There is one important secret musicians often overlook in using Facebook to promote their careers and stay connected. It’s almost certainly something you already know but are not disciplined about. It’s this one fact: when it comes to Facebook and other social media, people ARE watching. I heard a Wall Street Journal report last week (this is the link to the published article) noting how employers and recruiters are using prospects’ personal Facebook profiles in hiring. In fact, scanning a candidate’s social media profiles is now a routine part of a hiring process.
But it can be part of a firing process too. I have heard recently of several instances where a musician’s comments about a gig situation have resulted in the loss of a job. Naturally, I will NOT provide details.
We all get used to using our social media accounts as a place to share the daily events of our lives, the good, the bad and the ugly. But when so many people have interconnected profiles, it’s usually only a click or two before a one-sentence rant posted in a moment of frustration can cause big problems. A comment we never would have wanted overheard actually becomes broadcast, and with sometimes devastating results.
If you’re still unconvinced about the widespread nature of this problem and the frequency of its occurrence, I did a search with the phrase “job lost over facebook post” and got a return of 318,000,000 (that’s 318 MILLION) results!
I am far from being a social media guru. But even so, I have a few tips and reminders on how to use social media and not get burned:
1. Check your privacy settings frequently. Remember, it’s easy to miss an “update” from a network that results in your privacy settings being changed without your knowledge. Check them often. But don’t rely on them as your only buffer between you and potential consequences.
2. If you can’t say anything nice…That old saying our mothers taught us is still true in the age of instant sharing, perhaps even more so. If you need to share something frustrating or worse about a job situation or a co-worker, think about the many eyes that will read it. Each reader puts his own spin on what you write, and your original context or meaning may be misunderstood.
3. Phone a friend. Think before you post – Is social media really the place to share this? Maybe whatever you’re experiencing is best communicated to a good friend over the phone or face to face.
4. The comments on your post reflect on you. Even if your post is harmless enough, it may bring out some pointed comments. In one case I saw recently, the comments even changed the focus of the original post. The post was about an annoying incident, but the comments turned it into a complaint against a particular person, an employer, whose part in the story was really tangential. If this starts happening to one of your posts, play it safe – just take the original post down.
5. Social media is a professional tool. We all need to stay connected and to let the world know the wonderful things we are doing musically. Treat your social media accounts as part of your storefront, the public face you present to the world. It will help you remember to keep smiling!