Though social media hasn’t been around for very long, most businesses and brands agree that they are powerful tools in reaching and engaging with one’s audience, when used correctly that is. Some may still think that social media is a fad, but most experts believe that social media is here to stay, and that companies who don’t utilize these platforms are going to be left behind.
The world of social media has truly invaded the business world, and personal brands are also joining the bandwagon, since establishing an online presence on these sites have become vital to their brand. Social media has come to serve a wide array of functions for people and companies, from marketing to recruitment to customer service.
But this is where it gets tricky. Though many businesses have incorporated social media in their campaigns, most of them have not taken the time to establish rules and policies regarding social media usage. This is likely because many of them are only learning about the risks involved in these platforms, which include theft, fraud, invasion of privacy, defamation, and much more.
Even personal brands can be a victim of these things if they don’t start protecting themselves. Majority of people and businesses, however, believe that even though these risks exist, the risks can be mitigated or the benefits far outweigh these risks.
The main problem with social media is the fact that information about you is transmitted through a site other than yours, or basically a third-party company. This results in a loss of control on your part in how these sites use the information you transmitted, and there is the risk of the privacy of that information being breached, perhaps not intentionally.
So how do you protect yourself? As a direct seller or small business owner, what methods can you utilize in order to reduce the risk for your personal brand? Here are some tips:
1. Review social media content regularly
If you’ve incorporated social media into your marketing campaigns, it’s important that you review your social media content regularly. Even if you’re only a small business owner, you can be a victim of fraud or a privacy breach if you don’t monitor your accounts and the contents posted within them. It’s also important that you know how to identify these issues and manage them, or if not, hire someone who does.
Also, regularly monitoring your social media content reduces your risk of defamation as well. As you know, since social networking sites offer real time interaction, many people decide to air out their concerns or complaints regarding your brand right into your Facebook or Twitter account. If you review your content regularly and timely, then you can immediately address these problems so that they don’t balloon into something bigger.
2. Adopt a social media policy
Even a small business owner can benefit a lot by adopting a clear social media policy that lays out all the rules and regulations that need to be followed when using social media. This policy should be consistent with other company policies and values. Most people and businesses agree that adopting a clear policy can really help reduce the risks involved in social media usage.
3. Educate employees on how to use the company’s social media accounts
You may have only a handful of employees at your disposal, but it’s essential that you educate them on how to use the company’s accounts. This could help prevent problems later on. Many people need guidance in this area, especially since social media usage for businesses continues to evolve and adapt to the times. Your employees need to know what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable social media use.
Some businesses have even gone so far as to ban social media usage during work and have even blocked websites to ensure that employees follow this policy. But companies who adopt this can be missing out on a lot of benefits that social media has to offer.
Truly, the best way to reduce the risks of social media usage for your personal brand is to make sure that you monitor your social media content regularly, adopt a social media policy, and educate those who work for you on what is appropriate when using these sites. The clearer that everything is laid out, the better for your brand. Also, make sure that you know what to do if any problems arise that involves social media usage.
Maria Elena Duron, is managing editor of the Personal Branding Blog, CEO (chief engagement officer) of buzz2bucks.com – a word of mouth marketing firm and Director of Client Communities of Momentum Factor-focused on the direct selling industry. She helps create connection, credibility, community and cha-ching through mobile marketing and social commerce around your brand. She is co-founder of #brandchat – a weekly Twitter chat focused on every aspect of branding.