The increasing ubiquity of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs and other venues, business owners and their employees present numerous opportunities to sabotage your businesses’ revenues.
“With social media, you can be vapid, boring and annoying with alarming frequency,”Patricia Vaccarino, owner of a Seattle public relations firm, warned clients in a newsletter.
Vaccarino said many of her Facebook friends have posted “in great detail about their colonoscopies, dead teeth pulled, dead dogs, flatulence, adult acne, marital breakups, battles with mental illnesses and drinking problems.” Is this how you’d like your company to be represented?
Finding a picture online of a company executive smoking what appeared to be pot, could be roadblocks to making and keeping customers – especially in a recessionary economy.
It is a trivial exercise for your customers and prospective customers to connect your company’s representatives and their online twittering and posting. While you should not restrict the freedom of expression of your employees, you may wish to have a conversation with them about the potential disastrous effect on your organizations revenue from, for example, a severely off-color jokes that had posted dealing with race and gender. Even an innocuous posting may cause issues.
Lawyers are finding potential treasure troves of unsavory details online. A seemingly routine slip-and-fall personal injury case “…started out as an average personal-injury lawsuit. It ended with instructions for making a marijuana pipe out of a sausage and a surprising lesson about how what you write on the Internet can come back to haunt you.” (How You’re Unknowingly Embarrassing Yourself Online (and How to Stop))
Unfortunately, users have discovered that it is nearly impossible to remove themselves entirely from some popular social networking websites such as Facebook.
“It’s like the Hotel California,” said Nipon Das, 34, a director at a biotechnology consulting firm in Manhattan, who tried unsuccessfully to delete his Facebook account this fall. “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.” Mr. Das was able to do so, only after a lengthy correspondence with Facebook and threats of legal action.
Business owners should take time to Google themselves and their company to be aware of what’s being said – good and bad. Weed out any posts on forums or networking sites that are offensive and counsel your key employees to do the same.