Renee

A quick explanation of what’s going on with Facebook groups

If you’re a business owner relying on activity through your Facebook group, a group administrator running a busy page, or a group member who likes to keep an eye on what’s going on but you don’t actually contribute – and you’ve seen all the panicked messages over the past week, don’t despair!

There have been reports of groups’ memberships dwindling overnight due to devilish Facebook staff scouring the platform to randomly remove people at will. My newsfeed has been full of notices from people begging their group members to post on the relevant page to prevent them from being hurled into oblivion by a Facebook team with nothing better to do.  Well, don’t worry; this is not what’s happening.

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Here’s what’s actually going on:

Has Facebook really got involved with group members?

Yes.

Has Facebook removed members because they don’t participate in discussions or like posts?

No.

Not if those members want to be there.

This is what’s happened…

People can join a group in a number of ways, including:

  • Searching for the topic
  • Searching for the specific group
  • Being invited by the group moderator
  • Being invited by someone else
  • Being added by someone else.

The final point in that list is the most relevant to this discussion, which is why I’ve written it in bold type. It’s the one that should stand out.

Let’s assume you have a personal Facebook account.  If you have been added to a group by someone else, there’s no guarantee you want to be there.  As an example, I recently noticed religious and political posts popping up in my personal newsfeed along with notifications that some of my friends had commented on these posts. When I checked why I was seeing this, I discovered that some friends had added me to these groups, believing I’d be interested in them. I’ve also been added to people’s business groups, local history groups, cat owner, chocolate lover and various others that I may or may not want to belong to.

I’ve chosen to stay and either participate or simply scroll through periodically in the ones that are of interest to me, remove myself from ones that aren’t, and stop notifications from ones I don’t really care about but don’t want to offend the moderator by leaving the group.

Why Facebook has got busy

Facebook now wants to make sure that people are joining groups that are relevant and meaningful to them. They haven’t randomly removed people; they have simply moved people who have been added to a group, but never visited it, into the “invited” section of the group’s Members list.

What you can do if you run a Facebook group

If you’re a group moderator, you can see your group’s updated member count in the Members list. These are people who have chosen to belong to your group, whether or not they take part in its discussions. The people who have been moved to the Invited list are ones who did not ask to join the group – you or someone else added them.  You can now choose whether you’d like to send a reminder to those people or accept that they don’t want to join your party.

I hope that helps to clarify what’s happened. And remember, if you’re running a business group, it needs loving care and regular attention to keep it active, healthy and useful – bit like me!

Feel free to get in touch if you need help with any aspect of Facebook for your business. You can call me, drop me an email, or find me on any of the major social media channels. I don’t run a Facebook group, but I do have a business page – here it is!

 

New year, new strategy

Welcome to 2019, and the excitement and uncertainty it brings!

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While the world waits with baited breath to see how we manage to keep our little island afloat after March 29th, one thing is for certain – whether or not the country prospers, our social media will be on overdrive with opinions, advice, criticism and, hopefully, continued celebration of all that’s great here in the UK.

Over the years I’ve come to dislike new year’s resolutions intensely as I’m dreadful for committing to them, but for those of you who are starting the year with good intentions, here’s a reminder of ten things you can do to boost your marketing. They’re listed in no particular order, so maybe choose your favourite three strategies to focus on for January and see how it goes…

