With so much fake news on social media, who do you believe? Better yet, how do you, as a small business owner, build trust and credibility, promote your business and stand out amid all the online chatter? Furthermore, how do you avoid or workaround when Google or a social network block you because of what you’re posting?
I try very much not to get into politics on my business accounts and keep my personal views to my personal accounts. However, an article came across my newsfeed that stopped me in my tracks and prompted me to write this piece.
I manage my chiropractor’s website and social media. Dr. French’s practice is about holistic, functional medicine. Ever since I started managing his online marketing I subscribed to Dr. Mercola’s articles because Dr. French has the same philosophy and Dr. Mercola publishes good content that I can share — he’s a trusted source for my client. Dr. Mercola is very vocal about organic foods and healthy, green living and he writes against companies that endanger our food chain. So much so that Google has changed their algorithm to push his content off the first page even though it’s recent and relevant to the search terms!
He’s also been banned from Pinterest. He’s leaving Facebook.
Not to get political, but I am aware of users — businesses and nonprofits — that have been banned or blocked from Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. I tried pinning an article from one of their sites on Pinterest and I was blocked with an error message saying that it was inappropriate content. Who are they to judge what is appropriate or inappropriate content? (Note: I’m not going to get into a free speech argument here or what’s fair and not fair.)
Google and the Social Networks are Privately-Owned Platforms
Let’s say you owned a theater and you wanted to open it up to anyone to use it for free to stage plays, concerts or lectures. One day, you pop in to see who’s rehearsing and find that they are presenting something that you find offensive. Or a neighboring business owner sees a poster and is offended and complains. Now you need to start interviewing and vetting people before you let them use your space. Are you discriminating? What about free speech? Well, it’s your privately owned theater. You can decide who can and cannot present there.
Same goes for the social networks. Look at it all from their shoes. They have the right to censor the content that is posted. They all have user agreements. (You know, the thing that you agreed to, without reading, when you set up your account.) That means terrorists can live-stream bombings and shootings. Or can they? They can try, but their posts will be taken down as soon as the network is made aware of it.
How does this affect your business?
Now, you might be thinking, “I don’t fall into these categories.” Sure, but then you also are competing for users’ attention with everything else that’s out there. People buy from those whom they know and trust. That’s a problem with all of today’s fake news.
The networks and Google are cracking down on fake reviews and fake accounts so you absolutely always want to look authentic and above board.
How do you stand out and not look like fake news?
- Make sure you are transparent in all your social media profiles.
- You have an updated website with a complete About Us page that tells your story.
- Your LinkedIn personal/individual profile has a good, recent, professional-looking head shot so people can see who’s behind the business.
- You have a LinkedIn company profile page with a link to your website. They now have a call-to-action button. Choose “Learn More”.
- Fill out your Facebook about section completely. They’re going to be eliminating some sections, so you need to condense them to the description and products areas.
- Don’t automate thank you tweets. You’re on social media to be social and build relationships with your followers. That’s where new customers and referrals come from.
- All your branding should be consistent throughout your social media profiles and website. You’ll look fishy if you have some fuzzy pictures on some and your picture where your logo should be. It’s your online image. Make it look professional.
- Get real customers to provide you with real testimonials, recommendations and reviews on Google, Facebook and LinkedIn. Encourage them to do so in a thank you email or when they’ve made a purchase. Do not give them an incentive. That’s akin to buying reviews.
- Before you share someone else’s content on your social networks, verify that it’s from a trusted source and that it’s not “click-bait”.
- Don’t create click-bait headlines or social posts. Click-bait is when you write a catchy, enticing headline that has nothing to do with what the article or page is about. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. You don’t want to be labeled fake news or a crook. Moreover, that increases your bounce rate and hurts your SEO.
- If you or your business supports or are passionate about a politically sensitive cause, and that’s what you write and post about, be aware that you may be banned from some of the networks. If you are, let’s schedule a free 15-minute phone call to go over your options.
Will Your Business Be Affected?
Probably not. However, be careful that you’re not following accounts that may be fake. You can’t do much about the fake accounts that are following you. (Furthermore, NEVER BUY fake followers or reviews!) On most of the networks, users can see who you’re following. They should see themselves represented there as well as influencers in your field or industry. That is, people you respect and whose content you’ll share. Those are called trusted sources. (Related: How to Build Your Following Organically)
Now, if you’re wondering if what your publishing can get you in trouble or if you have been banned or suspended from a network, let’s do a free 15-minute phone consult so I can evaluate the situation and see how to overcome it.