Social Media: What You Don’t Know Can Hurt

Social Media: What You Don’t Know Can Hurt


Social media provides powerful resources for expanding your online presence and exponentially increasing the influence of your brand. This type of power brings tremendous responsibility along with it.

In the same way social media can lead to fantastic business results, it can also damage your reputation and your brand when used recklessly. Misleading testimonials, privacy violations and defamation are common pitfalls for businesses engaged in social media and Internet marketing.

Testimonials and endorsements are great tools for working with raving fans to provide “social proof” that validates your business offerings. When using them on your website, social networks or other marketing materials, be sure to disclose any relationship (e.g, employees and consultants) and payment (in-kind or money) received from the person or business providing the testimonial or endorsement. Also, beware of testimonials and endorsements about specific results. The key is to avoid all advertising and marketing that may be misleading.

Privacy is another area that gets business owners in trouble. You must adhere to the promises you make to your clients and customers. If you say that you will not sell client information to third-parties, don't do it. You must also put reasonable measures for protecting client data into place. To protect your company from privacy law violations, work with an attorney or social media agency to develop a strong privacy policy, post the policy on your website and strictly adhere to policy provisions. It’s not hard to stay clear of privacy law violations if you are thoughtful and responsible with client data.

Now for messiest and most avoidable social media marketing pitfall for business owners, defamation. To stay clear of defamation allegations, do not make negative, disparaging or otherwise harmful comments about people or brands. In business (and your personal life too) if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all. If you make harmful comments, you may find yourself fighting a libel, slander or defamation battle. You are your brand. Protect your image and increase your influence by focusing on the positive.

We all know social media can be a game changer in your business when properly leveraged. We often forget it can also substantially harm your brand when used in a reckless manner. It's not hard to stay out of trouble when using social media to generate positive and profitable business results.

Stay positive. Be transparent. Add value.

This article provides general business information only. It is not meant to provide legal advice with respect to any specific or general matter and should not be acted upon without professional counsel.

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TC Cooper is a branding strategist, social media consultant and CEO of UpwardAction®. She helps firms, corporations and agencies build magnetic brands and leverage the power of the Internet for profitable returns. Learn more about UpwardAction® and sign-up for free online marketing and business development tips at and