People call 5WPR all the time wanting to know if there’s a silver bullet to social media success. Not really, no. Building a solid reputation across social media takes work. But if I was forced to boil it all down to one single chisel-it-in-stone sentence, it would be this:

Reputation Management through Social Media

It’s better to be careful than be sorry

If you won’t mean it tomorrow, don’t post it today. While crisis PR comes with the job in my office, I do my best to encourage my clients to avoid those circumstances whenever possible. Most take me up on that offer. Unfortunately for some people, social media is just too tempting – and too easy – to use without a filter.

A person can spend decades cultivating a career only to see it implode in 140 characters or less. #YouDon’tWantThat

Bottom line, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. That’s a simple life lesson too many people forget when they have a smartphone in their hands. Let’s look at three things you could do…but you probably shouldn’t.

Blast out what you’re thinking right now

Sure, that idea seems brilliant. After all, it’s completely original and utterly without competition in the marketplace of ideas. Then you sleep on it for a night and realize that idea really isn’t so special or unique or valid. In fact, that idea revealed a part of you that you’d actually rather have kept hidden. Too late. Delete it all you want. One of your friends already shared it…and some stranger is working on the meme.

Where you’re at right now

This is one of those that seems so entirely benign it tends to earn me a few raised eyebrows. Why not check in? Well, if it’s a function that fits entirely into your carefully cultivated online persona or brand reputation, go right ahead. But if you are someplace that might tarnish that reputation – or even distract from it – it’s better not to offer your coordinates.

How you feel right now

Again, your feelings at that very moment may be extremely strong and seem entirely valid. You may have also had a few beers. It’s okay, you’re human. Enjoy it. Here’s the thing. Customers don’t want you to be human unless THEY made the mistake. They WANT the carefully cultivated image you spent years developing.

While these rules may seem asinine or constricting, consider this. A decade ago, this was not even a question. There were definitive lines drawn between public and private lives. Between business profiles and backyard barbecues. Not so much anymore. Better act – and think – accordingly.