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February 2015

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Social Media: 4 Ways Your Message Is Unprofessional

Written by , Posted in Business, CSR, Sustainability, Technology

Cell phone where you will find social media apps.

Social Media: 4 Ways Your Message Is Unprofessional

 

What are you telling your prospective clients by your social media communication?

You’ve heard the saying that a picture is worth a thousand words, right? Do you understand the mechanics of that statement?

Humans are defined by the experiences that we’ve had, the decisions we’ve made and the things our parents and neighbours have taught us. Through life, we build ourselves a view of the world. That view is called a schema, described as a mental structure of preconceived ideas. In practical terms, when it comes to pictures or experiences, we fill in the gaps of what we can’t see and sometimes overlook what is actually there with our schema by making assumptions. Good and bad, these assumptions and preconceptions guide us in the decisions we make. Though they may be similar, everyone’s schema is unique and as such what I see in a picture may not be the same as what you see.

When it comes to operating a sustainable business however, you as the vender, have to make sure that your picture isn’t saying something to me that I don’t agree with. When I make that assumption and become biased against you for something minor or innocuous, a thousand or even two thousand words won’t be enough to truly explain what you were doing. You will have lost my business even before I purchased your product or service and these days with the advent of trial by social media, you could lose far more than you can afford.

You know you’ve seen someone falsely accused and before they’ve had time to defend themselves, the social media worlds of Twitter and Facebook have condemned them. We will never hear their side of the story and in fact there are quite a few people who’ve voluntarily shut down their social media accounts so they wouldn’t have to deal with the harassment. Want to see the effects of that harassment on social media? Look up Gamergate.

Does this mean you should stop being you? Certainly not, just be prepared for the consequences of your actions. You’ve likely heard of many employers firing employees for what they’ve said on Facebook or perhaps the girl who was fired before she started because of a single tweet that she sent out. These days, employers check out your Facebook before hiring you. Well, Ms. employer, do you think your savvy customers aren’t doing the same?

So, what are some of the things we’re doing, our body language and the choices we make, saying to our customers? In part two and three I will be discussing your attire and your body language, but for now, let’s explore what you’re saying and not saying with your social media accounts.

Now, I’ll be the first one to stand up and defend you if you’re wronged because of something you said on social media when you were young and stupid. We all did it. But if that was last week then I may have to take a few steps away. The thing about the internet age, however is that nothing truly disappears. Blogs stick around forever, Tweets get retweeted, Facebook quotes are shared and commented on. People read them. Granted, often enough, those people who are turned off may be reading your comments without perspective, but in the split second after they read the post, will you be there to explain why you said it?

Not likely. If your settings allow for it on Facebook, your life is literally an open book, allowing perspective clients to go back years and Twitter saves your last 3200 tweets. Can they condemn you for one misstep? Certainly. Do you want them as customers? Maybe not. Can you afford more people to see the same comments on that social media app or others? Not likely, especially when you have the chance to correct your behaviour now so people can have context that what you said or did was seven years ago. You’re not the same person as you were back then, but more often they don’t know and may not care.

Pictures

Whether it’s a picture you’ve endorsed or one you’ve sent yourself, you can sometimes end up supporting a cause or person you didn’t realize you should have. Unliking it may not be an option and sometimes it’s too late.

Pictures of you are the easiest thing to be condemned for and you don’t even have to be the one to take them. Shaking someone’s hand? Standing beside a criminal? Unlikely perhaps, but you can easily be betrayed as a villain and that doesn’t even touch on those pictures of you drinking last week. It might seem like a silly picture at the time, but that comment about, “Getting drunk on Friday night,” isn’t so funny when you have to look someone in the eye on Monday.

Posts

I mentioned supporting a cause that may not be the best thing in the world. Many people believe their Facebook accounts are personal and only their best friends can see them. You set your privacy settings, right? Do you remember that thing you commented on last week? It was the funniest thing and you’re comments were awesome, almost inspiring. They were also sexist, racist and perhaps a little grotesque. And before you share it to all the rest of your social media friends, do remember that your customers may not see you in the same light afterwards.

Tweets

Sometimes you didn’t mean it that way, but I wonder how many tweets are edited before they get posted. I can tell you, I had to repost something this very afternoon. Mind you, I edited the word “an” instead of “am”. I’ve seen some pretty terrible Freudian slips all because of autocorrect on cell phones. “Check out my new boobs … er I mean boots.”

Sometimes you just can’t take it back fast enough. Retweeting can sometimes have a terrible end as well. It isn’t just about retweeting the wrong tweet, but a lot of them. Auto-retweeters and auto-responders can pick up on some of the worst tweets and suddenly you’ve unleashed hell on yourself.

Email

Just ask Sony how private emails are. Telling the respondent not to share the email just doesn’t seem as confidential anymore and take backs don’t have the same effect. Verbal diarrhea has no place in email, whether they’re personal or business related.

To make your business sustainable you’re social media marketing program has to be consistent. You can’t afford to have a secret life of debauchery or ignorance. Your customers will see it and while some of them will ignore, and some will agree, some will not agree and those who don’t will voice their opinions either by walking out the door or by a more vocal tactic. Sadly, it’s too bad we don’t teach this to our children a little more because it starts young as children get smart phones at a much younger age these days. Sharing can sometimes be oversharing.

As a business person, you need to think about what message you want to portray and then share those values on all of the social media platforms that you partake in. Whether you use Buffer or Hootesuite or any of the other scheduling programs, you can set your tweets and Facebook posts to go out at the rate you want them to. You can tweet now for the next week if you want. More importantly, you can tweet when you have the time to read the posts and articles that you are endorsing and ask yourself, what would my mother think about this post? I know for certain that’s what I ask myself.

Do you have your own social media blunder you want to share? Perhaps you have other methods of keeping your message on track?