Social media exposure is growing like wildfire. Today’s generation regularly uses multiple forms of social media both personally and professionally. This means that you, your family, and your business are constantly in the spotlight. Whether you choose it or not, your constant exposure can have a huge impact on your business. Whether the exposure makes or breaks your reputation, however, is largely up to you.
When looking at social media and developing internal policies for how it may be used in your business, consider these two main ways social media can impact your reputation, both personally and professionally.

What You Say

Quotes in media outlets used to be based on phone calls and personal interviews. Now, when looking for a quote, most journalists pull from Facebook and Twitter. What you say on social media can be used against you, and if your business is in the spotlight for something, then it probably will be.

Many people use social media as an outlet for emotional rants. Many business owners and company representatives try to avoid exposure by having a business page separate from their personal profile pages, allowing them to speak “privately” to their close contacts and more professionally to the masses. The problem with that method, however, is that as long as your name is tied to your business, your quotes will always be under fire. And, while privacy settings may help the layman from finding you, the truth is that nothing you put online is actually private.

To help protect what you say online, take the following steps:

  • Watch what you say. If there is something that could possibly be taken the wrong way then the best thing to do is keep it off of social media. Yes, this may feel limiting compared to the rants some of your friends and followers post. Just remember that you have a reputation to protect, and that is more important than being a wordy equal.
  • Have a global reputation management system. No matter where you are, geographically or online, you should have a system in place that keeps your social media image under watch at all times. For larger companies it is generally helpful to outsource this job to a specialty firm who can keep an objective eye on how you and your business are being perceived online.
  • Focus on the power of social media. Social media is a very powerful platform to create a positive image for you and your business. Focus on using social media for this purpose rather than for personal use.

Take the company of Samsung for example. Right now they are going through a lawsuit due to the new S7 exploding. During this lawsuit, Samsung will have to be extremely careful in what they say in public and on social media along with trying to fix their product to minimize the repercussions.

What You See

Just like your words online are fair game for observers, your pictures say ten times more. Photos that you post on social media, especially your personal photos, can be freely and easily manipulated and used in a myriad of ways. While words can generally be verified, photos are easy to crop, alter, and interpret in ways that work against you. In extreme cases your personal photos of pets and family members can even be used in offensive or threatening ways.

Going back to the Samsung example of the Galaxy S7 exploding in people’s faces. If you are on social media, you can find memes and pictures making fun of the S7 and Samsung. These kind of visual images can hurt the reputation of their company and hinder their ability to sell their newest product. It is even costing them money in that they have to take more precautions of not just the S7, but their future products as well to make sure this problem never happens again.

In addition to protecting what you say, take the following steps to help protect your images and other visuals from hurting your reputation online:

  • Post photos like you would release them to the media. If there is a photo that you wouldn’t release to a magazine editor or local news reporter, then don’t post it on social media. You should also remove tags and other identifiers from photos posted by others if those photos don’t pass this test.
  • Always save the originals. If you post a photo online, keep the original on a backup source. If a photo is ever cropped or altered, you should have the original to defend yourself.

Social media is a powerful platform accessed millions of times per day across the globe. With the proper strategy and policies in place, you can use this popular trend to create an immensely positive reputation for you and your business.