I am a big advocate for the use of social media. But there are of course some pitfalls.

A couple of years ago one of the candidates (who we thought had a strong record and a great shot to be among those interviewed) to be a Scout executive in my old area was not even considered.  After the meeting we found out that it was because of some 2012 postings on his Twitter account!  Members of the committee had looked at all the candidates’ social media accounts and found that some of the postings did not fit with the culture and values of the council.  In contrast, some of the postings of other candidates did seem to fit and so the committee wanted to interview them.

When deciding among records I too have decided to interview a candidate for a job based on their Facebook page.  What I saw indicated that they were the kind of person I might want on my team and the record and interview bore that out.

in 2015 I was in South Texas making a deposition as part of lawsuit over a wrongful death during a Scout event.  I was not aware of the accident before I was called to testify.  My involvement was as a subject matter expert for unit leader training.

After some basic questions, the attorney for the Scout’s family introduced evidence for the trial including manuals, and newsletters I edited or wrote during my tenure in the training role – and much to my surprise my entire blog and Twitter post history!!

Fortunately, my blog and Twitter were intended from the start to be very public and consisted of thoughts on leadership, inspirational quotes, and retweets of Disney Institute, INC. Magazine, and Harvard Business Review posts.

We believe he was just establishing my background for my deposition and potential testimony, but that he may have intended use the Bible, Baden-Powell, and Waite Phillips quotes I posted to try to convince the jury that some might not always live up to these lofty ideals when it comes to leadership, leadership selection, and leader training.

Fortunately, I was not embarrassed – other than about the small number of Twitter followers I have.

I have no doubt he also looked at my Facebook and LinkedIn pages but thankfully did not find anything he wanted to use.

But Yikes!  To see all your Twitter posts printed with an evidence sticker on it, quickly scanning the pages to see what is there, and answering questions under oath (on video, with a court reporter and two attorneys) about your tweets is an interesting experience to say the least!

I know this is why many of you, and others, do not use social networking.  I am still firmly convinced that social networking has enormous value as a communication and thought-sharing tool. The benefits outweigh the pitfalls if used intelligently.

As with all we write, say, and do, we should be really careful what we post, share, or even “like.”  Even if you consider your pages “personal” (they aren’t!) you can never be sure where they will show up.

You should take a look at your social media if needed and be sure it is something you would not be worried about if it was placed into evidence – or reviewed at a selection committee meeting.

I recently heard someone say that social media lets people know who you really are as a person.  The things you post, or just like, or share can indeed let people know more about you.  When you put it there, even if you consider it a personal account, it is public and they can use it.

Social media can help you and it can hurt you.  I encourage you to use it wisely.