Rules of Social Media:

How people are trying to avoid a #SM #Fail

By Ian Lee

The Hoffman Agency Singapore

It’s 2013 – time to leave behind our past mistakes and bad social media habits lest we end up making the same #fails that my colleagues mentioned here and here.

To find out how social media users are avoiding social pitfalls, I set up an informal survey among friends and asked what steps they take to avoid becoming the next social-media-gone-bad case study.

The first step they noted is the careful tending of one’s social media circle. Based on the survey, less than half of respondents would connect with clients on social media. Interestingly enough, about 3 out of 10 respondents said they would not connect with family either. I guess you wouldn’t want your clients or your mum to see what you got up to at last year’s holiday party (especially if you looked like this).

Lee_Chart1 - Rules of Social Media - Social Media Survey


This strategy of keeping social circles separated also correlates to the choice of social platforms on which you choose to connect. Unsurprisingly, Facebook is usually reserved for friends and family, with content being largely of a personal nature, such as hobbies, personal interests and cat videos. LinkedIn, as you would guess, is the platform of choice for work and industry-related material.

 Another method used to keep these social circles apart is by using multiple accounts; around 18 percent of respondents acknowledge that they have multiple accounts to manage content. One such respondent, who works in the public sector, said that he uses two separate accounts on Facebook: one as the “PR-friendly” profile, while the other is strictly reserved for close friends and family, where he feels more comfortable talking about personal matters (including his work).

Lee_Chart2 - Rules of Social Media - A Social Media Survey

With regard to what people will and won’t talk about online, it is interesting to note that while people generally share personal updates and subjects that interest them, only 50 percent would post material related to their clients, even if it’s positive. Another respondent, who works in a marketing role, said, “Social media is where I turn to unwind and catch up with friends. The last thing I want to do is worry or think about what my office or my clients will say about what I do online.”

Lee_Chart3 - Rules of Social Media - Social Media Survey

Oddly enough, the greatest contradiction that appeared in the survey is that slightly more than a quarter of respondents have intentionally posted content that they would not want to be seen by an unintended audience (e.g., your boss). One respondent, who answered yes to the question, said: “I trust that my privacy settings and keeping my online social circles tight should be enough to prevent unintended audiences from seeing what I write.” When asked why he would put sensitive posts online in the first place, he responded, “I like to express how I feel online, and that shouldn’t be a crime.”

Lee_Chart4 - Rules of Social Media - Social Media Survey

However, these sentiments are in the minority. When respondents were asked to provide a brief rule that they follow when using social media, a majority of them take a more cautionary stance of “what goes online, stays online”.

 So what about you? What’s your strategy with social media? 



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