Social Media: Easier Than You Think

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I couldn’t help but think about my friend and colleague, Nicole Harrison, when I was reading a recent article in the NYTimes. She is the owner of SocialNicole, a Minneapolis-based social media consulting firm. Nicole knows how you use social media — the interacts with people and develops relationships, taking them off the social media platform into real life, where she develops them further. She is now using her skills to help businesses cultivate an online social media presence and increase their sales.

The main gist of the article, and Nicole’s advice to me as we have talked about social media, is to build your company’s online influence through simple, straightforward communications skills. Be transparent and honest and listen and respond. These are the same skills that you use in real dialogue and communication.

The recent story of Mike Wise (how ironic that his last name is wise!), a Washington Post journalist who was recently suspended  from his job after he tweeted that Pittsburgh Steeler quarterback Ben Roethlisberger would be suspended for five games, illustrates the importance of being honest in social media use. Although Mr. Wise said that he posted the hoax Tweet to show how easily the media picked up on unsubstantiated news stories and how quickly such stories could spread, his attempt at teaching a lesson backfired.

Being honest can also have its risks, if your honesty, to someone else, is defamatory, such as in the cases of complaints against businesses. There has been a marked increase in defamation cases grounded upon online postings that businesses claim have damaged their reputation and revenue.

So in the end, smart companies are using social media to gain more attention, spread their name and as a result, increase their market share. Advice from the lawyer: use social media wisely, have guidelines in place and monitor the use of your business’s name online to respond to complaints and negative postings.

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