Your Online Social Presence: The Double Edged Sword of Our Time

There’s a funny thing about the time period we’re in. On one hand, we have this great tool at our fingertips: the online social Web. It let’s us communicate with people around the globe, helps us keep in touch with family, and allows us to research anything we could ever need.

However, on the other hand, having that online social presence, particularly for businesses, can sometimes automatically put a veil of secrecy on your face. So, how do you have that sort of transparency as a business owner, something that our culture demands, without having a full blown privacy meltdown? You obviously can’t share every single detail, but there does need to be some kind of clear glass.
So, say you owned a small cake shop. Since you don’t have the resources to publicize yourself, you use things like Facebook or Twitter to say what your daily deals are, when you’re open, who’s new to the team, etc. On the other hand, it’s not like you can tell your audience you’re in the red or that you just fired an employee for stealing from you. It then becomes an image issue. Where’s the line? Well, it depends on every situation, but here are some rules you can certainly follow:

Have a clear social plan and be consistent
When you’re trying to have that sort of honest image with your audience, particularly online, it’s super important to have a clear social plan, as well as keeping things consistent. Set your plan up with example situations. Know when you want to post, what sort of information you’ll share, what you’ll do in a crisis. Remember, you are in charge of your image and your reputation. Be sure to have a strong handle on it because if you don’t, someone else will.

Don’t forget to take things offline
Like we said, the online social Web is a wonderful thing. However, it’s not the only resource out there that can help you to be fully transparent and open. Don’t forget about the people you can meet offline (crazy, we know). Plus, you can use the Web here to your advantage by researching them beforehand, then pulling out your mental notes when the time comes. That way, you can appear clear, as well as knowledgeable, when you present yourself and your business. Use your online resources to drive your business. If you have that cake shop, make special offers that you’re customers can see online, but will bring them to your store. And once they’re there… engage with them face to face!

Always be on top of things
When it comes down to it, you need to have a little common sense action here. If you’re a small business owner, full transparency is king and there’s no way around that fact because you have more to lose and don’t have the cushion to help you if you fall. By always being on top of things, you don’t become like “those” hated companies (if you’ve noticed the way people react when companies don’t tell them things, it’s not a pretty sight). It almost takes away that personal connection because the online social web is like the modern day handshake. You just need to be the one extending your hand.

So, be honest, be open, and be the sort of company that you’d want to look up to. The rest will be a piece of cake.

Heather Huhman is the Community Advisor for BeenVerified and a regular contributor to a number of blogs including the PersonalBrandingBlog and USNews. Connect with Heather and BeenVerified on Facebook and Twitter.

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