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The Pearls and Perils of Social Media

19 February 2019

Social media image on mobile phone

Social Media: it’s a massive part of peoples lives nowadays, both personal and professional.  It has become so big that some people are using it without even realising they are on it.

In my life, I use it more in my career than I do in my personal life, but this means that I use it at a higher risk as surely one mistake could be career killing.  But, let’s be honest, no matter what form of social media or in what walk of life you’re using it: if you post something bad, it can be detrimental!

Ok, some Social media facts about me:

  • My Facebook exists but I rarely post to it, in fact Facebook sent me a video of my 2018 year and it had 3 photos in it, but I do use it for keeping in touch with people.
  • I don’t have Instagram
  • Twitter, I have but I use it more as an information tool
  • LinkedIn, I use it and I am regularly contributing on it

Social media fascinates me. There is so much that it can be used for but there are so many Pit falls. I thought I would highlight some Pearls and Perils to look out for when posting to any of the social media formats.

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Let’s kick off with a Pearl:

Its FREE! Did you hear me? It’s FREE! Well… in the sense that you don’t have to pay a subscription, you may end up paying at the other end dependent on your content, but we will cover that under a Peril. Yes, most social media platforms allow free use which means if a person or company builds up a good network then they can advertise and promote themselves or their products for free.

Peril

I’ll start with a light Peril, Grammar Police. This is more for companies and individuals using it for business purposes. Make sure your spelling and grammar is good, otherwise the ‘Grammar Police’ will come out in force. An amazing example of an Epic fail was when the US department of Education sent out a tweet quoting W.E.B. Dubois but misspelled his name. They immediately retracted and issued an apology for their mistake, but unfortunately misspelled apologies as apologise. This wouldn’t really flag for most users and companies but if you are the Department of Education you need to highlight that you can spell!
I often tell my legal clients to keep an eye on this as people expect Solicitors to be on top of the detail!

Pearl

SPEED! Instant updates, instant adverts, instant contact. Companies can reach their customers immediately with updates, changes or anything else they need to inform them about. Before social media, to run something in a paper took a lot of time and a television advert could take months. Social media has opened the door for much faster contact.

Peril

Quality checking. Here is the issue with Speed, in the old days, anything that a company sent out to the world will have had many eyes view it before it hits the public. In the social media age, this is not always the case, and this is when major problems arise. There have been some recent major blunders by some of industries biggest companies when it comes to content.

Snapchat

They are a Social Media App but they themselves made a massive blunder with the following advert trail on their app:

 

Snapchat blunder showing rhianna and chris brown

 

The sensitivity surrounding the domestic violence case from 2009 involving Rihanna and Chris Brown had been completely ignored and as you can imagine, this caused mass outrage.  To make matters worse for Snapchat, Rihanna refused to accept their apology.  It is said they lost 1000's of users over this Gaffe. 

Adidas

This blunder needs no explaining and I imagine whoever posted this must have had a strong talking too.

So soon after the tragic events that happened during the Boston Marathon in 2013 Adidas really could have done with an extra set of eyes reviewing their content. 

Adidas, you survived the boston marathon

Pearl 

The lighter side – it allows Companies to show their lighter side and a fun way to make the company more appealing to potential customers and future staff members.  This needs to be heavily caveated with the previous Peril however as content is key, but done correctly, companies can really show themselves in a good light and help build their brand and reputation.  In the legal market, I see some firms really utilise this, showing things like events, charity drives, work nights etc.  It can really bring a human element in to a company and make them much more appealing. 

Peril 

Trolls – Ok, where do I start? Trolling is the real black mark on social media, and it is evident on all mediums.  Thing is, there are different types of Trolls lurking online…

  • The Nasty Troll – These trolls don’t have a reason for hating, they will pick on anyone and everyone online. They will call people names, make accusations, basically saying anything that will trigger a reaction. 
  • The Debater Troll – Simply put they will take someone’s post and come at it from angles in an attempt to undermine the message it is delivering. They will always believe themselves to be right.
  • The F-Bomb Troll - Add very little to any discussion other than a string of swear words… can have tendencies of the Nasty troll about them.
  • The Paid Troll – That’s right! There are Trolls online paid to be Trolls – I know!  What the heck?  But yes, it’s a systematic method by some people and companies that allows them undermine people online.  Remember they get paid by responses so don’t respond!
  • The Spam Troll – You will have seen them they rock in with nonsense like ‘Hey you want to make £75,000 working from home?’ – annoying.
  • The Posting Troll – Ok hands up, who has someone on their Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn who simply post to get reactions out of others? They will post something really controversial and claim it to be for open discussion purposes but its neither appropriate of the medium and if it’s an open discussion, you question why they have given their opinion but made sure it was a controversial one.  This type of post is rampant on LinkedIn and the irony - it turns normal people into trolls as they will comment in harsh terms due to the controversial nature of the subject.  Simply put, this type of Troll is trying to get attention and will stop at nothing to be the centre of attention.  You can identify these trolls, as a normal person would pull back if they faced a backlash for comments, whereas this troll will steer their ship right in to the storm just so that they are once more centre of attention. 

Look, in my opinion Social Media is a great tool for business and people, but it needs to be treated with respect and my advice to all companies is to have a social media policy.  I mentioned this recently to a legal client and they said they had a policy they use but when I asked about postings, networking and marketing they realised this wasn’t covered.  Its an area that all companies need to look at and its an area that needs its own risk assessment and quality checking.  Don’t let social media be your downfall! 

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 Check out Catherine Rushe's article about Sexual Harassment and Social Media

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