For many of us, social media is our main form of communication. Coupling this new trend of communicating with the holiday season could be a dangerous combination. Here are a few tips when posting via social media during the holiday season and every day.
Who, What, When, Where and Why?
It's often good to think about who your audience is when posting via social media. Do all of your 500 friends on Facebook need to know you're getting together with your entire family for a holiday gathering? Probably not, but if you want to share, do so after the fact.
It's safer to say, “I had a lovely time with my extended family this past weekend at Grandma's house” than to say “I look forward to spending time with my extended family this weekend at Grandma's house.” Why? If you pinpoint your location, the wrong person may deduce that if you and your family are at Grandma's house, then you've left an empty home. Keep this “when” in mind with all of your posts, tweets, check-ins, etc. Some retailers offer coupons or deals based on check-ins or other social media posts; before doing so, carefully consider if it's worth letting your friends know where you are (or more importantly, where you are not).
Privacy Settings: Be aware of what you share
Double and triple-check that your privacy settings are unseen to the public. If a long-lost friend wants to find you, they don't need to see your public profile to do so. There are a lot more harmful people out there than long-lost friends who click on your profile. Also, consider what someone with bad intentions could do with your full birthday, maiden name, hometown and other personal details that are divulged through our social media pages.
The Unknown Friend
We all hope that the friends that we have made through social media have good intentions and the majority probably do, but it's not your friends who necessarily pose a concern. If you post, “Thanks, Santa... I love my new big screen TV” your friends will likely enjoy the post, may comment, may re-tweet, etc. But what about all those who see this post who don't have good intentions? What about the friend of yours who has left their account logged in on a public computer and the next person who sits down sees your post? What about the person who has lost their phone or tablet and was signed into all of their accounts? It's the unknown friends that we need to keep on our radar.
“I sort of remember you” friends
For Facebook especially, you should only friend people that you actually know (unless of course you're a celebrity and have an agent handling your account). For those people that you sort of remember, if you must friend them, only allow them to see a limited profile. And it's always good to go through and hone down your friend's list. You only want people you actually know seeing your posts.
Logout when you're done
We are all human, which means none of us are perfect. We lose things, it's just part of our nature. But if you log out of social media sites when you are done, if you do lose your device, the wrong hands will not be able to get into your social media accounts. Yes, this is annoying to do every time, but the end result of being protected will be worth the irritation.
The best advice for social media communicating especially during the holiday season is to think before you post. Is it really worth posting something that could cause harm down the road? Probably not. Keep your posts light and entertaining; don't pinpoint your location; and certainly don't let the world know about all the wonderful gifts you have received.
Have a safe and happy holiday season!