  1. Create a social media plan that encompasses all the platforms you use, or should be using. Be realistic – there’s no point scheduling time you don’t have as you’ll be setting yourself up to fail, and no one likes that.
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  2. If time management is an issue, use a good social media dashboard to help you schedule posts more productively. I love Hootsuite, but the usually-helpful team there made some changes last year that I didn’t agree with.  I researched other platforms and still found this to be the best for me, and therefore the one I tend to recommend. (I can help with your time management too… just click here.)
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  3. Think about using paid posts. Since Facebook changed its algorithm to – apparently – enforce its goal of keeping it a ‘friends and family platform,’ it’s been much harder for business pages to feature in anyone’s newsfeed. This doesn’t mean you should stop being there; on the contrary, it’s still a brilliant place to be seen. You just might find that you’re seen a lot more easily if you pay to boost your page, or even a single post.
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  4. Share images! Photos are hugely popular on all social media channels, so don’t be shy to share. Be discerning though, and remember that what’s fun on Facebook may not be appropriate on LinkedIn.
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  5. And following on from that… if you’re not yet on Instagram, join the party now! It’s fantastic if you’re a creative person and a whiz with imagery, obviously – but even if you’re not, this is the hottest place for building a following and encouraging people to recognise your brand, products and services.
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  6. Make sure you consistently link back to your website. Help your SEO by bringing people from social media to your site and directing them to the pages that will earn you money!
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  7. Reshare posts with a fresh headline. For example, if you’ve posted a blog, share it the first time with the headline you chose, then share again a couple of days later with a completely different headline. You may be surprised to see the varying responses.
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  8. Whether you’re rewriting headlines or sharing new content, don’t forget to use keywords! If you’ve attended any of my social media training sessions, you’ll know that I bang on about keywords – and for good reason. Don’t underestimate their power, as these are the terms your potential customers are searching for.
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  9. Don’t be scared to show your personality…. Remember that social media is social, and people buy from people. Be fun, friendly and passionate – and professional of course.
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  10. And finally… stay safe! It might seem silly to mention this to business-minded people but the hackers and naughty people love to steal passwords, identities, data etc…. you know the story!  Update your security information regularly and never share passwords.
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I use social media every day, so I’ve set myself the January challenge of reading Les Mis (in book form, not on Kindle). It’s my favourite show so I’m interested to see how the original text stacks up.

Let’s check back at the end of January and see how well we’ve both done…!

Wishing you a happy, successful, prosperous 2019!!

Seven ways to plan ahead for your Christmas social media

Getting ready for Christmas? With the holiday season looming, it’s worth thinking about how you’ll handle your social media over the festive period.

Plan ahead

You need to be an organised person to plan ahead!  Staying active on social media will ensure your business doesn’t stagnate if you’re too full of mince pies and brandy butter to post anything. Remember that you can schedule stuff with Hootsuite or a similar “dashboard” in advance: create posts, upload photos, generally be prepared; this will keep your audience engaged during the festivities.

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1. Showcase seasonal products

If you’re selling anything Christmassy, you should have already started with a festive social media marketing campaign.  If you haven’t, now’s the time to get a move on…!! Promote your products or services across all relevant social media channels. Did you know that you can create a “Facebook Offer” if you’re running a specific promotion? It will send interested people a reminder to claim the discount (or whatever the offer is) before it ends. A carousel photo post is also a lovely way to show off a few items in one go.

2. Get into the festive spirit

This is a brilliant time to connect with your audience on a personal level.  Even the most serious business people tend to relax at this time of year.  Post a cheery seasonal message that will make people smile. If you’ve put up a Christmas tree or other festive season decorations, pop a pic on Facebook or Instagram! LinkedIn is the most professional platform but there’s nothing wrong with an engaging seasonal post on there too!

3. Show your appreciation.

Say thank you to your clients and followers for staying with you during the year. This can be a simple photo post or beautifully designed graphic – or just a few words straight from the heart!

4. Keep your business info up to date

Don’t forget to tell your clients when you’ll be open and closed over the holidays. This is also a good opportunity to update any other business information on your social media profiles that may be out of date. Don’t forget to include keywords in your profiles to help people find your business in searches.

5. Manage reactive responses

How quickly do you reply to tweets and messages on Facebook? You can set an auto-reply that responds immediately to direct Facebook messages, but you shouldn’t leave customers dangling for days. Keep an eye on your social media for exactly this reason – or post a clear message that you won’t be around. Of course, if your clients rely on you for an emergency service, for example if you’re a plumber, think about outsourcing your social media maintenance while you’re busy partying.

