Social media is a vital tool in gaining public exposure, but that exposure comes with risks. Making social media responsibly second nature is extremely important in maintaining a positive image and sense of credibility.

Whether it’s your personal profile or that of your organization, it is important to act responsibly and communicate well. Social media platforms are the leading technology in digital interpersonal communications, but it is crucial to remember that at the end of each exchange is a real live person.

Here are a few social media responsibility tips to consider:

  1. Never express anything on social media that you would not share in person.
  2. It is important that your social media platforms are not idle. They need to change and grow alongside personal and professional developments – it is the only way to uphold their credibility.
  3. The content pushed out on your social media platforms should be proactive not reactive.
  4. Research before you respond. It is important that you know your audience and where their information is coming from prior to reacting publicly.
  5. In the midst of a PR crisis, do not repress responses. You can decrease your organization’s reputational damage by delivering assurance and accurate information in a timely manner.
  6. Implement a social media policy and code of ethics, for both personal employee profiles and for your organization’s – this will ensure that all those associated with your organization and in the spotlight of stakeholders will act responsibly on and off the clock.

As a PR professional, following these tips will help you in cultivating a savvy but sensible social media image. Of course, these tips are nothing without vigilance. Any one post could spell doom for your brand. Both you and your organization need to develop a measured approach to the risks and rewards of social media exposure. Stop and think before you post – you’ll be grateful you did.

To learn more about PR and social media, check out Heidi Cohen’s “10 Ways to Make Social Media Accountable” and the book Ethical Practice of Social Media in Public Relations by Marcia W. DiStaso and Denise Sevick Bortee.