Is Social Media Worth the Risk?

By Jeff Beals

“I’m taking a break from Facebook.”

“I don’t even check Twitter anymore.”

I’ve been hearing statements like these with increasing regularity.

As political vitriol reaches new pitch levels, some people are finding social media to be too unnerving.  While Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter remain an important part of my life, I can understand why a person would want to avoid all the unpleasantries.  It’s almost as if you have to psych yourself up these days before opening your Facebook feed.

Like you, I have social media friends/connections who constantly spout fervent opinions on a host of socio-political issues.  I strongly agree with some; I vehemently disagree with others.  Nevertheless, I don’t share my political opinions on social media.

For me, spouting emotionally tinted political opinions is bad for business.  No matter what side of the aisle you favor, about 40 percent of the people agree with you, 20 percent don’t really care, and 40 percent disagree with you.  I can’t afford to alienate the two-fifths of the population that opposes with my politics.

Now ideological purists might say, “If you don’t share your beliefs, you’re not being true to yourself!”  Others might say, “By shying away from the political debates of our time, you’re selling out!”

I can see where those people are coming from, but the fact remains: making inflammatory political statements is a risky proposition.  The things you say on social media can hurt you.

Just think of the people who have missed out on new clients and career promotions, because they got carried away with controversial statements online.  We often don’t even realize who we have ticked off.

Of course, nobody is perfect. If you’re passionate about your opinions, it feels good to let them out on a public forum especially if you make a pithy and well-structured argument.  Despite my efforts to restrain myself, I sometimes slip up.  I have said things in public that would have been better left inside my head.

But none of us are immune from the consequences of our words.

So that brings us to an important question: With all the ways it can hurt you, is social media worth the risk?

If you’re careful what you say, social media are probably the most cost-effective way of building and maintaining your personal brand.

Professionals need a widely recognized and highly respected personal brand. When a large number of people have heard your name and have a positive feeling associated with it, you stand a better chance of winning new business, landing a new job and making a bigger difference in the community.

The key is to develop a system of “checks and balances” in your head — anytime you are about to post something, think about your personal brand.

If your purpose for posting a message is emotionally driven, it’s best to pause for a moment and cool down before you start writing. A little time and perspective can go a long way in preventing the consequences that could come from an inflammatory post.

Consider whether the post advances or damages your personal brand. Consider how it will come across to someone who doesn’t know you well or isn’t intimately aware of the subject you’re talking about.

When posting, it pays to think like a journalist. In other words, don’t assume you’re only communicating with close friends or family. Instead assume that the world will read your post. Theoretically, if just one person shares or forwards something you write, there’s a chance your message could go viral.

In some ways, these precautions might feel like a little overkill. Perhaps you think I’m demanding too high of a standard and that you don’t want to worry so much about everything little thing you post. I understand, but remember social media are like fire — if used properly, social media benefit your life; if used improperly they can kill your career.

Jeff Beals shows you how to find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share.  Jeff is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant.  He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states.  A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.”

Here’s Why Should You Choose Jeff Beals as Your Next Speaker:

“Jeff Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events this year. At each event, the audience of commercial real estate principals and agents was completely engaged and motivated the entire time. Jeff facilitates his training sessions in such a way that each member of the audience was able to relate and understand how to apply it every day in the field. Jeff is brilliant, and we have hired him to continue speaking at our events next year!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

“Jeff Beals is a consummate pro. With short notice, he put together an engaging, fun, sales-focused presentation full of specifics – just what our exec team needed. We’ll ask him back for annual company retreat again next year.” – John Baylor, President, On to College, Lincoln, NE

“In the three months since Jeff Beals became my sales coach, I have signed over 20 new, top-tier clients and have positioned myself among the top three sales producers in my company nationwide. Jeff has helped me create a beneficial success plan and ensures, through an accountability process, that I’m actively accomplishing my goals. Not only is Jeff an incredible coach, he’s a true friend, mentor and wonderful human being.” – Carter Green, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Stratus Building Solutions, Oklahoma City, OK

(402) 637-9300