While the use of social media to communicate with your client has tremendous benefits, it also has significant hazards.  The incredibly quick publishing times associated with social media along with the its casual nature encourages mistakes.  Mistakes made in social media can be costly and embarrassing.

Social media, by its nature, is a more casual than traditional media.  Don’t let the informality of the medium lull you into carelessness.  Informal tweets, posts, and instagrams that may be appropriate for a private citizen can be completely inappropriate for a company.  If you want to have informal posts, that’s fine, but create a separate, semi-personal account from which to make them.  Some companies want to have not only a professional corporate profile, but semi-professional profiles of their key employees to make the company seem more personable.  Be careful, however, that the posts on the semi-personal profiles adhere to the company’s standards.

Another peril of social media is its ability to multiply mistakes.  In March of 2011, Scott Bartosiewicz, who worked as an Account Supervisor for New Media Strategies, the company Chrysler Motor Company used to handle their social media, used inappropriate language on Chrysler’s twitter account.  The mistweet was reported around the world within a day.  Mr. Bartosiewicz and New Media Strategies were immediately fired by Chrysler.  The lesson here is to double and triple check your content and destination before you hit the send button.

Mistakes are forever.  As we saw in the previous example, Mr. Bartosiewicz may have attempted to delete the tweet, but it was too late.  It was seen and retweeted, reposted, screenshotted, and Google cached.  Even today, almost a year after the incident, a search on “Scott Bartosiewicz” or “Chrysler tweet” will result in many, many stories about what happened.  If you are trying to build followers for your business, then this is a risk you must understand.  You will at some point make a social media mistake and if you have done well in building followers, hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people will see it.  Again, double and triple check your content and destination before you hit the send button.

I hear from my customers that their social media efforts require too much time each day and that the results are too small.  Have patience.  Your company won’t be Starbucks overnight.  Social media works using a slow, compounding effect.  Over a period of months, if your content is interesting, your following will increase until you have the numbers you want.  Note the qualifier I used:  “if your content is interesting”.  You certainly won’t read or watch anything that is boring and neither will your customers.

Lack of responsiveness is also a danger.  Social media is a two way street.  Your customers have the ability to interact with you directly and expect that you will respond.  Use this as a way to find out what your customers want and as a way to build good will.  Nothing says I don’t care about my customers louder than unanswered posts on the company’s own social media pages.

There are no shortcuts in social media.  It also takes time to build up a long list of followers and solid web history.  If you are consistent about posting to Facebook, Twitter, your blog, and whatever other channel you use, your search result will improve and customers will feel more comfortable that you are reliable business.  A little thoughtful time spent each day will result in much more exposure down the road.