One of the things we do a lot of around here is read…

We read everything we can get our hands on that might remotely apply to social media marketing: articles, blogs, studies, expert advice, how-to’s, and even how-not-to’s. We spend hours every day reading, in a never ending effort to learn more ourselves… and hopefully pass along useful information. (You’re welcome.)

Today, we ran across one item after another warning about the dangers of social media. We recognize that this could be a blogger version of “blue car syndrome” (after all, the pieces aren’t all dated today). But… it could also be the Universe nudging us to make a point we think of every time we read such warnings (since they did all find their way into our timeline, wall and search today).

So. Better safe than sorry, right?

From “Top 5 Mistakes Brands must avoid on Facebook” to “Social Media’s Seven Deadly Sins“, from Microsoft’s apology for their Amy Winehouse tweet to an Olympic athlete warning that social media can destroy reputations, the message seems clear:

Social media is a scary place that can ruin you and put out the sun. Learn and follow all these rules or face certain doom!

Except we don’t think so. We think the best rules and advice we’ve read can all be distilled down to one very simple concept. In fact, we can reduce that one concept to one word — THINK.

Sounds too easy, doesn’t it? But it’s just that simple.

From childhood, we’re taught how to behave in certain situations. Maintaining a civilized society requires rules both written and non-written, and by adulthood most of us have got them down. (You don’t go to the store in your underwear, for example. Er… at least, we hope you don’t.)

What we’re getting at is, people who are successful within society think about their interactions, even if they don’t realize it. A person might shout profanity at a football game on their own TV, but most wouldn’t do it at church. (And while your underwear might be an acceptable outfit while watching the game on your own couch, you likely don’t hang out at the sports bar in your boxer briefs.)

Social media is a society. A community. And the easiest way to avoid most of the dangerous dangers we keep reading about is to just think before you interact… just like you would in your real community.

Would you print it on a sign in front of your business? No? Then it probably doesn’t belong on your Facebook wall. Would you say it out loud in a group of mixed company? No? Then fercryinoutloud, don’t Tweet it! Would you turn your back on someone who tried to talk to you? Then don’t ignore their comments!


There are a million examples of what can go wrong if you don’t…

Yes, Anthony… you. You’re our favorite object lesson.But we still think this one’s the best.

If you don’t want to face the embarrassment of losing your job, being mocked on the public stage, and having millions of people who are not your wife see photos of you in your drawers, don’t release such photos into the social media community.


(And you thought we just had a weird underwear obsession…)