Social media is a great tool for marketing and staying in touch with people in far away places. Just remember that it can be fraught with danger!
SOCIAL MEDIA CAN BE A MINE FIELD
One of the challenges with social media is that people can’t usually see our faces and body language. That means they only get about 40% of the message. Is that enough to ensure you aren’t misunderstood?
I’ll use a personal example. I wrote a blog in January of 2012 about how great a year 2011 had been and posted it to my Facebook news feed. My reason for 2011 being so great was that in 2010, we almost lost our house, my mother died, my father had a stroke and my son died. In 2011, I had been in a new job for a year, we had managed to save our home with the help of friends and family, my other kids appeared to be getting their lives back on track after losing their brother the year before. When you compare the two, 2011 was a great year.
What I forgot about was that my nephew had died that year.
I received a call from my brother-in-law. He was furious. “How could you say that!”. My wife asked me to take down that blog because of the pain it was causing my brother-in-law and sister-in-law. Although not sorry for what I said, I was sorry for how it made them feel and took the blog down.
If you are going to be active in social media, be prepared to eat some crow once in a while. I’m not saying not to be honest and say what you feel. Just be prepared that not everyone will agree with you and you might bruise some toes once in a while and have to explain yourself.
Social Media and Business
When it comes to business, the challenges are even greater. My brother-in-law might not be happy with what a I said a few years ago but he has forgiven and moved on. We are friends again. That took a couple of years!
In the case of business, prospects and clients aren’t necessarily so forgiving. I’m still married to my brother-in-law’s sister so he was forced to be near me and that gave us a chance to “kiss and make up”. Your followers and customers don’t have to. With a click of a mouse, you are unfollowed. If you are lucky, that’s all. With the power of social media, your followers, prospects and customers have a voice.
Look at Air Canada for example. There was an incident in February of 2017 where a plane had been grounded due to weather. It was midnight and passengers were told there was no food available as everything was closed. A West Jet pilot was in the same airport. He took the initiative to order pizza and came to the Air Canada passengers saying that “‘Hey … I am from WestJet and we do things differently. Who wants pizza?”. Facebook postings went nuts! Lucky for Air Canada, most of the commentary was positive for the West Jet pilot as opposed to directly negative for Air Canada.
Air Canada, to their credit, was quick to apologize and recognize the West Jet pilot for his efforts. Silence could have been deadly. Social media is a mine field. Tread carefully.
By all means, have a voice. Just remember that words matter. Your readers may not have your language as their first language and are interpreting into their context. For example, “I’m going to the park” may translate to “I’m making a trip to the park” in a Latin language. If you’re lucky, your comments translate that well but not always. What if it’s something like “I beat my wife at a game of chess” and it translated to “I played a game of chess with my wife and I beat her”. If English isn’t my first language, I might be concerned you were beating your wife!
Words mean different things to different people. I highly recommend reading The Secret Language of Leadership by Steve Denning. Choose your words carefully but just as important, try to understand how your readers will interpret them.
Make it a great day!