Why being too Social is bad for Business

This post is by Helen Stothard


I had an interesting conversation recently. We were talking about being yourself on Social Media.  Now I have always been an advocate of showing people your true personality on Twitter, down to sharing the mundane stuff such as what you had for dinner, the weather and your TV viewing habits.  I know some people don’t ‘get’ that side of Twitter but for me, it helps me see the person behind the tweets, I build an impression in my mind, whether it’s right or wrong, of that person, and can then tell whether or not I feel I can connect with them.

This is all well and good, but at the end of the day, you should always remember that whenever you tweet you have an audience of thousands, and you also have Google storing your tweets away to resurrect in a Google search out of context at another time.

If you only ever use Twitter or other forms of Social Media for purely social use then this is fine, but beware, if you make it known on Social Media that you run your own business or are employed by a particular business then you don’t only have your own identity to think about.

You need to also bear in mind that sites such as LinkedIn expect a much more professional approach than Twitter or Facebook, the different sites have different audiences who expect a different level of conduct from you.

I am fortunate to be reading a proof copy of Heather Townsend’s new book: The Financial Times Guide to Business Networking and it only serves to re-enforce what I already knew.  What you say online can seriously affect your business, especially your credibility. (If you are serious about your networking online or offline then it’s well worth a read and you can pre-order it now).

Now we all know that you will never please all of the people all of the time on Social Media, what your particular network may feel is acceptable will probably upset someone else, you have to go with your gut instinct and say what you think is acceptable.  However, one thing that does seem to feel wrong is those people who ‘eff and jeff’ to quote my friend.  Is Social Media really the place to swear?  Would you do it in a normal conversation?

You wouldn’t drink and drive, because it means you are not as capable or competent as when you are sober, so why do so many people tweet when they have had one too many?

I’m not a prude, don’t get me wrong, and as I say, if its just for social – knock yourself out, you can say what you like.  At the end of the day the rest of us have the option of hitting the unfollow button if we don’t like what you say.  But… are you tweeting just for you, or are you also representing your business? In this case please do exercise some caution.  

You will be surprised how much people remember the next day, particularly when it’s negative.  That one little comment you hoped you got away with will have been spotted and saved away to come back and haunt you later.

If your prospective audience or possible future employer is also on Social Media is this something you would like them to see?  You could be the best person for the role, but unfairly perhaps, what you say online could be held against you at a later date, where your personality rather than your capability are the reason you weren’t selected for that position.

I am sure that many of us, if we were to look back at comments taken out of context would regret more than one comment that we typed (don’t forget there is a delete button!), so slow down and think before you type, is this really the picture you wish to portray.  It’s also worth mentioning you need to check your spelling, take an extra second or two to check, particularly if posting from a phone that has auto correct enabled, I have seen some classic mistakes on posts that have come from phones!

What’s your best social media gaffe? Have you lost work as a result of a comment made on Social Media, or perhaps you just have a top tip to share with us? I look forward to your comments with interest.


Written by Helen

2 Responses to “Why being too Social is bad for Business”

  • Some very good points well made Helen. It never ceases to amaze me how some people seem to think that their “personal” profile can be split from the professional one. I know of one Twitter that actually has the company logo behind him on his Twitter profile and slags off his competitors as if its a personal one-to-one he’s having with a mate down the pub! Just what image does he think he’s portraying of himself and the company that condones such behaviour?

  • Avatar Philippa:

    I so agree with this Helen. So many people don’t think about what damage a comment taken out of context can do to their brand. Why having a strategy about who to link to/ connect with/ follow and what you make public is so important

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