by Scott M. Lewis
Considering the legal ramifications of social media and the written word, you never want to put yourself (or your organization) in a situation where you are making a bad situation worse in public. It’s essential that you follow a couple of basic rules when responding to a negative post.
First, never blatantly attack in a manner that is rude and outrageous. You can inflame the issue by getting others involved who are watching your social media feeds, and exponentially expand the argument with no ability to win. Be cautious of known social media users who are only looking for a fight. Trolling is very popular and can interject a person with no skin in the game into your argument. Don’t put yourself in a position in which you might lose control, which could lead to your saying something that might come back to get you in court. Other basic rules of thumb include:
• Avoid getting emotional; you must keep your cool.
• Remember your critic is a real person; he or she may be angry or frustrated, so don’t add fuel to the situation.
• A complaint can work in your favor if readers see how well you positively and respectfully handle a volatile situation. That’s good Public Relations (PR). Remember social media is PR.
The same rules apply for personal social media accounts. Since we are now a society that loves to share, you must be very careful what you share and with whom. It’s simply not that difficult to track down people on social media, and small security holes can be exploited and lead to hacking of your accounts. According to the Society for Technology Management, make sure to:
• Use strong passwords. The longer the password, the more secure your account will be. Choose words or phrases you can remember without writing them down. Be cautious about using children’s names, birth dates, dog or cat names, or everyday things that someone who knows you may be aware of.
• Use a different password for each social media account. Depending on how many accounts you have, you may want to consider a password vault. Many such vaults are available. Do some research and find one that best suits your needs.
• Set up your security answers. Most social media sites allow you to use security questions as protections. However, the most common answer used is mother’s maiden name, so be careful not to pick that one, especially if your mother has a brother who could be posting on your social media feeds.
• If you have social media apps on your phone, make sure your phone is password protected. If Bluetooth or WIFI is turned on, “ghosting” or hacking phones is easy, and phones without a password are far more likely to be hacked.
• Be selective with friend requests. The real danger these days is that the word “friend” has become blurred with acquaintances, or in some cases, predators. Before accepting friend requests, make sure you know these people and want to be friends with them. Ghosting and fake accounts are common these days on social media, so understand and be aware they are traps.
• Click with caution on social media. Social media accounts are routinely the targets of hacking, so look for misspellings and awkward language. If a message looks like someone translated it directly from Chinese, it’s not real. Make sure that a post “fits” and sounds like something the person you know would post.
• We have become a culture that loves to share. However, don’t blur the lines between public and private information, and don’t overshare. Social media’s purpose is to be social. But remember your posts provide insights into your life, the names of your relatives and kids, and your likes and dislikes. Such information can be used against you.
• There is more to a photo you post than a simple picture. What shows up in the background says a lot about who you are, where you live, and places you frequent. Inadvertently sharing this information can lead to you becoming a target for hacking, crimes of opportunity, identity theft, or worst case, personal attacks.
• Ensure that you have read and understand how to set up your privacy settings on social media feeds. Then customize those settings to protect yourself and those who can see your posts.
• Install the latest anti-virus software on your computer, including endpoint security. Doing so will give you some protection. Additionally, make sure your operating system and programs are current, and remove programs you no longer use. Encrypt your hard drives so any data that are stolen could be useless.
• Remember to log off when you are done with any social media site. A logged-in computer is gold to a hacker and can lead to compromised business systems.
Managing and monitoring social media can be exceptionally difficult. The reality is you can’t stop people from posting negative things about you or your company. These days, people aren’t typically brave enough to share negative conversations with you face to face, so we’ve become dependent on social media to make us feel better by posting comments anonymously in a public forum. For this reason, it’s essential that you monitor social media and be responsive to comments. However, weigh that need with the value of responding. Sometimes silence on your part says more about the person who is posting than it does about you.
Today, people who do not share their names along with negative comments are viewed as disgruntled, which discredits their comments. For the most part, people understand your situation, so avoid taking comments personally and writing emotional responses. If you are looking for tools to help you with this process, check out the links below. These are three social listening packages to get you started.
• Mention: https://mention.com/en/social-media-monitoring-tools/
• Falcon.io: https://www.falcon.io/ solutions/social-listening/
• Sprout Social: https://sproutsocial.com/features/social-media-listening/
Scott Lewis is the President and CEO of Winning Technologies Group of Companies, which includes Liberty One Software. Scott has more than 36 years of experience in the technology industry and is a nationally recognized speaker and author on technology subjects. Scott has worked with hundreds of large and small businesses to empower them to use technology to improve work processes, increase productivity, and reduce costs. Scott has designed thousands of systems for large, medium, and small companies, and Winning Technologies’ goal is to work with companies on the selection, implementation, management, and support of technology resources. Learn more about Winning Technologies at www.winningtech.com or call 877-379-8279. To learn more about Business Manager 365, visit www.businessmanager365.com.