Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest…90% my life is online. The other 10% involves staring at my iPad and mumbling to myself. The only Friends I know are re-runs on Channel 5, and it’s just a matter of time before I stop washing my hair and start listening to Skrillex. But forget social awkwardness; over-reliance on social media is costing me something else. It’s costing me money. And in this article, I find out how:
1. Internet Audiences Are Unpredictable
It’s a matter of lost context. Online, people are more likely to read “fragments” of text, rather than starting from the very top. And without context, even a passing comment can send readers into a rabid frenzy.
A personal trainer, who wants to be known as Henry, tells me his story:
“I Tweeted to some prospective clients ‘You can improve yourself; if only you made the effort! Contact me, etc’. For some reason, one guy thought I was commenting about how he was a mainland Chinese.
He thought I was being racist by saying he had to improve himself. And because it was taken out context, people kept saying ‘oh, this racist guy is so open about it’ and they kept spreading it. Even worse, some truly racist people mentioned me to give me (unwanted) support.
I am sure I lost some job prospects. Most of my clients train in their condo gyms, and some of them are from China.”
That’s what happens when you “fire and forget” on Twitter. If Henry had addressed the angry response immediately, he could have fixed it. By the time he noticed, he’d been ignoring his feed for a good hour. The lesson here?
If you’re going to use social media, pay attention and respond fast. Or you could left be gawking at your lost job, lost clients, and lost dollars. Need more help on how to do it? Follow us Facebook for future articles.
2. It Extends Your Time Commitment
Social Media is great for advertising, because it’s interactive. You hear this from experts all the time. You know what the problem is?
It’s in the word “interactive”. Sure, it means your contacts or clients can talk to you. The bad part is, you’re now obliged to talk back. When you don’t, you become like that annoying guy who won’t pick up his cell phone.
This is how the most people feel about that guy, minus vulgarities:
You probably know how frustrating it is, when you give someone 10 missed calls and get no answer. Now imagine a client or colleague feeling that way. Well when someone messages you on Facebook or something, the effect is milder, but the expectation is still there.
So you post something about your services, or a profession-related article, and that’s it: An explosion of comments and questions, which you should now answer (or risk alienating people). And you better be prepared, because a hot topic means exponentially more of that ol’ time “interaction”.
Don’t get me wrong; social media is great for networking and selling. Just don’t fall for the belief that it’s truly”free”. Social media interaction takes time, and that translates to dollars.
3. There’s No Undo Button
Yes, I know there’s a delete button. But it may as well be called the: “Oh damn, I said something stupid and admit it by deleting this post” button.
Before the Internet, saying something stupid was less destructive. People would be like: “Hey Ryan, did you say you totally made up your taxi claim?” And I’d be all “Err, no no, I said the next Dark Knight movie features Bane.”
Problem over, as long as I don’t do something stupid like put it on the Internet.
As an example, Gilbert Gottfried (actor) who lost his Aflac spokesperson job. Just after the Japanese tsunami, he Tweeted:
I just split up with my girlfriend, but like the Japanese say, ‘They’ll be another one floating by any minute now.’
(I know there’s an error. Gottfried’s weak points include grammar and acting.)
What do we do when we make an insensitive joke in front of 10 people? Apologize and look sheepish. What do we do when we make one in front of thousands of people?
Risk losing our job, that’s what. Then get relentlessly mocked while eating canned beans for a month.
4. It Makes You Scam Bait
If you got a big raise or won the lottery, would you tell someone? Before social media, your girly shriek of excitement was confined to the room.
Today, chances are you’d post it. Even if you’re not prone to spontaneous outbursts, you might be trickling your personal information. The pictures you post, the sites you frequent, and the friends you keep all form a book. It’s called “Ripping Me Off, and How To Do It.”
The next time a “medium” comes up to you and recites your name, date of birth, and school…think about what you’ve posted on Facebook, okay? He’s probably as supernatural as a two dollar card trick.
It can get a lot worse if you’re a webcam addict. Remember the naked video chat incident? One of the victims was extorted for $97,000 over a nine month period. That’s more than my car’s COE.
Have you ever seen any social media disasters? Comment and tell us about it!
Get more Personal Finance tips and tricks on www.MoneySmart.sg
More From MoneySmart