I know that many of you are completely sold on social media and know it’s absolutely necessary for your business. However, I also know there’s many businesses who are very confused and nervous about social media. You’re not sure if it’s useful for your business and even further you wonder if it could be harmful.
Every once in a while there is a big blow up about the dark side of social media, such as the latest eruption with Congressman Anthony Weiner.
This scandal demonstrates the power of social media, but the bigger lesson is that social media is not bad, no more than a gun is bad. The problem is using social media without understanding how to use it—or making a mistake in using it—or using it to do things that are not right. It’s a human issue, not a social media issue.
As you consider using social media in your business there’s several things you should keep in mind to better ensure your use of social media is a thriving success:
- Technology is only a tool. It’s how you use it that matters. Clearly, Congressman Weiner used the tool inappropriately. It was not technology that failed him, it was his choice in how to use technology.
- Be cautious what you do in regard to technology and, especially, social media. Keep in mind that one inadvertent click on your computer can lead to that message going to thousands and millions of others. One e-mail message to one person is not so bad. But one tweet reaches lots of people—fast. Before you click, look.
- When sending anything online understand that the potential for your message to go beyond your intended audience is huge. Send with this in mind. We all use online tools, especially e-mail, to communicate personal and very confidential messages to others. Even Osama Bin Laden knew that the best way to have secure communication was to use no digital communication. As you use digital communication tools you need to be sure it's secure, consider using encryption to ensure that if your communication is intercepted the interceptor will have an almost impossible time reading your message.
Train your employees how to best use social media. Training can be expensive, but it could be well worth it to take a half-day class in online communication. Hire a local social media expert to give you and your staff an overview of how to maximize social media and also what not to do. As your company grows you might want to appoint someone to manage your social media. I interviewed Dell’s social media director here, in fact.