The Dark Side of Social Media

The Dark Side of Social Media
English: Infographic on how Social Media are b...

English: Infographic on how Social Media are being used, and how everything is changed by them. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Social media is everywhere you look. And if you are in business, you are constantly being bombarded with information telling you that you need to “Go Social” if you want your business to survive. And it’s true. But, be careful, beware of the dark side of social media.

Social media is still a relatively new trend. But, it has caught on in a big way. It is estimated that 31% of Facebook’s 850 million plus users check Facebook at least once a day. And every day over one million new Twitter accounts are created.

But, its “newness” also means that people are still figuring out the “rules”. And, unfortunately, the negative aspects of social networking can start to creep up on you. And before you know it, social media has become a seriously negative force in your life. And even in your business.

Even Stuart Crabb of Facebook recognizes the addictive potential of their tool. In a recent article in the New York Times he said “If you put a frog in cold water and slowly turn up the heat, it’ll boil to death – it’s a nice analogy.”

Companies are trying to figure out how to best use social media to grow their companies. Employers are busy trying to create policies for their employees’ use of social tools in the office. And personal relationships are starting to feel the strain.

Here are 3 aspects of social media which you need to watch out for, before you are pulled into the dark side.

Social Media is a Time Suck

According to recent estimates, the average “visit” to Facebook lasts a whopping 405 minutes. Much of this time may not be “active”. But you can be sure that the constant temptation of checking the news feed during that time is a powerful time waster.

For many people, the amount of time spent checking news, the latest shiny object, or that new viral puppy video has turned into an addiction. An addiction that has reduced work place productivity, destroyed relationships and more.

What You Say on Social Media is Forever

How many stories have you heard of people losing jobs or not being hired because of some embarrassing photo or comment left on MySpace, Facebook or Twitter?
And once it is up there, it doesn't matter if you later come to your senses. It is out there for good.

This is true of negative information about your company as well. Once it is posted online, it is permanent. The best you can do, is try to bury the information so it’s more difficult to be found.

But, it can be found. And if it is potentially damaging, you can be pretty sure, at some point, it will be. It pays to “think” before you post.

Say Good Bye to Privacy

Social media has completely removed any illusions that you have that your private life is private. Even if you try to set your privacy settings -which are often so convoluted nobody understands them – anyone can get access to every aspect of your private life.

Even if you never use social media yourself, you can be tagged by friends (or enemies), you can show up in photos in public places; and anyone can write and post anything about you that they want.

Loss of privacy is a price you pay, especially for a free service. Have you ever read the terms of service on any free service or platform that you use? If you have, you noticed that once the information is posted, you don't own it any more. It can be used by anyone. And for almost any purpose.

And, the more you post, the less privacy you have. It is becoming extremely easy to build a profile about every aspect of your life. Aspects you previously thought was behind closed doors.

Beware the Dark Side of Social Media

Social media outlets can zap you of time, steal your privacy, and get you in a lot of trouble. But, they are increasingly becoming a part of life and business that is impossible to ignore.

As long as you are careful, these tools can be an incredible power house when it comes to marketing your business. You just have to make sure you take the dark side of social media into account.

To learn how social media can be used for your small business to increase customer engagement, brand recognition and more, be sure to view our FREE “Social Media for Small Business” webinar. Remember those stats earlier about how many adults use social media or a regular basis? You need to be there.

Social networking has become a way of life all over the world. You almost have to engage in it. But you also have to be careful to avoid the dark side of social media.