6. Get ready for the new year!

Think it’s too soon to worry about 2019? It’s definitely not. Prepare a mailshot now so that you don’t have to think about it over the holidays. Then you can get the year off to a highly motivated, stress-free start by being in touch with your clients, customers, potential clients and customers and anyone else who you want to remind about your business!

7. Bring in some extra help

If you’re too busy festooning the office with fairy lights to keep an eye on your social media, you might benefit from taking on a temp or a virtual assistant to help with social tasks. Don’t you find that in our dynamic digital age it’s really nice to receive something in the post? Even having someone to write your Christmas card envelopes is a help.

Here’s a reminder of easy ways to schedule your social media, and do feel free to let me know if you need some help.

Nine tips for scheduling your social media

If you’re running a business, you’ll know that there’s not always time to stop what you’re doing to tweet or post on LinkedIn.  That’s why there are various tools available to help schedule your social media, ensuring your continued presence whatever you’re doing and wherever you are!

Hootsuite is my preferred platform – I like the easy-to-navigate dashboard and its straightforward scheduling system.  Other popular social media platforms include Tweetdeck, Buffer, Hubspot and SproutSocial – all have their pros and cons, and varying price plans, so it boils down to whichever one you feel most comfortable working with.

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Whichever you choose to use, these basic tips will help you get going…

  • A good social media dashboard will allow you to post simultaneously to Twitter, Facebook (business pages and personal profiles), LinkedIn (including business pages), Google+ and Instagram. Hootsuite does.
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  • Think about your wording before you share everywhere – what’s snappy on Twitter may be unprofessional for LinkedIn or not explanatory enough for Facebook.
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  • Allow yourself time to plan your content. On Hootsuite you can schedule a couple of hundred messages over the next few weeks; make yourself a coffee and spend time at the start creating a CSV spreadsheet, then update it regularly – and relatively quickly – to provide fresh content.
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  • Plan your timing; if you’re trying to attract clients from abroad, make sure your posts are going out in their working hours rather than yours.
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  • Your social feeds should include a mix of images, text, soft sales content that links back to your website, video – if you produce any, and topical news that’s relevant to your business and will interest your audience. Keep the salesy stuff to a minimum – aim to inform and educate rather than constantly bombarding people with a hard sell.
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  • You can repeat tweets on different days and at varying times, but I advise against repeating identical content on LinkedIn or Facebook. You can, however, refresh and re-use old content. It’s a good idea to make it relevant to something that’s going on in the news now.
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  • Review your social activity to see which posts people like the most, and schedule more of those. Hootsuite’s analytics are very clear and user-friendly.
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  • Don’t rely on pre-planned, scheduled posts; deliver a good mix of current and industry news too.
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  • Even if you’re scheduling in advance, stay engaged regularly in order to reply to other people’s queries or comments, and thank them for retweeting. And remember that all platforms are social – even LinkedIn – so retweet, like, share and comment on other people’s news too!

I’m here if you have any queries or need help to plan your social media. Happy scheduling!

The Business Show at ExCel: 14/15 November

The largest business exhibition in Europe hits London in November with over 25,000 visitors. I’ll be there at the heart of it to explain about social media marketing and training – both on my stand and as a seminar speaker.

     

I’ve never exhibited at a huge business show before – at least, not for social media marketing and training. I’ve visited many exhibitions – mainly food-related ones, especially if chocolate is involved – and jewellery, but that was in a past life: pre-Internet.

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In more recent times I’ve traipsed around business shows at ExCel and Olympia chatting to networking friends who are exhibiting, and I’ve met new contacts who’ve enticed me to leave my business card by offering some kind of delicious treat or the chance to win a prize.

I have joined clients on their stands at various trade shows to help with their marketing – that’s always great fun and highly rewarding.  And I’ve exhibited at smaller networking events, such as the YBC days in Spitalfields, where I also sit on a panel to answer questions about social media marketing.

But this is my first time alone at ExCel – the country’s largest auditorium!  So pop along to say hello – you’ll find me on my stand: YBC88, not far from the main entrance. I might well run a competition for people who stop by to say hello – all in compliance with GDPR, of course.

