internet has an eternal footprint. I find one way to help stay ‘above it all’ is to always keep in mind that the reason you are on this social media site is for a professional purpose. So before you hit that ‘Post’ button, review it and make sure that what you are posting fits with the professional image of yourself you are trying to create.
- Be very cautious and careful when sharing images of children of any age, especially your own! There are lots of scary stories floating around about the ways predators find their prey through social media and even use other people’s pictures in shocking ways. Since my social media profiles are for a larger professional audience, I have a policy to never share pictures of my children, ever. And I make sure to remind my friends and family of my policy, often, so that they never accidentally post pictures of my children and then tag me. I am not suggesting you have to have the same policy. But if you choose to share pictures of your family, make sure you use the filters that the social media sites have set up for that extra level of protection.
- Set goals and stick to them. For example, you can decide that you will use Facebook or LinkedIn for x number of hours a day in order to accomplish the following goals: curate news articles, maintain my ‘expert’ presence as an ‘influencer’, support my friends who are running small businesses through facebook, keep my finger on the pulse, network for a new job, etc. Decide how and when you will use social media and don’t get sucked in. Stick to those goals.
- Don’t hide the fact that you use social media. Instead, you can use it as another way to set healthy examples. You use it for work. You set boundaries. You maintain a professional tone. You keep your family protected and safe when you are on it.
- It is also important to sit down and communicate with your children, no matter what their age, but in an age appropriate way, how dangerous the Internet and social media can be. As important as it is to tell your children not to talk to strangers, it’s equally important to explain to your children that strangers and predators lurk on the Internet as well. Have these talks with your children as regularly as you have your talks about other safety issues.
- Finally, sit down with your family members and/mentors and have a talk to discuss the fact that you will be using social media for your professional life. Discuss with them how you can begin to set the above boundaries to keep yourself and your family safe. Then, check in with them regularly and ask, ‘how are we doing?, has our social media and Internet usage affected our relationships? Brought us down spiritually? Are we abusing it? Are we staying focused on our goals? Are we being successful? And continuously ask yourself, ‘what more can I do to not get sucked into the abyss’.
I hope these tips will help you safely and successfully navigate the hazy waters of social media. Do you have other suggestions you’d like to share? Questions or comments on the above? Feel free to comment below or contact me here.