Four ways to prevent social media meltdowns

Sylvia Pennington

Social media can be a boon for small businesses looking to make a marketing splash without spending a motza. But building a presence for your company in the social sphere is not without its risks. Ill-advised or inappropriate postings can put a king-sized dent in your corporate image quicker than you can say selfie stick.

So what steps can business owners take to reduce the risk of this happening?

Small business and social media commentator Amanda Rose has some tips to ensure you’re not left red-faced by something you or your staff have Tweeted, Facebooked or Instagrammed.

Adult in charge

Social media is one of your company’s public faces. Given its power and reach, it makes sense to put its management in the hands of a staffer or consultant who’s mature and responsible, if you don’t have the capacity or inclination to handle it yourself.

“Make sure they understand your brand and values,” Rose advises. “Test them for a set time before giving them full access, and always keep an eye on all activity.

Don’t try too hard

A consistent “voice” will give your postings a professional air. Stick to a style you’re good at and one that works for your brand. For some, funny and witty may be the way to go – but only if you can pull it off.

“If you’re not good at it, then social media is not the place to start,” Rose says. “Stick to what you’re good at.”

People can sometimes take it personally when a topic of passion arises on social media, or one that talks about their business.

No shock jock tactics

“Don’t discuss politics and religion” used to be the advice given to those who wanted to sidestep trouble on the dinner party circuit. Small business owners would be wise to take a similar tack when doing the social media thing.

“Don’t touch the electric fence. This is a term developed to mean not covering subjects that are going to invite a zap or a big shock,” Rose says.

“Unless you’re a talkback radio host or it’s your brand to stir the pot, stay away from hot topics that will only result in you ending up in the firing line.”

Stay cool

Your business, your baby – but going on the defensive whenever its name crops up in dispatches in a less than flattering way is not a good idea.

“Being an SME, people can sometimes take it personally when a topic of passion arises on social media, or one that talks about their business,” Rose says.

“Be strategic and think twice before responding. It is sometimes better to be silent.”

Sylvia Pennington

Sylvia Pennington is a Brisbane-based freelance journalist who writes about small business, information technology and personal finance.

Image: Jan Persiel, Flickr Creative Commons license