There's no getting away from it. In some way, shape or form EVERY business is connected to the Internet. Doing business in the digital age means digital business touches all business owners and managers, no matter the size, scope or niche of that business. From your web site to your personal profiles on a variety of social media platforms (even those accounts you consider "personal") your actions and reactions are seen by the very people with whom you'd like to do business. How are you coming across? Yes, we all have a right to a personal life and some privacy. However, the advent of social media and the rapid sharing of information requires a set of best practices that take into consideration the very broad reach of digital messages and the vast and varied responses that can result from just one post.
A seemingly innocuous joke or video shared by your college-aged son might seem harmless to you, as you share much the same sense of humor. But will every "friend" on Facebook, every follower on Twitter agree? Have you accepted friendship requests from clients, co-workers, bosses? They are seeing the articles you read, the videos you watch, even the music you listen to (thanks to the popularity of Spotify). Are they all family friendly? Are there any potential biases that might spark conflict? Does an article lean too heavily toward one political ideal, thus possibly alienating potential and/or current clients that might lean the other way? Could the joke you see as family friendly strike someone else as inappropriate? Is there the possibility a less mature audience might come into contact with material better suited to mature minds and eyes.
The potential for pitfalls in social media and digital business might seem great, even daunting or scary. But with best practices, training, policies and carefully communicated strategies and tips, you can maintain a stellar online reputation while building a relationship with your target audience. The goal of social media, as a part of a sound digital business practice, is to humanize your business with the telling of stories in place of sales pitches. Those stories further the relationships that build online word of mouth. You want that word of mouth, though it be of a digital nature, to promote your business in the best light.
Over the next two weeks we're going to discuss the best practices - from post type and frequency to content curation, from app selection and integration to absolutely improper online behavior we see far too often - that will allow your online reputation to remain unsullied as you build lasting relationships with the audience and target market that best suits bottom line.