Social media is an effective, low-cost and low barrier marketing tactic. Perhaps because the barrier to entry is so low, the risk is quite high. As a social media consultant I firmly believe the benefits of social media marketing outweigh the risks. Here are a few of my best tips for managing the risks a small business owner might encounter in social media marketing:
Use strong passwords. Everywhere.
There are people out there who’s sole purpose in life is to hack into accounts and try to scam people out of money. If your password is ABC123 you’re at risk. If you use the same password for social media logins as you do for banking needs, your risk is even greater! For optimal security never use your banking password for anything else. Your password should be a string of numbers, letters and symbols that are nonsensical. Yes, they are harder to remember, but they’re also harder to hack. If you want to be extra-secure, there are apps to help you create complicated passwords and remember them all for you (check out LastPass and SecurePass).
Use Facebook’s built in risk-management functions.
Facebook makes it easy to protect your Business Page from potential future problems with the ability to give people who are helping you manage the Page different “roles”. As the business owner, you should have Admin status which controls all functions of the Page. If you are receiving help from an outsourcer or staff person, you should give them Editor status. Giving your staff Editor status should be sufficient for them to manage most social media marketing activities. If they need more, you can always supervise, or downgrade their status again afterwards. Through TweetDeck you can similarly manage access to your Twitter account.
Always have access to the social accounts for your business.
As the owner of the business, you should always have access to login to any social media profile that represents your business. Make it a practice that staff somehow keeps you up-to-date on password changes (there are apps for that). Even if you only login to Twitter once a year you know you have the ability if needed. One time it may be needed is when you are firing your social media manager. You will want to change passwords to any social accounts and remove her from the Facebook Page BEFORE she is let go. This prevents an angry employee from posting anything derogatory or hijacking your profile. Unfortunately, losing access to Pages and accounts due to staff changes is very common. I have watched many local businesses set up new accounts and start from scratch because they weren’t able to get passwords from staff who were no longer working at the business.
Be careful when jumping on the trending bandwagon.
Taking advantage of a trending conversation on social media can be a great way to reach new people and show you are keeping current, but if not handled carefully, it can have devastating effects. Always research a trending hashtag before you use it for your own marketing. Hashtags don’t always mean what they say on the surface. You don’t want to be the pizza chain accidentally making light of domestic violence.
These are some of the most common risks affecting small businesses getting into the social media realm today and they are all easy to mitigate with a little bit of planning. A good social media manager should already be on top of all this.