By: First Union
Social Media Can Ruin Your Business
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Along with the numerous ways social media has been proven to help small businesses, it also can greatly harm it. The good news is, there is a lot that the small business owner can do to prevent this from happening. Whether it be false information, employee misconduct online, or just wanting to be prepared, there are some simple ways you can protect your small business from falling victim to a social media scandal.
Stopping False Information
The most blatant social threat to a small business comes in the form of false information being spread. There is nothing stopping anyone from saying whatever they want online, and this includes information about your business. People love to jump on a scandal, and false information can spread fast online. If you see false information being spread about your business online the best thing to do is confront it head-on. This can happen in a range of ways. Maybe someone tweets that they just stopped by your store and it was closed, when in fact you are open. Simply reply to the tweet from your business account that you are open, you can even share a picture. Stomp out the false information at the root, but keep all replies calm and professional. Whatever you do, don't give in to an online argument, nothing good ever comes of it. If you ever see false information about your company online that is defamatory to you or your business, you may consider seeking out legal help and the information could be taken down altogether. This is a long process and should only be taken against seriously false and defamatory information posted about your business.
Employee Conduct… Online
We all know that you have to select employees that are kind and responsible. You can always observe how they interact with customers and make adjustments to behavior if necessary but what about when it moves online? It may be standard practice to check out someone's Instagram before you hire them these days. But what happens after you hire them? Monitoring your employee's online activity gets into some blurry moral lines. The best practice here is to hire people you can trust. If you can trust them in person, you can probably also trust them online. At the end of the day, they represent your company out in the world, you do need to select these people with some care. During the hiring process, do your part to educate them on what is acceptable online conduct for someone who represents your company. Perhaps a talk during onboarding. If you have trade secrets that need to be protected you may also have employees sign a non-disclosure agreement or an NDA. This means that if they do post sensitive information about your business there could be legal and financial repercussions. This is usually enough to stop someone from posting anything frivolous and make them think twice. While it is important to hire people you trust, both inline and in person, you still have to take all the necessary steps to protect yourself and your business.
Before you can deal with any social media pitfalls, you need to be aware of your online presence. If you have all your social media accounts set up, don't just set it and forget it. Once you send out a post-it leaves the availability for everyone out there to comment on it. Make sure you are monitoring all activity on your social media accounts so you can answer questions correctly and people know you are there. If you can hire someone to run your social media for you, then part of their job will be monitoring this. Remind them to look out for false information being spread and respond to comments. If you do not have the budget to hire someone to do this, it is good practice to check at least once a day. If something bad is happening on one of your posts like false information or arguing, you want to stop it as quickly as possible.
If you do not have someone whose designated job it is to monitor your social presence online, you need to keep an eye on it yourself. The more you post the more you want to monitor. So if social media isn't a huge part of your business, you probably get by checking briefly once a day. If you run the accounts, it is good practice to have them all set up on your cell phone, with notifications turned on. For example, download the Instagram app to your cell phone, then go to settings and make sure you have notifications for the app turned on and are logged into your business account. This way, instead of having to go check for comments at the end of the day you can simply see if you have notifications as they come. Another great way to monitor your online presence is to set up a google alert. Set one up for your business name and any variations. Then if you are appearing anywhere on the web you will get an email about when and where it happened. If you have a more common business name this could lead to getting inundated with emails, but Google has some great settings to help, play around with it until you have an alert set up that works for you.
If your social media presence feels like it's getting too much to handle, it may be time to hire someone to handle it for you. This could be a digital marketing professional or a social media account manager. As your business grows, so will your online presence. It's best to get ahead of it. If you need funds to scale your social media or online presence, First Union Lending can help with a small business loan tailored to you. Click here or call now.