Written by Lynne Landman

People have quickly adapted to using social networks as the primary method of communication with friends and family since the launch of Facebook in 2004 and X (previously known as Twitter) in 2006. Other popular social platforms include Instagram, Pinterest, WhatsApp, Telegram, and LinkedIn, to name a few. Social media users have developed norms and expectations regarding proper social media use and etiquette during this time.

No matter how sophisticated you think your use of social media is, you must always be up to date with what people deem appropriate

It’s just as easy to feel anxious about a post as it is to post something without considering the consequences. That being said, it is critical to understand how to use social media responsibly.

If you look into how many potential people can see your comments on social media, you will be astounded. Take Facebook, X, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, and ten more networks, multiply them by the number of your friends, times the number of their personal and business contacts, and you’ll get an idea of how many people will see your post on social media.

There are some pointers on what to do and what not to do when using social media (remember, there is always a digital trail.) This is especially important if you are in the business world or if you are looking for a new job.


  • It is acceptable to share positive stories about employers, coworkers, clients, and projects. Just make certain that what you’re sharing isn’t considered personal. Sharing something positive contributes to the development of a positive relationship between you and your company.
  • Compliment your boss on social media. It conveys your pride in working for your company.


  • Never share sensitive or private information that you do not want the rest of the world to know.

One challenge with social networks is that no matter how secure or safe your post or profile is, it still forms part of a social network and can most likely be seen by others. Discussing, mentioning, or posting about sensitive information about clients, friends, or family members, for example, can enrage others and sometimes cause harm. A good rule of thumb is to never share information that does not pertain to you. Alternatively, seek permission before sharing something.

  • Be cautious about the information you share on social media platforms, and be mindful of the language you use.

As we discussed in a previous post, every role player in an organisation in some way represents the brand for which they work. Even if you work in a personal capacity, people will associate you with the organisation for which you work. People will still associate your behavior with your business, even if you are cursing, disparaging others, or complaining on your personal social platforms. We must exercise caution when using social media because you never know what a potential customer or employer might see on your profile.

  • Nothing negative should be said about your employer or his or her practices on social media.

Never say anything negative about your boss or his or her business practices. Everyone wants to vent about work issues now and then, but making disparaging remarks can land you in hot water. If you make false negative comments, you could be sued.

  • Never tell stories about your employment, clients, or work environment without permission.

Funny client stories happen all the time, but posting them online, even if they can’t be traced back to the client, gives the impression that your company promotes gossip. Avoid complaining about your boss, coworkers, or the campaign you’re working on. Not everyone needs to know what’s on your mind, and telling one of your coworker “friends” about your dissatisfaction with your boss could cost you your job.

For example, if you are promoting a cheese company and you dislike the specific cheese and the client, keep it to yourself.

Many clients use social media “trackers,” which collect and analyze all mentions in any capacity.

  • Do the New York Times test.

Before you hit the “send” button on any social media or communication medium, consider whether you’d mind seeing it on the front page of the New York Times. Do not post anything that could embarrass you.

  • Take care with what you write.

Remember that if something is written down, it exists. It does not mean that something you post in a private location or send to someone’s inbox will not end up in the hands of someone else later. If you mistreat someone in an email or on WhatsApp, there’s always the chance that they’ll see it — whether on purpose or by accident. Be extremely cautious about what you write and share in public.

  •  Ask yourself: It this really true?

Just because you heard something in another channel doesn’t mean you can automatically repost it, unless it was posted in a public space like X, Facebook, or Instagram. If you want to repost something, make sure the author has given you permission first. If you’re adding new members to an existing email thread or private group, make sure the existing participants are okay with this new person seeing what’s already been posted or written.

  •  Treat others the way you want to be treated.

Treat your coworkers the way you would like to be treated at work. Don’t be the employee who publicly shames a coworker in order to force him to act. Never write something out of rage, vengeance, or personal vendetta. You should never air your dirty laundry in public. Any social media platform is open to the public, and nothing is considered private.

  • Don’t use social networks when you are feeling emotional.

Any social media platform should not be thought of as private because it is public. For instance, a grieving brother may write about his sister’s controversial passing and post it to Facebook. A well-known newspaper picks up the post and publishes a media placement with a repeat of the brother’s message.