Social media platforms are amazing – and the apps constantly being developed to aid design, photography, exercise or whatever are simply incredible.

Using social media is a great way to promote your work, and your brand – as well as getting messages out there to people who’re genuinely interested in what you do.  And it can be fun to do – from photography to graphic design – all your own work.

Now, that’s saying a lot, coming from a non-tech-type person like me, but over the years, and with a lot of help from my tech-support, Jess Jones from DotJess, I’ve learned to work with social media and actually enjoy it.

So much so, I’m exploring avenues I would never have thought of going down a few years ago – and I suspect with what’s been happening in the world today, many of us can say the same.  And I’m loving it.

However, there is a downside to all this goodness and light, sharing and caring – and it’s almost uncontrollable.  And if you’re going to dip your toe in these sharing and caring waters, you need to know the downsides as well as all that sweetness and light.

So I tread very wearily and am extremely careful about what I write and post.  Opinion is one thing, outright rudeness and negativity are a different matter.

For example, I’ve usually avoided open group-type forums on the Facebook platform, mainly because the few times I’ve posted, there have been unusual comments – comments that make you think ‘well, what did they actually mean?’  And the worst thing you can do is engage.  It’s best to simply not respond.

But if you’re timid about showing your work for the first time or have just started out, this can knock your confidence for six.

So I was really pleased the other day, not long after I posted something on a group page, to see a post by the group Administrator tackling this problem head-on – and I applaud her for it.  Not only were negative comments being posted on the group page, but DM’s were being used as well to continue the conversation.  Now that’s just not on.

The Administrator reminded members that if they didn’t follow group guidelines, there would be a consequence, and that was exclusion.  Yay.

And what’s really interesting is that a few days after that reminder by the Administrator, I received a message completely out of the blue, not apologising but expressing regret for something written about my work.  So someone took notice.

Just remember, if you put your work ‘out there’, not everyone’s going to like it – that’s a given – but be aware that people may write negatively and even hurtfully, which is inappropriate.  And what’s worse, it seems to encourage others to do the same.

I will post again within that group, but only occasionally, which is a shame as these groups were created for all the best reasons, and there’s some really good work to be seen there.

Caveat emptor – it’s not just let the buyer-beware anymore – it’s being aware of what social media is capable of – positively and negatively.

I post and write carefully, always with kindness.

cathy jack coupland