Social Media Can Change The World In An Instant

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“How can social media make an impact on my business (or brand, or other marketing efforts)?”

This is hands down the question I hear the most as a social media strategist.

Many people know they need to be on social media, but aren’t sure why. As someone who has been “plugged in” since the years of Telnet, I’ve watched with both fascination – and sometimes fright! – the shift in the dynamics of social networking.

Recently, I witnessed two more very real examples of just how much we rely on social media and the major influence that can have on society. A little more than a week after Twitter broke news of the tragic bombings at the Boston Marathon, it briefly became the center of attention again Tuesday with the hacking of the Associated Press’s own Twitter account.

Once a source of distraction, social networks like Twitter and Google+ have increasingly become a place where individuals turn for news and information. Therefore, news outlets including CNN, FOX, MSNBC and the Associated Press use sites such as Twitter to deliver breaking news updates directly to their audiences.

Because so many people are now accustomed to the instantaneous information they see on social media, they tend to react quickly – without checking the facts. The fake tweet that went out early Tuesday, claiming two explosions in the White House had injured President Obama, was quickly retweeted hundreds of times.

In the roughly 10 minutes it took the Associated Press to regain control of its account and discredit the tweet, the Dow Industrial Average dropped more than 140 points.

So, why is this important to you?

From a business perspective, social media can have an equally big impact. It can potentially spread your message to hundreds of thousands of people, giving you visibility that previously could only be attained through traditional mass media.
Inversely, mistakes can be devastating.

Know who you are trusting with your accounts, if you are not up keeping them yourself; it takes only one bad comment to potentially ruin your credibility.

Have a plan of action if something happens. Unfortunately, hacking is a risk commonly associated with social media. The faster you can regain control of the account, the less potential for damage.

Most importantly remember: What you say on social media carries weight no matter who you are. This goes two-fold for industries and individuals who have established or are trying to establish themselves as experts in their respective fields. Make sure that the information being shared is well researched, accurate and meaningful. If in doubt, wait and confirm the source before moving forward.

Like it or not, social media is here to stay. It’s embedded itself into the fabric of our culture and emerged as a living subculture of its own. Now, things get interesting.

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