Using social media is a great way to build relationships with current and potential clients. Using social media is also a great way to insult and alienate those with whom you work or would like to work. And you might not even realize you are doing that!
Recently, a title service provider, who was after me to use her company’s services, sent me a friend request on Facebook. She’s a nice woman, very fun and friendly. I had met her in my office numerous times. I heartily accepted. Her posts offered a combination of work event invites, fun personal photos, industry news, holiday recipes and such.
One day she posted a rant about someone who cut her off in traffic that day. Not the best use of relationship-building, but we all have those days. Her blunder was her ending comment. It was something to the effect of “No wonder that driver is such an idiot, she had a “Vote for (insert politician name here)” sticker on her car. What a moron!”
Wow. The fact that I had voted for that particular politician wasn’t that big of a deal to me. The fact that she feels those who did are morons and idiots, though, is concerning.
Did I take her rant personally? Not really. Do I want to take my business to someone who would think and say that? No. The problem is that she exhibited a lack of judgment. It would be one thing if she was a high schooler who shares each and every thought, feeling and slight online. But this is a thirty-something sales manager who has been in her position for more than ten years. Yikes!
This seasoned professional surely doesn’t realize that she just called half of her current and potential clients idiots and morons. If a businessperson wants to use social media to connect with and grow business relationships, some personal posting guidelines should be in place. A good strategy would be to use the social media account in question exclusively as a business “fan page” and to only post business-related info.
Some of us would like to connect with our clients and readers on a bit more of a personal level. That tack is not impossible on a business page, but it requires a higher level of vetting what one posts and shares. A fun vacation photo of you and your significant other, your Christmas tree with your dog sitting in front of it, or you handing over keys to your buyer’s new home is a great way to humanize what you do and who you are. All of these types of posts invite those who see your business page a way to get to know you, even before they meet you in person.
That isn’t a bad thing, but good sense must prevail. The security and creeper factor is real, and it’s wise to use caution when sharing photos and information about your children, your vacation travel dates and other personal details. Some might assume that older users would realize this, but from what I have seen, all ages struggle with what is suitable to post on social media.
Inappropriate behavior, revealing photos and over-sharing crosses the age divide. I cringe when I see women of any age posting selfies in which they are wearing a low-cut blouse or a short skirt. Sure, they might look great, but what are they selling? Is this how one wants to attract new clients?
If someone wants to use Facebook for personal ranting, offensive diatribes, beer pong and cleavage pictures, it’s best to make it a personal, private page and keep the privacy settings as locked down as possible. And don’t send friend requests to work colleagues, just your beer pong friends.
As professionals, we should be vigilant if we are going to use social media to build our business and relationships. Before you hit the “post” button, stop and think about what you are saying and showing and who is going to read it. Once it is out there, you cannot really get the post, or your reputation, back again.
Lorelei Taylor works in the design, estate service and real estate business in sunny San Diego.