Social media is a powerful tool for small businesses trying to build a brand, either locally or globally, and generate sales with an online presence. According to Infusionsoft, 71 percent of small businesses planned to use social media content to attract new customers in 2018 with 38 percent planning to increase spending on social network management. A greater reliance on social media brings with it a variety of concerns for a small business, particularly if you don’t a staff large enough to consistently monitor channels for offensive behavior. Proper planning is necessary to ensure the negative of effects of social media don’t keep you from experiencing the positive benefits of increased contact with customers, a more robust web presence and a free opportunity to expand the reach of your enterprise.

Burden of the Marketing Shift

Business marketing now involves personal engagement with customers; campaigns that do not invite your customer to interact risk being unsuccessful. While social media-based marketing can be used effectively, businesses that are used to providing a one-sided sell must now learn how to develop a relationships with buyers. Instead of releasing statements about product lines, your business needs to develop stories that promote the culture of the product instead of simply outlining its particular benefits.

Increased Customer Power

In the days before social media, negative company experiences might stay within an individual’s circle of friends; now, stories of bad customer service and disappointing products can run quickly through social media networks. It has become more difficult for companies to contain negative publicity. The upside is that as much as bad publicity spreads more quickly, good publicity also spreads more quickly. To help combat negative feedback from consumers, offer robust customer service through all of your social media channels and attempt to settle a problem before a toxic situation develops.

Tracking Negative or Misleading Statements

Social media is an enormous conversation everyone is invited to join; with all that talk, it’s difficult for businesses to track statements about their brand that are negative or even defamatory. With social media, you have the added burden of tracking statements and responding when necessary; the response, however, might be of limited effect if the negative statement has already made the social media rounds. If you want to tackle negative feedback in a proactive manner, reputation management software can help you track negative and positive feedback across social media and the web. Contacting customers with negative experiences can often lead to improved feedback but has the potential to backfire, so tread carefully as you keep an eye on the web.

Accidental Release of Confidential Information

Individuals with inside knowledge of your business might inadvertently blurt out confidential information, damaging the company’s competitive advantage. Before social media, a letter sent to the wrong address or even an email that ended up in the wrong inbox could be retrieved and the information kept under wraps. In the world of social media, the sheer numbers mean that once confidential information is out, it’s out.

Unauthorized Employees Speaking on Company’s Behalf

It’s difficult for companies to monitor employee social media activity and prevent them from speaking on company matters without authorization. In the era of engagement, you might strive for employees to have the ability to assert their personalities online; however, this freedom comes with the risk that even a well-meaning social media post about your company’s perceived objectives and direction can damage the company’s reputation or challenge the company’s assertions to investors.