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Social media can be a helpful tool for many businesses when it comes to adding a little extra to their SEO and providing a great platform for business-client interaction. Sure, building a Facebook page won’t lead to direct ranking, but the potential for link building is big, as well as building an audience. /

However, if one or two things go wrong, social media can have big real-world consequences for your business—whether you’re on it or not!

Ease of Sharing

The same thing that you can benefit so much from can be your downfall as well. How many times have we seen people in the public eye sticking their foot in their mouth via Twitter? Or having an old post from years ago brought up and criticized?

It’s always important to think before speaking, but in the case of social media, the record of what you say will live on forever. Even if you delete it, realizing after the fact that something you just said didn’t go over so well, is often too late.

Staff Representation

Before the age of social media, business owners would wonder what their employees really thought about their jobs. Were they enjoying it? Saying negative things to friends and family? Well, now anyone can have their say—and make it public.

The way your staff represents you online is important. Especially if they have a big following.

While it’s usually advised that employees be careful what they say online, it goes both ways. Reputation is important. Don’t lose yours by being a bad boss and getting called out for it online.

Everyone has Their Say

Which brings us to reviews. Staff, customers and anyone you can think of can have their say online. Even if you’ve avoided putting your business on directories and social media pages, if you’ve got a bad reputation, it will get out.

All it takes is one angry client or staff member to start the ball rolling and list you online. Then, whether you like it or not, you’re there for good and the only way to fight back is by taking control of your social media presence and communicating with bad reviewers.

Case Studies

It can be entertaining to look at businesses failing on social media, until it’s your business in the hot seat. Paying attention to what others did wrong can help you avoid making the same mistakes.

Coca-Cola

Posting an outdated map of Russia omitting Kaliningrad which was annexed following World War II, Coca-Cola had a brand-new hashtag following them around: #BanCocaCola. Applied to images and videos of people pouring their Coke bottles down the toilet, it wasn’t the greatest marketing move.

MTV Australia

Tweeting a suggestion requesting English subtitles on actresses America Ferrera and Eva Longoria at the Golden Globes doesn’t seem like the greatest idea. But MTV Australia thought it was a good plan. Needless to say, they suffered a PR nightmare.

Tay Tweets

Probably the most famous social media mess-up of recent years, Microsoft launched their AI Twitter bot and encouraged the people of the internet to help it learn. Well, if you know the people of the internet, you can guess what happened. Tay turned into a sexist, racist jerk in less than 24 hours.

The Final Words

Like many marketing tools, the powers of social media can be used for good, or evil. Compose carefully, research well and don’t let the trolls teach your account to be just like them.