Social media takes all of your relationships that otherwise would be separate, and throws them into a single group called “friends.” You have no way to separate out all of these people in your profile as you would in real life. This is the fundamental flaw in social networking that has far-reaching impact. This is also why your boss can see pictures of you or your friends dancing on the top of a bar half-naked. Or your mother can read the comments your friend left about finding you passed out in the bushes.
What Does This Mean to the Business?
Clearly, there is a reputation issue here both for you and for your employer. However, let’s take a closer look at how this single “friends” group structure impacts the business.
Privacy is a term thrown around over and over, and the definition as we know it has been changed — forever. The expectation of privacy online must be re-examined, especially when a business decides to use social networking to conduct business. All of the contacts you have are going to be lumped into the same “friends” list; thus, you may have situations where information between you and one business relationship bleeds out to other contacts with whom you certainly do not want to share. Worse, if the information is covered by regulatory compliance, you will have legal issues on top of reputation and financial issues.
Social media is not going away, and whether you like it or not, the web is going through a major shift. Where the web was once about static content, people now take information about themselves and move around with it. This includes social networking and even how we do business. It’s now about how you foster relationships with consumers that are now in the center of control.
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