Skip navigation

BLOGSelf-Made Scandals and the Long Memory of Social Media

by Randall CraigFiled in: Make It Happen Tipsheet, Blog, Social Media, TrustTagged as: , , ,

Great news… and then disaster. You’ve just been given a new promotion. Or elected to public office. Or given a prestigious award. You’re on top of the world, basking in the recognition that was so hard-earned with years of effort.

Self-Made Scandals and the Long Memory of Social Media

And then, an old picture crops up, or an embarrassing tweet, or a tone-deaf social media post is surfaced. When this happens, your reputation — and a lifetime of good work — goes out the window. Yes, disaster.

Yes, people change over the years, so what you said (or posted) years ago might not reflect your current thinking, but that does not matter.

Yes, your words or pictures might have been taken out of context, but this also doesn’t matter.

And yes, these were dug up by people who were hostile to you, who had an agenda. But this doesn’t matter either: you did say those words, and you did appear in the pictures.

Social Media, and the web itself, has an incredibly long memory, and is easily available for anyone who wished to do even the most basic of digging. So what to do?

In the olden days, PR professionals would tell their clients that they should never say (or do) anything that they wouldn’t want to appear in the headlines of the newspaper or on the nightly news. Today, however, Social Media and the internet effectively ARE the newspaper and the nightly news… but are also coupled with search technology that allows easy and precise retrieval of your precise words.

Some people advocate avoiding all Social Media completely. Not only is this foolish (as it doesn’t prevent others from sharing what you say), but it is no different than saying that you won’t bother breathing air, just because you don’t like the smells from the kitchen. For leaders — and most people, for that matter — it is impossible to completely avoid Social Media and the internet.

So it may be obvious, but It’s best to avoid doing or saying anything that could later be embarrassing. And it is just as obvious to state that each person must actively manage their online reputation — otherwise, trust will suffer… and disaster awaits.

There are three key components to this:

  1. Review every post or image that you have created on ALL social media platforms, and delete them if they are either embarrassing, no longer your current view, or you think that they could possibly be used out of context.
  2. Monitor social media for posts where you are tagged, mentioned, or otherwise referenced. If the post is inappropriate, flag it for potential action.
  3. Monitor the internet, using tools such as Google Alerts (and others). If you find pages that contain erroneous or embarrassing information, flag these for potential action as well.

This Week’s Action Plan:

Choose one Social Media platform, and then go through each and every post and photo, with an eye for the potential for disaster. Then decide whether it makes sense to leave the item, delete it, or edit the post for context.

Related post: Ten Tests: Reputation Rescue

Does this topic resonate? Reach out to Randall: he can present it to your group.  (More presentation topics)
Download Randall’s professional credentials: Speaker credentials one-sheet or Management Advisory credentials.

Content Authenticity Statement: 100% original content: no AI was used in creating this content.

@RandallCraig (Follow me for daily insights) Professional credentials site.



Randall Craig

Contact us for more on Randall’s topics, availability, and audience fit.

Back to top