The flu has been rampant this year – if you weren’t sick yourself, it is likely that a child, friend or colleague of yours came down with the nasty virus. And it’s also likely you heard about the flu on social media – from posts about people who failed to cover their cough or sneeze on the subway to photos of hand sanitizer and Clorox® Disinfecting Wipes friends stocked up on to help stay healthier.
Constant, real time updates have become a part of daily life and it seems social media plays a role in everything we do. Knowing everyone turns to social media for information and entertainment, Clorox developed the #WTFlu Tumblr page to raise awareness about flu prevention, with a sense of humor.
To help avoid a #WTFlu moment of your own, below are some of my DOs and DON’Ts for logging onto social media when you’re sick.
1. Do: Ask for a little digital sympathy. Being authentic and genuine is the key to social media engagement, especially when you’re sick. Saying you’re under the weather, without over-complaining, will result in many digital get-well messages. Who knows, you might start feeling better sooner. A dose of digital medicine goes a long way.
2. Don’t: Update your progress hourly. People will feel sympathy towards you when you’re not feeling well, but avoid being the “Drama-Queen” or “Donnie Downer” by limiting how often you share every ailing moment on social media networks to once or twice a day. More than that and you’ll get un-friended as fast as a digital heartbeat. Are you an over-sharer and need to chat about being sick more often? No problem. Head over to Twitter and join the larger ongoing conversation. Search for others who are sick and you may just make some new friends and be in good company.
3. Do: Remember misery loves company. So you’re home and sick in bed. Find out who else is under the weather so you can have a digital pen pal to commiserate with about your symptoms. Notice that someone else is ill? Jump in and let them know you feel their pain. Fever gone? That’s great news worth sharing. Throat still scratchy? Ask your buddy for a few sore throat remedies. Be happy you can chat online, since the phone is off limits for a while.
4. Don’t: Forget to check your privacy settings. Public or private? Before going into details about your illness, check your privacy settings. If you’re friends on Facebook with co-workers or your boss, they won’t be interested in the details of your runny nose. Worse yet, a friend-of-a-friend might share that less than flattering photo of you sneezing with those who don’t have your best interests in mind. Ask yourself, “Am I fine with absolutely everyone seeing this photo or update?” If not, don’t press the send button. You can’t take it back.
5. Do: Be careful about your check-ins. Let people know that you’ll be off the grid for a few days if you’ve got the flu or are feeling ill. But, don’t then check in to your favorite hot spot on FourSquare or Facebook Places after you pick up your prescription or chicken soup. Your sympathy card might just suddenly expire.
6. Don’t: Show up offline. There’s nothing wrong with staying online to feel connected to your friends. But don’t complain about being sick looking for sympathy online and then show up to work or a party you just can’t miss. Your personal appearance shouldn’t include walking to a boardroom meeting with tissues overflowing your pockets or sneezing over your best friend’s appetizers she spent days preparing.
7. Do: Know that laughter is the best medicine. When you see someone else has the flu or is under the weather, send a tweet with a funny joke or a witty quote to brighten up his or her day. If you’re the one feeling ill, say something funny like, “I’m feeling pretty hot today…with my 102 degree fever.” Friends will appreciate your humor.
8. Don’t: Post photos looking your worst. Everyone loves sharing photos on their favorite social networks. However, you should think twice before you post a photo while you’re sick and aren’t looking your best. Every time you post a picture, remember you’re creating a permanent digital footprint. It can be saved, shared, or even show up in the Library of Congress. You don’t want that to come back to haunt you when you’re back on your feet and looking like yourself again.
9. Do: Ask for flu remedy tips. Remember the days you asked mom for the name of the cough syrup that works best or where to buy a humidifier? We still trust the advice of our family and friends the most, and these days the people we trust are just a click away. Take advantage of the real time response you get when communicating via social media. Post a question asking how to get rid of a sore throat or how to make your aunt’s famous chicken noodle recipe.
10. Don’t: Forget to run those remedies by your doctor. As well-intentioned as your friends’ advice may be, you should always check to make sure that your doctor is on-board with any at home remedies before trying them. They know your medical history and can help avoid any unpleasant or dangerous side effects or interactions with other medicines you might be taking.
If you are posting about being sick, be sure to share your #WTFlu moments on Twitter with the #WTFlu hashtag. Clorox will be picking the best submissions and sending flu care packages to help get you through it!
I am working with Clorox as a paid spokesperson for their #WTFlu program. All opinions and tips are my own.