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Business owners should tread carefully on social media

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Consultants and marketing companies say business owners need to recognize the effect their words have when they post comments to social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

 

It could be a very bad move for business owners to give their personal opinion, express emotion, offer political commentary and voice their views regarding the world at large.

“If you are going to have an opinion and post it on social media, don’t just blurt it out. Consider its impact and how you will phrase it,” said business coach Kayte Connelly, president of Best Principled Solutions LLC, which has an office in Bethlehem.

“Is it copacetic with the general crowd? Are you going to firmly back whatever you are saying?”

Connelly and other coaches and advisers warn that social media are powerful tools that can make or break a business. A business owner needs must understand that any post to Facebook, Twitter and similar outlets will be viewed by many people and can be read over and over again, saved and copied.

Connelly said social media are good for those who thoughtfully weigh out what they are going to say. A business owner with experience and knowledge on a topic should not necessarily be fearful of making a statement online.

“It is important to bring your voice and experience to the table. Your opinion does matter,” she said. “So take a step back and then take a step forward, and carefully choose your words.”

CLIENT’S VIEWPOINT

Jane Wells Schooley, CEO of Northstar Team Development in Lower Nazareth Township, said business owners who post on social media should be consistent with their values, as well as research a topic before going into cyberspace.

“Be authentic. If you are going to say something on social media, make sure it is something that you are willing to say during a face-to-face conversation,” Schooley said.

“And if it is a topic that you know that you and your client have opposing views on, you should steer clear of discussing it unless they bring it up and want to have a purposeful discussion.”

SOMEONE ALWAYS WILL DISAGREE

Kevin Fidler, who operates NuStream Marketing LLC in Allentown, said he has worked with business owners who sustained negative publicity from posting commentary on social media.

They may have put a link to an article on Facebook or posted negative comments on Twitter about politics or other subjects and had people respond saying things such as, “I would never come to your business or do business with you,” or “You should keep your comments to yourself.”

Business owners need to realize that what they post on business and personal social media accounts will be scrutinized. They cannot voice their beliefs, give commentary on politics or other issues and please everybody, according to Fidler. Someone always will disagree with your opinion.

“Whatever you put out there on Facebook, Twitter, it is getting viewed. People will screenshot it, people will read it, but they just may not comment on it,” Fidler said. “Anytime you give your opinion, you can expect to see a backlash. I, personally, will always keep my mouth shut.”

THE CONNECTION IS PARAMOUNT

Fidler said a business owner surrounded by scandal or bad publicity from remarks made on social media is not someone he wants as a client. He said, though, one of the first steps to putting out the fire is to deactivate all of the business owner’s social media accounts.

If the publicity is bad enough, “a business owner will never be successful,” he said.

“You should look at it as you will always offend somebody,” he said, with your personal opinion, beliefs, emotions or political views.

According to Fidler, his research has shown that 85 percent of a business sale is made because customers like the person behind the business making the sale, while 15 percent of a sale is because the customer likes the product.

“Social media was not made for a business owner to use to express their opinions or views,” Fidler said. “Social media sites were really made to connect to people to each other.”

CAUTION WITH PERSONAL ACCOUNTS, TOO

John Zima, owner of John Zima Consulting Services LLC in Kutztown, said he never posts comments of a personal nature to his Facebook business account.

The business coach advises clients not to post personal beliefs or commentary on social media sites they have set up for business.

Even posting comments on personal sites gets tricky. People need only to look up the name of the business owner to view his or her personal social media account.

“From a business-coaching standpoint, I totally disagree with posting personal commentary. It shows a lack of professionalism,” Zima said. “A small-business owner, for one, needs to maintain integrity and accountability. It is just a bad business move.”

WARY OF CONSEQUENCES

Connelly warns about postings by business owners but doesn’t rule them out.

“I am not opposed to people posting stuff on Facebook or other social media sites if it is for the wellness of the community and it engages people to have discussions and take a stand for their beliefs,” Connelly said.

“Just know that there could be repercussions to anything you say.”

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