Think before you post

By Louis Eksteen

The ridiculousness that is the American presidential race highlights, again, how social media as a universal platform for self-expression can change otherwise intelligent people into bumbling idiots. The latest spat between the president of Mexico and the Donald shows that who’ll pay for a wall – that will never be built – can, illiterately, “break” Twitter. Sigh.

It’s made me think, again, about why social media seems to bring out the more basic human instincts of fight or fright to the fore. I suppose we can add an idiocy urge to the list. Interestingly, for brands and public figures, it matters a lot who has access to the social media account. For big brands and schlebs, the likelihood is that a small army of handlers, advisors, brand managers, agencies and others basically take turns to post. So the level of discernible intelligence largely depends on who’s at the wheel of any given post.

Perhaps social missteps and general thoughtlessness has something to do with a mindset of not truly realising that, on social media, the conversation is between you and everyone else, not you and a definable person or group. Oh, and that nothing can ever be deleted once it’s out there.

Here are some pretty obvious pitfalls to watch out for, whether you represent yourself or anything else on social.

1.  Posting before thinking

I really like the Gmail feature that delays an email for a certain period before it actually sends. It gives you time to hit that handy undo button. Perhaps this is the illusive missing Twitter feature.

2. Thinking you’re alone

You’re not. The whole world is watching, waiting for you to post something stupid. See sin one.

3. Getting into a fight on Twitter

No-one ever wins. Your wittiness is another’s biting sarcasm and before you know it, you’re knee-deep in vitriol. You really don’t want to have a public fight on social. (But again, if you do it right, it can also be cool.)

4. Overshare

Pick your posts. One or two carefully crafted visual posts beat a million tweets of an unending stream of consciousness.

5. Don’t be overly negative

Except if you really are a grumpy cat.

6. Ignore a possibly escalating crisis

The Digerati don’t like being ignored. Even if it’s difficult, recognising someone’s gripes can go a long way in resolving whatever is getting up the Twitterverse’s nose.