Is Social Media Damaging Your Company’s Brand?

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A few years ago I was employed by a small business who had a customer/client that was running their own small business as a social media expert. My employer and this particular client decided to swap services. Seemed like a good enough idea at the time. I was brand spanking new to the social media industry, but it became worrisome to me when I started wondering if I knew more about social media than the social media expert that my employer had exchanges services with. Things went from me having thoughts of “funny thought they’d have known that,” but not a big deal. To “how the heck could they NOT know that?” I started to wonder why I wasn’t running my own social media business because I would at least stand a better chance of doing things like…oh…let’s say not ruining my customers business and reputations.

Initially, the social media expert didn’t know small things like that you could create a username for Twitter with capital letters in it. It seems like a small detail, but having customers who can easily read your Twitter handle (as Martha Stewart says) ‘is a good thing’. For example, which is easier to decipher? @marthastewart or @MarthaStewart (you be the judge).

The next thing I noticed was the social media expert using a program that would automatically grab images from the internet when a search string was applied. I thought that seemed really odd, so I went online and did a search for the image that had been posted on my employer’s social media page/s and low and behold it was just a random image with obvious potential copyright infringements. So, I immediately removed the image and replaced it with one from a free image site that I commonly used (I sometimes create my own unique images by drawing, cropping or combining multiple images, as per the image above). Also, it’s important to note that with some of the free image sites, you still need to read all the terms and conditions because often in order to use an image you’ll need to give accreditation to the author. Okay, now on with my story… I then notified my employer of my findings and told the social media expert that he could get fined for such things—I’ve heard of people getting fined $5,000 (although I don’t really know too much about fines and consequences). Perhaps, one of the peeps reading this blog does?

Here’s A Fantastic Site For Free Images:


Finally, bigger, embarrassing and loss of potential customer issues starting popping up on my employer’s Twitter feed. For instance, an image of men wearing no shirts with the Twitter message saying something to the effect of ‘when you get caught doing lines of coke in the bathroom’. This happened because the social media expert was relying on a program to do all their work and that program operated by using a string of words/word to do a search and then automatically posting. My employer immediately asked the social media expert to post our apologies and that an error had occurred. Luckily, these string of mishaps did not damage my employer’s reputation or brand. Their reputation/brand remained in tack in part (I’m assuming) because their Twitter account was so new they only had about eight followers. Also, they sent out an apology tweet within 24 hrs and finally they had an excellent reputation in the community, to begin with. Again, perhaps one of the peeps reading this has additional input?

One of the takeaways I learned from that experience is that you can do a lot of harm if you use social media incorrectly. It takes a long time to build up a company or person’s brand and only moments to tear it down. Has anyone else experienced the incorrect use of social media, be it business or personal?

cheryl redick blog, graphic designer London Ontario

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I would love to hear from you! Are you a small business? Or are you new to social media? Check out my latest blog about my journey into the dangers of social media and let me know what you think!

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Join the conversation, my latest blog is about working for a small business & my journey into the dangers of social media. @SBCLondon #smallbiz #newbie #socialmedia

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6 thoughts on “Is Social Media Damaging Your Company’s Brand?

  1. Hi Cheryl, I haven’t had quite the same experience as you, but I feel a similar conflict of opinions at my work over our social media account.

    I will admit right away that I am the new person to the social media team and I have a lot to learn about the whole process. However, recently someone commented on a twitter post that my company made on our company twitter account. It wasn’t necessarily a positive comment, the person asked us the business for our opinion regarding health care benefits for employees. Specifically the person was asking us if we, the company thought we provided enough coverage for massage therapy for employees. I felt like we should respond to the tweet, informing the employee exactly how maximum expenses are determined. The response would have provided the person information on how benefits are determined and who they should contact if they want to make changes to the benefits plan.

    I started to prepare the response, and provided to my supervisor and it was then I was told it was company policy to not respond to negative comments. The comment in my opinion wasn’t exactly negative, and by not responding at all, this person will likely be more aggravated about the situation. I think it is hard to determine when to respond to negative comments and when not to.

    Overall working with a team on social media it seems like there are several different approaches that can be taken, and hopefully the person running the account is knowledgeable enough to take the proper approach.

    • Good comment Kelly! I’ve run into similar dilemmas at work. This is a question I would like to pose to our Instructor ‘Alexandra’. “How do we approach managers or business owner’s who have their own ideas of how social media should be run? What if they are wrong?.”

  2. Hi Cheryl,
    I do agree with your thoughts that the incorrect use of social media can become the biggest mistake for the company or for the individual. on the contrary, it is very important to use social media as a part of your company’s branding and marketing. Also, Nowadays social media plays a very important role for the company or for the individual.

    • Yes, I agree social media does play a very important role for everyone, in particular, for individuals or businesses trying to attain more customers, increase sales, etc.

  3. Love Pixabay, thank you! It’s not easy to find exactly the shot you need to match your story – I guess we’re spoiled by Goggle content. This time I got mine through Unplash but I’ll look at yours next time 😉

    • Glad you love Pixabay as much as I do! I’ve never heard of Unplash, I’ll check it out. Thanks, and yes it is hard to find exactly the shot you want, which is great for those of us who love manipulating photos.

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