It’s one of the reasons Social Media is the success that it is – the ability to quickly and easily share information.
With a minimum of effort we can share a Facebook or Instagram post, or retweet a particularly funny or interesting tweet.
The problem is that we rarely give much thought to what it is we’re sharing.
A recent study from Columbia University found that about 59% of links shared on social media have never actually been clicked. This is true even when the article is shared hundreds or thousands of times. People share things without really engaging with them – without really thinking about what it is they’re sharing.
And while there’s no way of knowing how many people really think about the images they share, I imagine that it’s probably about the same. And this is perhaps even more alarming because images get shared much more than other types of social media content.
The problem is that there is simply a lot of bad content that’s out there, and it could get you into trouble.
Let me tell you what I mean. Recently, a Facebook friend of mine who happens to be an elected official shared a Bernie Sanders meme. The meme – a visual of Bernie Sanders giving a speech – was overlaid with a blurb that was trying to make a point about the private prison industry as it relates to politics and our country. Unfortunately, it didn’t do that good of a job at it.
The blurb – a Sanders’ quote – suggested that there were far fewer people in prisons in China than there were in the United States, and thus something was wrong with our system.
Immediately following his sharing of this meme someone pointed out (rightfully) that according to Amnesty International, China may execute up to 10,000 prisoners per year. The commenter then asked if the elected official was suggesting this should be the approach by the U.S as well.
Within minutes the post was take down.
Now in the case of my friend it really didn’t do any harm, but the lesson is clear – he put little thought into what it was that he shared, he simply shared it.
The same danger awaits each business owner who manages his or her own social media accounts. It is tempting to share funny, entertaining or even educational posts, but before you do, back up and ask yourself some questions.
First, what exactly is the content that you are sharing – the message, the image or video – actually saying? Is it making an argument about something? If so, what argument is it making? Further, is the argument valid or can it be easily torn up?
These are all very important aspects to figure out. After all, by sharing the content, you are owning it – you are putting your name and your stamp of approval on it. If people see something as untrue or misleading, they won’t blame the person that made it, they’ll blame you for sharing it.
Another question to ask is whether or not anybody may get offended by what it is you’re sharing. That might not matter to you, but it may matter to your business. Understand that there’s no context for whatever it is you’re sharing except the content itself. Just because you took it a certain way doesn’t mean everyone else will take it the same way.
If the content is offensive, it will be your brand or business that offends them, not the person or people who made the content in the first place. Again, by sharing it, you might as well have created the content yourself – that’s how people will perceive it.
Social media is a wonderful benefit to small businesses, and many have had enormous luck in promoting themselves, their products or brand through the smart use of Facebook and other platforms. However, it also poses many risks that you need to be aware of as well. Be smart about what you share on social media; take a moment to think about what it is before you let your audience see it!Digital & Social Articles on Business 2 Community