Can social media be a bad thing?

Social media. We all hear lots of positive things about it. How Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ or Pinterest have transformed a business and added significant figures to the bottom line. But have you ever wondered about the downsides? If you´re thinking about taking the plunge you might be wondering if using social media ever backfires? Or can simply be a waste of time? Let´s take a look at how to avoid the pitfalls.

Be social

The clue is in the name: social media. If you set up a Twitter feed or Facebook page you need to keep it up-to-date and interact with your followers. Reading and listening can be very useful, but no one knows you´re there! You need to comment and talk too. This is especially true if you start getting negative comments. If someone lets you know on Twitter or Facebook that they´re not happy, you´ve got the perfect opportunity to engage with them and demonstrate good customer service. Not only will you be helping them, you´ll also be showing other people that you´re proactive and really care. Ignore them at your peril!

Be sensible

Social media is all about being personable. But that doesn´t mean sharing everything. Think very carefully about mixing your personal and professional social media presences. You can set up a Facebook page for your company and keep it completely separate from your personal page. It means your customers don´t see your holiday snaps and your friends don´t see your thoughts on that industry article. Google+ offers a smarter way of separating personal and professional – you decide what you post to who.

Be careful

You may remember McDonald´s getting into Twitter hot water earlier this year. They started using a hash tag #McDStories to share heartwarming stories about their suppliers and staff. Unfortunately, it was hijacked by customers with less than heartwarming stories about bad experiences they´d had involving McDonald´s food. The moral? Think carefully about what you post and how it could be interpreted.

Be positive

There´s a customer service cliche, “take every complaint as a gift”. This is definitely true when it comes to social media. If people post on Twitter or Facebook about you, you can do something about it and preserve your reputation. If they complain about you to their friends in the pub, you don´t know about it and there´s nothing you can do.

If you want to find out more about social media, a Rather Inventive workshop is a great place to start.


Catherine Every at EveryWord
Visit her website or follow her on Twitter