Look Before You Link


Nearly 60% of links shared in social media haven’t been read first, the Washington Post and others reported this year.

Don’t do that, if you care about your professional reputation. Take the time to read the content of every link you share in social media.

Sharing content implies your endorsement of it and agreement with it. It’s a similar principle to recommending someone for a job – your reputation is on the line.

What if there’s something lurking in that content link that doesn’t represent your views? How will you know if you don’t read it first?

Josh Ochs, a “digital citizenship speaker who teaches students how to shine online,” says it well for people of all ages. He advises to keep your social media content, “light, bright and polite.”

Here are some guidelines to assess whether or not to share a particular link:

DO share links that:

  • Aptly illustrate the topics you and your social media communities are interested in
  • Provide relevant and appropriate data and metrics to support key points
  • Position your company and its leaders in a positive and accurate light.

DON’T share links that:

  • Have disparaging information about your company or its products. For example, because my employer provides video content, I don’t share links that bash TV (this is where I remind readers that opinions are my own).
  • Overly focus on your employer’s competitors. Unless you’re an official company spokesperson, it’s better to be silent on competitors.
  • Cover topics you don’t want your good name associated with – whether it’s negativity, bar-hopping, gambling or other questionable topics.
  • Have any content that could be perceived as offensive or disparaging to any group or groups of people. If you’re not sure, don’t share it.

Always ask yourself if what you’re sharing reflects positively on you, your employer, your family, your community, and so on, before you post. If not, don’t post it.

Here’s a good tip from Bill Duane as covered in The New York Times – ask yourself before you share if the content is true, kind and necessary. It it doesn’t meet all 3 criteria, don’t share it.

When you do have content to share that passes all of these tests, add your perspective. Briefly say what’s important about it. Include a key takeaway or a memorable quote.

And be sure you look before you link!

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Caroline Leach

Hi, I'm Caroline Leach. I help people and organizations tell their stories. I'm a Marketing VP at AT&T, a former Communications VP at DIRECTV and an alum of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. This blog, How to Build Your Career through Social Media, shows you how to build your personal brand, advance your career and embrace your future. It helps you promote your employer and your network too. Opinions expressed in this blog are my own. Your comments are welcomed and encouraged. I'd love to hear from you!

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