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10 Things Every Internet Business Owner Should Know About Social Media

Business owners must protect their brand in online social platforms
Business owners must protect their brand in online social platforms
Creative Commons: 1stdefense

Facebook has hit some huge waves of discontent in recent weeks. First, Facebook exec Mark Zuckerberg is busy answering – or avoiding – questions and criticism over Facebook’s new features that make even more user information public, like community pages, website “likes” and broadcast status updates.

Then, Facebook discontinued functionality of fan page landing tabs for most users. Businesses with Facebook pages and less than 10,000 fans can no longer create a fancy custom tab where new visitors are directed. The work-around is purchasing Facebook advertising, which is self-serving on the part of Facebook, but speaks to the first point below:

1.  Social media is free. You get what you pay for, sometimes more, but usually not.

In light of the blogging and tweeting and ranting on social media (Google is in trouble too ... privacy issues for users are raising hackles around the web), there are nine more important things to remember when you and your business go social:

2.  You are responsible for your own content: protect your intellectual property, your images and your brand.

3.  Understand how the social site will use your personal information. Read before you click “I agree.”

4.  Manage your privacy settings. Start with the strictest possible controls and loosen them as you feel comfortable. Review your settings regularly. Make certain that nothing "reverts" to a public setting.

5.  Don’t get carried away with widgets, games and interactive features. If an application says it “pulls content” from your profile, understand what content you are making accessible. And to whom.

6.  Test, test, test. Log in from another account, or have an associate log in from their own account to see what information you are making available.

7.  Don’t invest huge amounts of money in customizing social media page design. Functionality on any free site can change without notice, at any time. Your effort and your investment can disappear overnight.

8.  Stay current with changes in social website administration. Follow the developer’s forum for the social platform. Find an informative blog and scan it regularly for updates that affect the way you use your account. (See resources below.)

9.  Apply the same considerations, especially privacy, to your clients and prospects on social media that you would in person, by e-mail or on your website. For example, don’t use comments and photographs from your Facebook page (copy and paste is a dangerous tool) on print materials without permission.

10.  Search for yourself regularly. Manage your social media presence and your brand online. Be proactive. Set Google alerts and use online tools that scan for mentions of your name, your company and your product.

Do you have more resources for managing and protecting your online brand? Post your suggestions in the comments here.

The Unofficial Facebook Resource
Facebook Developers Blog
Social Media Examiner
Twittown: the apps and widgets community
Google Alerts
Real Time Search – Social Mention


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