“The Biggest Business Event in Europe” is hailed as “Packed full of the very best speakers, features, innovations, education and opportunities in the business world; the event is dedicated to guiding startups, SMEs and large corporations on their business journey.”

You can register for free entry to the Business Show here.

Hope to see you there!

Tips for blending your business and personal Facebook profiles

Using social media in a personal context can still lead to business opportunities, if it’s handled sensibly. And nothing happens by chance, so we should always be prepared for someone to check us out online at any time.

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As an example, I recently met Ade, a celebrity events planner who has masqueraded around the homes of some top A-listers. We connected on LinkedIn, naturally, then – as we have a number of shared social contacts – he added me as a Facebook friend.

Now, I don’t keep my personal Facebook account particularly professional; this is my forum for staying in touch with friends and family.  It’s littered with art gallery pics, trips to the theatre, a few cat photos (yes, I am that crazy lady) and the occasional chocolate delight. My business Facebook page is the place for you to get social media and communication skills tips. Still, although Facebook is my social space, I try to avoid posting nonsense. After all, you never know when an international radio show producer will find you.

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Anyway, Ade invited me to join him at a recording of a London radio show for an Australian station, which is why I found myself in a quaint Bloomsbury theatre-cum-art gallery with an eclectic mix of British stage stars and recording artists – including Robbie Williams’ backing singer, the original female lead in the West End’s Phantom of the Opera and the legendary Freddie Mercury’s partner, Peter Straker.

But the masterpiece that blew me metaphorically to Melbourne and back was Aussie pianist Warren Wills, the radio show’s host, who belted out such an incredible Bowie compilation on the grand piano that goosebumps completed a Mexican wave all over my body. I didn’t tweet any of this at the time because I was glued there, mesmerised, but you can hear the performance on a podcast. Such nice people. Such enviable talent.

At the same event, the sister of one of my 80’s musical heroes approached me to help market her novel – a historical rhyming book that I haven’t yet read but will be downloading from Amazon before we meet next week to talk about a marketing campaign.

A second instance of a personal social media connection concerns another gallery and a different group of artists. My friend and colleague Martyn Royce took me to the launch of his summer exhibition at a contemporary gallery in Pall Mall. Momentarily standing alone to sip my champagne, a man started chatting to me, and – to cut an hour’s conversation into a snippet of a sentence – we ended up as Facebook friends.

Although he lives 150 miles away, social media showed that he was born in my town and – this was really quite unbelievable – he’d actually lived in my road and played with my neighbour as a child!  He’s now a leatherworker who does Viking re-enactments, demonstrating his craft at country shows up and down the UK; pretty cool.

A couple of days later I was at the V&A’s Frida Kahlo exhibition with my friend Caroline, coincidentally my neighbour’s sister – and she remembered him well. I’m putting them all in touch with each other as I write – multitasking at its best.

So, one week, two new Facebook friends, three galleries, a lot of fun and doors opening to new business opportunities.  Can’t be bad, eh?

Do remember though, your personal Facebook page shouldn’t be your business façade. Here are a few tips for managing it sensibly for business.

Top Tips

  • Only accept people as friends if you know them or can see a tangible connection.
  • If you want to keep business and social strictly separate, it’s absolutely fine – and not rude – to refer people to your business page and explain that you keep your personal profile for family and close friends.
  • Blend your personal and business pages when appropriate, share business updates and vice versa, but delineate the line between professional and fun.
  • Review your personal profile settings regularly to ensure only people you want to see your personal information can access it.
  • Avoid sharing negative personal updates. While some people use this tactic for engaging with friends, it’s not good practice if you’re hoping to be seen by current or future clients.
  • Don’t include ridiculous or drunken photos, swearing or anything else that falls into the realms of unprofessionalism.

Yell if you need any help with your Facebook presence!

