By Bev Strickland, Managing Director of Strictlymarketing
Social media can be one of the most useful tools a business has at its disposal, but as events of recent months has shown us, no-one is above the terms and conditions of social media platforms and we all have to play by their rules.
Is it fair? The fact is, it doesn’t actually matter because as members of the public, we do not own social media platforms anymore than we own newspapers or television and radio channels.
When you walk into any business and sign up for their products or services, you agree to abide by their terms of service, whether that business is digital or a physical store.
Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram are no different and breaches of their terms and services will inevitably have consequences.
The most recent and notable example of this is, of course, Donald Trump who offered some important lessons in how to utilise social media and get banned from social media.
Trump was an good example of using social media to build exposure, leverage off other people’s posts, and create a movement all while transforming these platforms into his most effective form of engagement – before he was unceremoniously dumped by social media platforms.
ABC News reports Trump was on Twitter for 12 years where he amassed 89 million followers and published as astonishing 47,000 tweets.
In doing so, he demonstrated why a social media presence matters, how it can work for you or against you and was a salient reminder that as users of social media platforms from Twitter to Facebook, Instagram to LinkedIn, we must abide by services and conditions or risk expulsion from the sites.
Donald Trump is both an example of the possibilities of social media and some of the responsibility which comes from being a social media consumer or user.
Why it matters for business
Why should businesses care? At the very least, it should serve as an important reminder that successful businesses develop cohesive social media strategies and, if they can’t manage this in-house, employ someone who can, or seek professional support and advice.
It does not mean businesses shouldn’t use what are awesome tools of engagement for reaching potential and existing consumers; it simply means you have to know what the rules are and then be smart about how you use social media to get the most out of it.
Not every business which has a Facebook page actually understands the parameters of what they can and cannot post on that page.
Alarmingly, it will come as a complete surprise to many business owners that when running a competition on Facebook, it is expressly prohibited to ask people to share a post in order to have a chance of winning a competition.
A business is also prohibited from asking for shares as a condition of entering a Facebook competition.
There can be a fine line between a bad review for a restaurant and a defamation case against the person writing the review. And yet, reviews on social media can make or break a business and can be an effective way of attracting future consumers.
Sydney Criminal Lawyers additionally points out that when some leaves a post or comment on another person’s personal or business page which is deemed to be defamatory, the person or company which “owns” the page can be sued.
You can check out Facebook’s full Terms of Service here.
Don’t be afraid of social media
The lesson here is not to be afraid of social media, but to make sure you are informed or guided in how to use it. Often this task will be managed by the marketing or communications department of a business.
If you do not have a marketing department, or someone on staff who is fully aware of what can and cannot be said on social media – and how to extract the most out of it – it may be time to outsource this task.