The Liability of a Picture

Social media has given rise to an obsession with selfies and the documentation of average, everyday events, such as the strange habit some people have of taking pictures of their food and then posting it on Facebook for their friends to see.

This picture sharing obsession has also ruined people’s careers – some deservedly so. For example, Anthony Weiner’s escapades with other women were exposed because he couldn’t resist the temptation of taking pictures of himself practically nude. His political stock was rising rapidly in the US before he was exposed as a narcissistic adulterer due to his picture taking activities (If you’re unfamiliar with this story, just Google the word ‘Weinergate’). He’s not the only politician to suffer a similar fate. A teacher lost her job because of provocative pictures she posted online in a bathing suit. A Canadian MP’s career was abruptly ruined when social media pictures surfaced of her holding marijuana paraphernalia, fingering the Canadian flag and other unsavory activities. The list is long of those in leadership roles whose careers have been destroyed — sometimes rightfully so and sometimes not — because of social media pictures that presented an image less than trustworthy.

It’s also important for those of you focused on career goals and currently looking for employment to understand picture posting etiquette. Career Builder reported in June of 2014 that “A new survey from CareerBuilder found that 51 percent of employers who research job candidates on social media said they’ve found content that caused them to not hire the candidate, up from 43 percent last year and 34 percent in 2012.”

Like it or not, your online profile is quickly becoming your public reputation. And with online oversharing hitting 6th gear, I want to cover some best practices for entrepreneurs and career-minded folk who insist on sharing their daily occurrences on social media. Public perception will make or break your business career.


5 Tips for Professionals and Entrepreneurs That Use Social Media

Never have your picture taken with a drink in hand: This is sound advice a friend’s father gave to him, and it should be drilled home these days. Probably the most overdone picture on Facebook pages, particularly among Millennials, is the token group shot at a bar or club with drink in hand. While I’m not condoning going out with your friends for a night on the town, don’t document your drinking activities online. There is nothing positive that comes from it; and optically, the more pictures you have on your profile page of this sort of thing the higher the likelihood people will presume you have a drinking problem or like to party too much. Of course, neither are good perceptions when you’re trying be taken seriously as a business leader.


Variety is good: If you’re in every picture, or the vast majority, on your Facebook page, you come off as self-absorbed. If you like sharing, take pictures of things you’re doing, or landscapes, or friends and family. Just don’t make it all about you. Make your social media page interesting – show your depth of character.


Refrain from obscenities: This one seems obvious, but I’ve been shocked at some of the gestures made on some well-respected business leaders’ personal profile pages. Obscenities and rude gestures aren’t cool or funny. They demonstrate ignorance and arrogance.


Grammar check: People often include some sort of caption with pictures they post. That’s great. Just make sure you edit what you write to avoid coming off as illiterate or poorly educated. Again, it’s surprising how often I see elementary grammar mistakes in picture captions.


Smile: This one applies to men. Seems some think the more serious they look in a photo, the more serious they will be taken. If you don’t look happy, no one wants to get to know you. Lose the ‘Blue Steel’ pose. Smile, tough guy.


If you enjoy partaking in social media, just understand the liability of reckless picture sharing. Your Facebook page can and will be used for or against you in the court of public opinion. And every year more and more businesses and potential customers are using your page to make a decision whether or not you are a stand-up character.

Stay hungry,

Aaron Hoddinott signature



About the author

Aaron Hoddinott

Investor and marketer willing to take big swings at bold ideas.

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