I guess it’s to be expected as more and more people plug into social media, but I’m surprised to see people using social media to shoot themselves in the foot on an almost daily basis. Most of these mistakes are due to inexperience or ignorance, but laziness can also be a factor. I’m not one to advocate endlessly educating yourself before taking action, but in this case it’s important to take just a couple of minutes to understand some basics to keep from making mistakes that could tarnish your reputation online.
Warning: This advice is for professionals seeking to use social media to further their careers. If you’re a bored housewife or stay at home spouse who’s online just for fun, you probably won’t find this helpful.
- Contrary to what many people will try and sell tell you, there are no shortcuts. If you want to make an impact on people and stand out from the masses, you will have to put in work. A lot more work than signing yourself up for “automated solutions”.
- When you “sync”, “authorize” or in some other way provide a 3rd party “access” to your facebook or twitter account through their website (instead of logging on directly with Twitter or Facebook) you are authorizing that 3rd party to post content to your account on your behalf. Do not do this lightly! You might not approve of what they would post there, or how often they would post content on your behalf. If a 3rd party is asking you for access to your social media account, ask yourself how much you really know about that third party and what their potential agenda is. Not to encourage paranoia, but the ratio of websites devoted to providing a valuable service compared to those websites intent on promoting their own self serving agenda through misrepresentation or worse is skewed heavily towards the dirt bags…which brings me to my next point.
- Your potential clients don’t care how good you are, or what you’re doing in “________ Game/Ville”. When a game asks you to “sync” to Facebook or Twitter, that game intends on posting the results of your play on your social media account. So if a potential client looks you up online, do you think they’ll be impressed by your gaming prowess? If I get a spam Direct Message from you inviting me to join you on Mafia Wars, do you think I will have any respect for what you’re doing professionally? I have a Facebook friend who is an Attorney. If I didn’t know he was a good Attorney, and I just looked at his wall comments, I would hire someone who spent less time on FarmVille. If you have a goal of presenting a professional image online and generating business from your online presence, this is a huge no no!
- A little healthy skepticism is a good thing. If you’re being promised thousands of followers or an easy way to automate your social media platforms, or even thousands of hits to your website… stop to look beyond their explanation of how their system works, and ask yourself what would be required for them to deliver on that promise. They might say that all you have to do is “Sign in through Twitter” and “RT _______”. You may not realize that by signing in through twitter, you have given them cart blanche to use your twitter platform to promote their own system. I can tell that a scam has started picking up steam when I start receiving the same automatically generated Direct Message through Twitter from multiple different accounts touting the next great “system”. If I get 20 Direct Messages about “X”, none of the people who’ve messaged me have helped themselves. I consider them to all be spammers. The only party to benefit is “X” because they’re at least successful enough to fool manipulate get people to spam me about their product. Sometimes, when I’m feeling generous, I’ll actually message back the offending party to let them know that they are sending out spam Direct Messages from their account, but very rarely do I get a reply back…which brings me to my final thought.
If you’re going to be lazy, please be lazy offline. Your business will be better for it. If you’ve gotten this far, you’re prepared for some of the sinister stuff that’s out there in social media land, but the offenders keep getting more and more tricky. Lot’s of people are content to set up automated “systems” and walk away and forget about it. Sometimes the very system that is supposed to help, actually is a malicious offender, and even in a best case scenario, it can’t respond when something goes wrong. None of the things I’ve mentioned above are anything to be afraid of. If you even take 5 minutes a week to look at your own twitter page, or facebook wall to see what you’ve put on it, you would be able to spot a problem and correct it immediately. But some people are too lazy to be bothered. If you can’t make the time to do what is required to protect your online image, keep it offline. At least that way others won’t be able to ruin your reputation to advance their own agenda.
Have you been a victim of any other online scams? Do you have any additional advice to professionals just starting out in social media? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section!
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