Blogging: keywords that come back to bite your bum

I’ve waited a long time for TV stardom.  Not since my BBC appearance with Prince William have I received so much media attention…

I’ve run training courses on the art of blogging and, obviously, driven home the importance of incorporating keywords into website content so that businesses can be found easily for that particular thing. Websites benefit from blogging due to increased traffic, businesses benefit by establishing their expertise, and potential customers benefit by being offered the product or service they require in a smooth, seamless fashion.

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When I blogged about my Club 18-30s holiday I didn’t mark the tour operator’s name as a keyword, as I aim to be found for social media marketing, training, LinkedIn coaching and plain English business writing.  They’re my keywords. The 18-30s story was just a bit of fun.  But what GOES ONLINE STAYS ONLINE! When 18-30s decided to close its doors on 24-hour partying, cocktails and banging on the beach, the media did a quick online search for its own keywords – and bingo! Up I popped!!

So it was this blog, written a few years ago, that led to Radio 5 interviewing me – and, subsequently – to BBC’s The One Show requesting my presence at a filming session to be shown on a Friday night’s prime time TV.

Filming was a lot of fun! The crew met me at the allotted location with their cameras, lights and boom boom equipment, and presented me with a delicious cocktail. (Mocktail actually – well, it was only 9am and we’re not in Ibiza in 1984 now.) I was astounded by the amount of time it takes to put together a one-minute snippet of film. Three hours later I was recounting my story for the umpteenth time and we were all firm friends.

So, three questions….

  1. Are you using your keywords to their best advantage?
  2. Can you create interesting stories that may not be directly about your business but link back to it in some way, giving a new audience the opportunity to find you?
  3. Do you stay mindful that what you post on social media stays there for a very long time?

If you’ve answered no to any of these, I’ll be happy to give you some tips to set you on the right path – the path to social media marketing success, I mean, not to wild teenage holidays!

Did Club 18-30 collapse due to ego-tourism – a social media trend?

You may have heard me interviewed this morning on BBC Radio 5 Live about the demise of Club 18-30 Holidays. The researcher that called asked about my opinion from a social media perspective, but the on-air discussion was more about our photo in the funny advertising brochure.

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The BBC found me via this four-year-old blog: Being quizzical, a specialist subject and Club 18-30 – not for the faint-hearted. I don’t remember the quiz mentioned in the blog but I certainly remember all the salient points of the 1984 trip to Ibiza!

Anna Foster, the morning show’s presenter, asked about the story leading up to my friend Gill and I  being photographed for the 18-30 brochure. She twice mentioned my social media business but, as the focus was on holiday memories, we didn’t get a chance to discuss my professional views live on air.

Club 18-30 is ending after a 50-year run, due to – according to its owner Thomas Cook – the preference for ‘ego-tourism,’ a term I hadn’t even heard of before.  Of course people want to look good on social media, but it’s not a mirror into people’s lives; it’s a reflection of what they want others to see.  Can the company really claim that people choose their holidays based on the fact they want other people to see what a fabulous place they’re in? Isn’t it more a case of simply wanting to be in that wonderful place precisely because it’s lovely and that’s where you want to be?

Naturally, I looked at Club 18-30’s social media before I chatted with the radio team. The business has a good following – 150,000 Facebook followers, yet the level of engagement is incredibly poor with hardly anyone liking posts or sharing the content. The brand is failing to engage with its target market, and this must surely be a larger contributing factor in its downfall than ego-tourism.

Anyway, my thanks for BBC5 for promoting me even though the talk show veered towards memories rather than business, and apologies to BBC4 who also called, but the timings clashed. How nice to be in demand by the national media – I thought my paparazzi days were over since my televised meeting with Prince William – but that’s another story!

What is legitimate interest? A plain English guide to this confusing topic

Are you GDPR’d out yet?

Last month, I explained my interpretation of ‘consent’ for GDPR.  The other reason many people will rely on for keeping in touch with their mailing list is “legitimate interest.”

