Social Media can be a great marketing channel for businesses and individuals.
The main advantage of social media is its amazing global reach – as you can learn from this infographic, social media can reach billions of people. If you use it well, you can build up brand awareness, drive traffic to your website and increase sales.
However, as with almost anything else there is a flip side. Being exposed to such a large audience, one needs to be very professional when managing social media campaigns and pages. This applies to both; businesses and individuals.
The problem that businesses face in social media circles, regardless of who they are, is other users trying to make fools out of them. The internet thrives on trying to catch out big businesses. So not responding appropriately to any barbs aimed at you can be very harmful indeed. If someone is calling out your products for being bad, for whatever reason, it is important you respond in the smartest way possible. Decide on if a post requires you to deflate (tell them to get in touch, who to email about the complaint), deflect (tactfully point out that the problem has nothing to do with them), or dismiss the situation (the post is designed to make you slip up, and should be ignored). This should steer you clear of the majority of problems that can arise.
There are similar tightropes businesses must walk at the same time though. For one, another surefire way to alienate customers is to over-promote products. The temptation can be, given that you have a direct line to your consumer base, to constantly be posting about your products. But simply put that won’t fly in today’s social media circles. You can, from time to time, do a little advertising, but you need to fill the time in between with engaging content. A good sense of humor within your social media team always helps in this process.
These two mistakes pertain to customers. But businesses are also liable to slip up when it comes to appeasing the all mighty search engines too. Gaining a following on social media can be a long, difficult task, and you may become tempted via shortcuts. The main black market people turn to is buying followers. In the short term, this can help slightly, giving you more chance of ranking for keyword searches based on your social media authority. But long term you will be found out, and Google & the like will punish you for it, just as if you had brought links to your website.
The consequences of unprofessional social media use can be very serious not only for businesses but also for individuals. According to a study from Reppler more than 90% of recruiters and hiring managers have visited a candidate’s social network profile as part of the screening process. It makes a lot of sense – instead of hiring someone based solely on a 15 minute interview and a CV, you can look back through years of their thoughts, opinions and actions, that the candidate has willingly let loose on the Internet.
You may think you are safe as you are only going to a low paying job, or a job that doesn’t involve the Internet at all. But pretty much every employer will have a social media policy, and what better way to see if you are going to stick to it than to see if you have “broken” it in the past? Customer service jobs will be on the look out for anybody who thinks it’s OK to post about customers that have annoyed them.
Being careless on social media can not only cost you a job but according to this article, in some cases it can possibly affect your home insurance claims. The article claims that some insurers check claimants social media profile before making a payout. This is because more and more people constantly post updates on their location making it easier for a thieves to figure out when they are not in their houses.
The real achilles heel though? More often than not, it is images. Posts can be denied – “I didn’t write that”, “That was out of context”, etc. But poorly judged images can get out of hand quickly, and if you are shown on camera, they are impossible to deny as adamantly. Unfortunately, a lot private images have a way of getting out. And with picture based apps like Instagram and Snapchat becoming increasingly popular, this is not a trend that is going to stop. There are plenty of guides on how to use these apps correctly, but the main tip is just to use common sense. If you wouldn’t want other people seeing the image, don’t take it in the first place!
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