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Is Social Media Hurting Your Online Business?

Posted by on Dec 6, 2008

As all of you know by now, we had a presidential election this year. It was a major event that, for the first time that I can remember, got more social media attention than at any other time in history, mainly because of sites like Twitter and Facebook.

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Because I’m an independent consultant, I knew that I wanted to protect my overall business by not going too far in saying things one way or the other. And I did just that sort of thing until, near the day of the election, I came across this racist video of a small town in Ohio that literally set me off. Even then, I kept my anger in check by only discussing the issue that the video has brought up and nothing else; I couldn’t be faulted for confronting racism when I see it.

During the last few weeks leading up to the election, I saw some things on Twitter that really blew my mind. There were many hateful things said about both candidates, and as long as things stayed on political topics, I didn’t mind. However, when it got personal and racist and downright insulting, that’s where I drew the line. Instead of participating in the hate, for the most part, I just stopped following certain people. The thing is, some of those people were pretty big names, people whose blogs I read and who’s sites I’d visited; one of them I’d even bought a product from. But it was over; I’d lost respect, and it wasn’t coming back.

Facebook is a different animal from Twitter, and yet it’s still social media. There are people who will “friend” you, and sometimes you decide to go ahead and allow it to happen, even if you’re not sure. Most of the time it turns out to be fine, but sometimes, you see people exhibiting behavior that just drives you nuts. People put pictures of themselves on Facebook, which can be fun, but there’s certain behavior that will get people thinking of you in negative ways. I’ve heard the arguments that people should be able to do whatever they want on their own time, and that those “few” acts of indiscretion shouldn’t count against you.

Well, trust me, they do. I remember years ago going to a local networking event and meeting a woman who obviously had too much to drink, and continued drinking, even after her husband showed up. Her spitting in my face and constant touching me certainly didn’t make me a fan of her or her organization, which is one of the largest local bank chains in my area, and I knew that I would never go into her branch again; truthfully, I’ve never ended up going to any of the branches of her chain except one, and that’s only because a friend of mine works there, and I sometimes meet her for lunch.

On Facebook, it might not only be pictures. People will badger you with stupid stuff over and over, and to get away from it you finally just drop them and move on. Luckily, Facebook allows you to drop people without notifying them. Twitter is the same way, although some people have gotten around that by signing up for something, the name of which I can’t remember, but it tells people who’ve stopped following them. Why anyone would want to know when people drop them is beyond me, since there’s nothing they can do about it anyway.

It prompts me to wonder whether many people are cognizant of things they may be doing that may be hurting their business in some way. For instance, going back to Twitter, there was one lady who probably wrote at least 200 posts on Twitter a day, many times one after the other, and I finally had to drop her because it was taking away my enjoyment of the site. She’s actually quite popular, but knowing the type of person she really is has made me decide not to deal with her in any form anymore. There was someone else whose blog I used to enjoy reading, but then he decided to go after someone on Twitter over the course of a few days, and that turned me off and made me go in another direction.

As you look at your websites, and your blogs, do you think there are things there that might be turning off the wrong people? I know a few people have complained about the advertising on my blog, for instance, but this is an internet marketing blog, my intentions have always been well known as far as my intention on trying to make money with this blog, and I talk about all the things that one eventually sees on this blog, so it’s also a testing site. Yet, the majority of my visitors know what I’m doing, are interested in the same types of things, and y’all keep coming back for more (and don’t think I don’t appreciate it either; thanks folks).

But the one thing no one can say about me is that they saw me say anything inappropriate, or show or do anything inappropriate, on a social media site. I tend to be very cognizant of my image; not everyone is. Ask yourself this question today; are you hurting yourself publicly in ways you’re not intending to?


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5 Comments »

One of the things I’ve learned as a veteran journalist is the words you use can have a lasting impact.

I was one of those people who got caught up in the frenzy of this political season, although I tried to be very mindful of what kind of comments I would display. One blog I wrote: “The Difference Between Sarah Palin’s Daughter & Mine” was probably as “off color” as I got in talking about the issues but that was more about handling teenage pregnancy from a white privileged perspective versus being an African-American in the same boat.

And yes–I did circulate the video you refer to because, quite frankly, I was so shocked that there were people in my HOME STATE who thought like that. I thought that attitude was reserved for rural southerners ONLY.

I dropped several followers during and AFTER the election because some people were blatantly upset that their candidate didn’t win and said some pretty horrible things.

As a journalist—I write—I write about the issues and I write editorial commentary. Not everyone is going to agree with me but I (when I am serious) hope I write in such a manner that my opinion is at least respected. It’s a fine line to walk on. Not many people do it well.

Does social media hurt your business? It can if you lose your focus. If you feel the need to make political statements and have an opinion about everything–not many people will be able to get past that to see your business. You know it’s like: not being able to see the forest for the trees.

This is an excellent post. May I post it on Boomer Diva Nation?

Beverly MahoneĀ“s last blog post..Baby Boomer Men Need Help This Holiday

December 6th, 2008 | 1:42 PM
Mitch:

I’m glad you liked the article, Beverly, and your comment is thought provoking as well. It’s disconcerting how shocking it can be when someone you’ve interacted with turns out to NOT be what you thought they’d be, isn’t it? Still, online, it’s easy to drop and move on.

December 6th, 2008 | 5:35 PM

Mitch,
Good thoughts… In fact, if overdone, the social media really spoil your mood and raise your blood pressure. Thank god, I stopped doing most of it. I use twitter only to talk about things that affect my blog.

I know, this whole presidential election was overdone on twitter and so was (for indians) the last weeks’ Mumbai terror attacks.

One pattern I am noticing is that a lot of youngsters and teenagers rule this new platforms and very few matured individuals are around there. So their tone and opinions could be always something that we aren’t used to much.

As for your title, I would never let the social media overtake me or my business.

Cheers, Ajith

December 6th, 2008 | 1:49 PM
Mitch:

Thanks for your comment, Ajith. I think for Americans the presidential election really was a big topic, and last week’s problems in India were worldwide news, and both deserved the amount of attention they got. However, some people took the time on both to show hatred in some fashion, and that crosses the line, and if you’re in business, it will be affected in some fashion.

As for age and the like, almost everyone I follow is older, so to speak, so I don’t notice the youth as much on Twitter. Facebook is a different matter, I’d agree.

December 6th, 2008 | 5:38 PM
Mitch:

That’s for sure, Dennis. Just last night there was this major row over an insensitive remark that the food critic for one of the Chicago newspapers wrote on Twitter that has probably hurt his reputation greatly.

December 7th, 2008 | 4:27 PM