Boosting The Power of Social Media: Taking Risks Without Getting Burned

What have you posted on your social media sites lately? Anything substantial? Anything risky? Anything controversial or challenging that you thought might provoke a response–even a contrary response–from your audience?

A key to engaging with audiences online and encouraging interaction with them is provoking an emotion: making them care.  In the process you reveal something about who you are and what you believe in.  Regardless of the business you’re in, the first thing that your potential customers do when seeking information on products or services they may be interested in is

searching the Internet to check out background information. When they search for you, or your company, by name, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites will be the first results that show up. Let’s hope what pops up makes a good impression. But, if by chance, you’ve posted something embarrassing, unprofessional or just plain awful–even if it was on a site you considered to be your “personal” account–you may risk the chance of not getting the client or opportunity you had hoped for.

There’s no question that the Internet is becoming increasingly powerful in its influence on us. Consider a recent example that hit the news about an 18-year old boy who updated his Facebook status on New Year’s day to boast about a night of drunk driving. He admitted on his update that he hit another vehicle, and even referred to drunk driving as “classic.” Shortly after the post, he was arrested. You can read the full article of his stupidity here.

Chances are the missteps you make will not be quite so egregious. But even seemingly minor comments can generate the ire of others. In your quest to create interest and engagement you certainly want to provoke powerful responses. But, if you’re concerned about protecting your brand–and you certainly should be–you need to make sure that the comments you make are consistent with the image you wish to convey. Whether posting personally or professionally, those comments can come back to haunt you. Social media is not a diary; consider Facebook, Twitter and other sites as opportunities for expressing your opinions (professionally) while keeping key audiences updated on issues that are important to you–and them.

Before you post something again, think to yourself: Who is looking at this? What message am I sending? And finally…would I be comfortable if this post, along with my name, appeared on the front page of the local paper–or was the lead item on the local news?

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