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If you’re doing business with someone, you have a contract or you’re negotiating for one, legitimate interest definitely applies.  Consensus among the people I network with is that, if you have built your list from people you’ve met who know what you do and can reasonably expect to receive email about your business, this is a valid reason to stay in touch and can be classed as a legitimate interest. Do you agree?

Again, I recommend Suzanne Dibble’s super video collection for anyone who is uncertain about any aspect of GDPR, and some of the following information is taken from her marketing video. She suggests that, unless any e-privacy laws, ethics or industry standards are broken, in most cases direct marketing can be classed as a legitimate interest.  (There are some caveats.)

The key questions to ask yourself are:

  • Is the way you use people’s data ‘proportionate, with minimal privacy impact and people wouldn’t be surprised to receive it from you?
  • Could people reasonably expect to receive this information from you?
  • Have you worked through the “Three stage test?” This includes assessing the purpose for emailing them, ensuring it’s necessary for the purpose, and filling in a ‘balancing form’ to show whether the legitimate interest is overridden by the person’s rights or freedom. Also, did you keep a record of your ‘legitimate interest outcome’?
  • Can they opt out of receiving your emails? (If you use Mailchimp, as I do, there’s always been an unsubscribe button.)
  • Is your privacy policy lovely and clear?
  • Are people likely to object to receiving your email? And further – are they likely to object if you explained your reasoning to them? If the answer’s yes, you can’t count on legitimate interest.
  • Is whatever you’re sending likely to cause them harm? (The example Suzanne Dibble uses is people in debt receiving regular targeted emails from loan sharks or gambling websites, which can have a “significant negative effect.” If the answer’s yes, you can’t do it.)

Please note that, apparently, the ICO says that you shouldn’t rely on legitimate interest just because it seems easier to apply than consent.

That’s all I’m covering on GDPR now – and hopefully forever! Please remember that this is my own interpretation of legitimate interest; it doesn’t mean I’m correct, but I’m offering it as food for thought – or rather, fodder for further research if you think it will work for you.

So how are you deciding which legal basis to use in future? Will it be legitimate interest, consent or one of the other options?

Ten tips for using Social Media responsibly for your business

Of course, it goes without saying that social media is an excellent way to market your business. Many owners of small businesses (including me!) mix their professional and personal social media. It’s worth keeping in mind that one person’s lively banter could be seen as offensive to someone else. So, here are ten tips to keep you and your business out of trouble…

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  1. Social media can blur the boundary between your public and professional lives; stay aware of your personal image and how it may impact on your professional standing.
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  2. Anything you post can become a permanent record, there forever to be referred to, shared and re-shared beyond your control. Remember that there’s no such thing as a safe throwaway comment on social media.
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  3. Compromising photos may reflect badly on your business, even if you didn’t take or post the photo. Keep an eye on who’s posting what if you’re involved in any shenanigans!
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  4. Don’t forget that comments made in a personal capacity can bounce back to bite you, your business and, possibly, your whole industry.
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  5. Know how to adjust your privacy settings to keep personal stuff personal.
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  6. Think about your ethical and legal duty to protect other people’s confidentiality.
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  7. Beware of posting informal, personal or derogatory comments about anyone on your professional social media. Aside from it being rude, you don’t want to risk opening yourself to defamation and libel laws if your words are construed as unlawful. (Defamation law can apply to any comments posted on the web made in either a personal or professional capacity.)
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  8. If you come across comments made by others on social media that you find irritating, offensive or just plain wrong, think carefully before responding. Commenting will increase the visibility of the original comment and if other people jump onboard, the whole conversation can grow exponentially.
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  9. Without facial expressions or body language, it can be easy for people to misconstrue the meaning of your words in written social media. You and I might think something’s funny, but someone else could view it as sarcasm or rudeness.
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  10. Aim to be consistent across social media. If you present yourself very differently on LinkedIn and Facebook, it’s possible that people might question your business integrity.
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Social media has always been an overwhelming minefield, but with the GDPR data protection laws all around it’s better to be just a touch more vigilant than before. Feel free to drop me an email if you need help with anything social media-related.