Does caution still trump chaos on social media?
In 2016, we released the results of a social media conduct survey, which explored topics such as the First Amendment, social media controversy, and professional online behavior. Needless to say, a lot has happened in the social media world since then…
Why revisit the survey now? Since 2016, we’ve seen a colossal increase in attention paid to social media behavior by politically powerful people. Yet despite all of the news focusing on controversial presidential tweets, our new survey shows that the typical American is actually getting more cautious in their social media behavior.
If you want to safely navigate the social media world — or even use it to your advantage — then you need to understand the norms that shape our relationship to it. And to that end, our 2018 Social Media Conduct survey shows a clear trend.
More people are playing it safe on social media…
In 2016, 34.6% of respondents said they would continue to post things on social media that could be a turnoff to employers because their social media accounts were private. Only 30% of respondents said the same in 2018. Likewise, in 2016, 31% of respondents said they “never” posted content about “divisive” issues online, compared to 34% in 2018. These aren’t big swings, but virtually all of the questions we asked showed the exact same trend — a two to five point swing towards more cautious online behavior.
“Silence is a true friend who never betrays.” -Confucius
Doesn’t the First Amendment protect my social media speech?
Our White Label SEO 2018 Social Media Conduct Survey revisited several of the same questions just to observe the changes in opinion over the last couple years. Most of the data and questions revolve around whether or not people think that what they say on social media is protected by their First Amendment rights, as well as the impact that their social media use had on employment, both current and potential. What was clear in 2016 was that a large percentage of people weren’t sure how the First Amendment worked online.
Do you believe that getting fired because of a social media post is an infringement of First Amendment rights?
- Yes: 41.2%
- No: 28.3%
- Unsure: 30.4%
- Yes: 37.5%
- No: 29.7%
- Unsure: 32.7%
- Yes: -3.7%
- No: +1.4%
- Unsure: +2.3%
- In 2016, 71.6% of people in our survey weren’t aware of how social media posting applies to their First Amendment rights.
- In 2018, 70.2% of people in our survey remain unaware of how social media posting applies to their First Amendment rights.
This result shows that while social media is an increasingly important part of our lives, most of us don’t fully understand the intersection of social media expression and First Amendment rights.
The First Amendment protects individual speech from being interfered with or censored by the government, but it doesn’t protect us from being reprimanded by private entities. Like, say, your boss.
This is problematic for people who think they reserve the right to have their speech protected regardless of where they’re speaking or posting. As many private citizens and celebrities alike have learned the hard way, if you say something controversial online, you won’t have the FBI knocking your door down, but you better believe you’ll see an immediate response from individuals, corporations, and private organizations with proverbial torches and pitchforks in hand.
Fortunately, most people are learning this lesson. In our first social media conduct survey, about 8% of respondents admitted they criticized their employer or coworkers on social media. This year, just 6% said the same.
You speak your brand
It’s strange to think of yourself as a brand, but in our White Label SEO universe, we’ve learned that many digital marketing lessons can be applied to you personal digital life. Think of your favorite brands. They have social media channels that present their company in the voice they want to be heard by the public. The goal is consistency of message to everyone who might be listening. In the same way, how you present yourself online will affect how people think of you, and the stakes are very real. The government isn’t standing by, waiting for your favorite fast food restaurant to tweet something offensive. But the 1.9 million people who follow them will care, and they’ll direct their responses and business accordingly.
Social media is changing the English language
With each passing year, more of us drop the pretense that proper grammar is necessary on social media. In fact, the digital communication technology we use is changing grammar and the English language for good. Not only are people more likely to “frequently” use misspellings, slang, and text abbreviations on social media, but the number of people who say they “never” use these verbal shortcuts has dropped by 5%.
How will the cookie continue to crumble?
Social media is a valuable source of the information we see and digest on a daily basis. Oftentimes, this source has to be scrutinized such that appropriate conclusions may be made from a place where quite literally anything can be said. Most importantly, we’re going to need to see an increase in the care we take in posting, sharing, and exercising our right to free speech.
Social media norms are changing fast, and as they do, silence is the friend who will never betray you. Billions of people exercise their perceived right to free speech, but a very wise few exercise the sound of silence.
Sourced From: Hubshout
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