Social Media Safety
We all know that social media can be fun and is of fantastic value for business. We can reach out to clients and potential prospects in ways we could never imagine ten years ago. However, being able to share information so quickly has its pitfalls:
That reach is so easy and that reach is also global. Because of this we need to consider the wider online world and the consequences that sending an inappropriate post or status update might have. One tweet or status update can make its way across the globe within seconds.
Be wary of allowing employees to post confidential business insights or information via their personal social media accounts. This could cause damage to your brand or corporate reputation or a result in a loss of competitive advantage. Does your business have a known social media policy for employees? Does everyone know what the rules are? Flexibility is key. It’s a great idea to have your team posting on social media about your business insights. However, make sure the relevant people have access to the official accounts and know what the rules are. This is where a content plan for your social media can help.
Remember you are searchable
Bear in mind how easy it is for clients and contacts to find your online social media profiles – even your personal ones. One simple Google search of your name can throw up all kinds of information from your social media profiles. Information that you might have thought twice about posting if you’d realised how quickly it could be seen by strangers.
Consider your profile pictures, and videos that your friends share. Many companies routinely view current or prospective employees’ social networking pages before or during the interview process. This lets them gain a ‘truer’ insight into people’s personalities beyond the stylish CV that they’ve been presented with.
App access angst
Consider how third party apps might be accessing your data on social media platforms such as Facebook. In a recent case, an app that gave you a pretty picture of your most used words on Facebook, was also found to gain access to your contact details, profile photo, general photos, home town, complete friends list and even your IP address:
Using social media for business is a great way of quickly building engagement and conversation with customers. However, social media allows customers to lodge a complaint quicker via your social media channels than using traditional email or telephone routes. It’s important to address these complaints quickly and gain a satisfactory result before negative stories about your business are quickly spread and get out of hand. Again, easy access and speed of social media can work both ways – both positively and negatively.
As we’ve mentioned above, social media is a great way for businesses and brands to engage with their customers. This is especially true in the consumer market. By using a hashtag it’s easy to set up a campaign, share special offers with customers and build brand awareness.
When setting up such a hashtag campaign, your hope is that customers will engage in a positive way – but this depends on your brand. For example McDonalds set up a campaign using the hashtag #McDstories, hoping to promote positive stories from its supplier chain. Inevitably the hashtag was hijacked by the general twitter public to share stories of bad service and terrible hygiene that people had experienced in their restaurants.
“One time I walked into McDonalds and I could smell Type 2 diabetes floating in the air and I threw up. #McDStories”
Before you assume that the general public will warm to your campaign – think about the type of business you are and whether this IS the best channel for you to take.
Issues of ambiguity
Across the different social media platforms, there are different ways of ‘liking’ or ‘favouriting’ someone’s post. LinkedIn has a blue ‘thumbs up’ a bit similar to Facebook. Instagram has a heart symbol (but still calls it a ‘like’ rather than a ‘love’!) Twitter used to have a star symbol, to favourite a tweet, but then changed it to a heart symbol – I think they thought users would be confused about what a star symbol meant.
I find misunderstandings and ambiguity can occur with the inappropriate click of a ‘like’. We’ve yet to have anything such as a ‘dislike’ option on any of these platforms. I’ve seen cases where someone has written an update on Facebook for example – telling people that a close relative has passed away, then friends have started ‘liking’ the post! Does this mean that they ‘like’ the fact your relative has died? By ‘liking’, is their intention actually to say, ‘we’re really sorry, our thoughts are with you’? If someone posted an image on Instagram of them in hospital with their arm in plaster after a cycling fall – would you hit the ‘heart’ symbol or is it better to leave a caring comment instead? I think in this kind of scenario, it’s safer to comment on a post, so you can say exactly what you mean – leaving no room for misunderstanding.
On a platform such as LinkedIn, the updates and blog posts are generally more professional, less personal and more positive. In this case it’s possibly easier to give a ‘like’, but if in doubt I’d give a quick comment instead.