Nothing is private on the Internet. Small business owners need to be conscientious not only regarding their business accounts, but also their personal web presence. Social media sites now reveal absolutely everything about what you do online — including things that you might rather keep private.

Everything on a Social Media Site Is Just a Google Search Away

When dealing with a business, many customers prefer to know exactly who they are dealing with. Not only will they search for the business, but they may also search for the business owners as well. This will bring up any social network that you’re a part of; they automatically report to the major search engines. When you’re a business owner, your personal views and your personal life aren’t just personal. They also inform customers and investors regarding whether or not they want to do business with you. Likewise, it’s easy for in-jokes or references between family members and friends to be construed the wrong way when visible to the public.

Many Social Media Apps Integrate Personal Data

On LinkedIn, your personal accounts are your professional accounts — and anything that you post is going to be associated with your professional life. But on LinkedIn that is fairly obvious. It can be more unclear when you’re dealing with social media marketing on a platform such as Facebook. Though you may have a business account, you will still be visible if you post and add information through your personal account. And that personal account will quickly become associated with your business in the minds of your customers.

Adjusting Your Social Privacy Settings Is Not Enough

You may think that your personal social media accounts are locked down, but even this cannot protect you. Simply adding someone as a friend could expose all of your information: they can share the information with others once they have access. A single person taking a screen shot of a private post could forever disseminate it and associate it with your business. Thus, it’s not just about locking down your accounts — you still need to be cautious about what you post and how it can be interpreted.

Once Posted on Social Media, Information Cannot Be Taken Back

Once something has been copied and pasted on the Internet, it is there forever. In fact, attempts to suppress the information is going to only make it travel farther and faster; this is known as The Streisand Effect. The only way to reliably protect your reputation is to avoid any controversy to begin with. Once something questionable has been released, the only other option is to bury it with other information. This is commonly known as “reputation management,” and newly emerged digital field.

Even Simple Social Networking Mistakes Could Have Long-Lasting Consequences

Sometimes it isn’t even something that you’ve posted on your own social media that can have an impact. It happens quite frequently that someone can accidentally post something on their business accounts that were intended for their personal accounts. The only way to avoid this major faux pas is to make absolutely sure that your personal accounts and business accounts are completely separate… and to avoid posting anything that could be excessively divisive in the first place.

Customers today are media savvy

They understand the way that social media works and they understand that business owners have private lives. On the other hand, they can also be fairly unforgiving, especially when particular hot topics — such as politics and religion — are breached. In order to protect your business, you may need to manage your personal social media reputation as well. And that could require some professional help. Professional social media marketing companies and reputation management firms are well-versed in exactly what behavior a business owner can and can’t get away with — and how much they may need to limit their social media activity.

 

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