Whether you love it or hate it, social media is here to stay in your personal and professional life. Use continues to increase each year with over 3 billion people using social networks around the globe. Many people use social media as a way to connect with friends, family, and even great Aunt Ethel who they haven’t seen in years.
Business owners are always looking for new strategies for promoting a happy, healthy workplace. You might consider social media as a way to connect with new customers, influencers in your market, and even keep an eye on your competitors. All of this sounds great, right? There are a few downsides to social media in the workplace that you need to consider before creating accounts on all the major platforms and developing a robust social media strategy for your business.
The Upside to Social Media
Think back to when you first opened your business. There were a few necessary items you needed, such as a name, logo, strategy, and a bank account. For many people in business today, a social media strategy is high on the list of business essentials for several reasons.
Building Brand Awareness
Social media helps build your brand awareness and attracts new customers. From the colors you choose for your logo to taglines, creating consistent marketing on social media platforms can boost your reputation and increase credibility. However, it’s not only about posting images of your products. Sharing pictures and quirky captions can help potential customers get to know you and connect with the human side of your brand.
The more you post, the more likely you are to connect with your audience, spur sales, and increase traffic to your website. Facebook even allows you to publish live videos where you can share the process of creating your product or host live sales. Instagram and Facebook offer “stories” that allow you to update quickly without adding to your feed. You might even get lucky enough to go viral and gain popularity and success overnight.
Understanding Industry Standards
Being on social media isn’t only about your customers. It’s about your growth as a business professional, too. Entrepreneurship can be lonely, but with the use of social media, you can follow the top influencers in your industry as a way to keep your finger on the pulse of the market.
Keeping Tabs on the Competition
A bonus of being on social media is the ease with which you can follow competitors. Keeping track of their products and sales might reveal any pain points they experience which can help you get ahead and even win new customers.
Social media isn’t all good, especially for businesses. Think about news stories where poor customer service, racially-infused situations, or packaging faux-pas hit social media outlets in large numbers. Here are a few specific ways social media can cause damage.
Viral video followings aren’t always for positive press. You might think, “Well, that can’t happen to me because I’m just a small company.” Keep in mind that it’s not your following that matters in the face of negative publicity, but the size of the audience that one dissatisfied customer might have. Brands like Starbucks, Dove, and American Airlines have seen the fall-out caused by negative social media.
What if the customer doesn’t name your company? Well, your chances might be a bit better to walk away unscathed. However, even if a customer doesn’t identify your business by name, you might not be out of the woods. Social media risks can be hidden in features such as check-in sites or tagged photos showing geographical locations.
Around 77 percent of all small businesses in the U.S. use social media. Have you considered the severe negative impact to your business if someone gained access to your accounts? If you’re not taking the time to become thoroughly familiar with the technology and social media platforms you are using, you could be setting yourself up for disaster. Without proper protections, hackers could send out compromised links to your followers, steal your account or change your handle, and even solicit personal information from your customers.
Just as social media can boost your ability to give a unified brand, it can create confusion if you’re not good at being consistent across all platforms. This can be as simple as having different color or fonts to not sharing the same information on each site.
Behind the Times
If you’re not on social media, you run the risk that your customers view you as someone who’s slow to adopt current ways of communication. This can limit your reach and cause people to change their view of your company.
Mental Effects of Social Media
Social media and well-being is a hot topic. With people suffering comparisonitis and preoccupation with online impression management, social media can get a bad reputation. Many millennials struggle with the fear of missing out or “FOMO” when they spend too much time monitoring the posts of others and not enough time living their own lives. This can bleed into the business world as well. Trying to stay ahead of your competition’s every move can increase your risk of feeling unsettled, unhappy, and might even trigger anxiety or depression.
So, What’s the Answer?
Every business owner has to take the pros and cons of social media into consideration. There isn’t one right answer to using social media. Develop a strategy that meets your unique business needs, maximize the benefits, and minimize the risks to get the most of your social media presence