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Who Are You Associating Yourself With Via Social Media?

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Should You Be Sharing That?

By Alyson Duncan

Social media is an amazing tool. Never before has it been so easy to connect with people from all over the world. Gone are the days when having friends on the other side of the country (or indeed the world) meant infrequent long distance calls and even more infrequent letters in the mail – that’s snail mail.. you know with a paper and pen! These days it is easy to chat with these people on a daily basis thanks to social networks like Facebook and Twitter. However, there is also a problem with using social media : people are sheep!

Why Social Media Users Are Like Sheep

10409446_1201924213228613_5272403661629196617_nNow some of you are probably asking yourself, ‘what the heck does she mean by that?’ It’s pretty simple really. Human beings are a herd race and we are predisposed to follow. When one person does something another follows suit and so on until it becomes common practice. Now you are asking what that has to do with social media. I have a point, I promise! The biggest problem is that we see something on social media which has been posted by a friend and we have a couple of different options :

  1. Ignore it and move on.
  2. Comment on or Like it.
  3. Share it with or without a comment.
  4. Research it before doing one of the above.

Most of us will stick with options 1 through 3. You may remember an earlier post that I wrote on the topic of like farming, where I discussed how important it was to pay attention to what you are liking because most of it is a scam! Unfortunately I still find myself constantly having to direct people to that article or to a listing of Snopes or Facecrooks that debunks their post. Then in the last month or so I began to notice something even more concerning. My friends were slowly turning into racists and bigots – or were they?

Britain FirstHere in the UK we have a group that portrays themselves as a patriotic political party. In reality they are nothing more than fascists. They are well known for spreading hate among their followers regarding anyone who is not white and British. Frankly I don’t particularly want to give them air time here, but they did alert me to this particular issue. In a darker twist on the old like farming trick, this group have started placing stories and images on their Facebook page that was designed to tug at the heart strings of those who were not initially taken in by their propaganda. A recent example that springs to mind was a story about a dog that had been starved and its owner avoided jail time. This was accompanied by a harrowing image of said dog and a prompt to like/share if you agreed he should be punished. Of course you agree, poor little guy. So there you are with your finger hovering over the share button, but you pause and look to see where the origin of this post is and lo and behold it is this group. That’s not someone I want to be associated with, so I don’t share. Other examples lately have been images of veterans to mark D-Day and posts about child abuse. Literally hundreds of my friends have shared these posts. Now when I pointed it out, most of them have been shocked and have deleted it from their wall which leads me to believe that no they are not suddenly racist and/or fascist, they just don’t take the time to actually stop and look at what they are sharing.

What Are The Consequences of Negative Association?

For a personal social media user you might think that the worst that can happen is that your friends might think poorly of you because of who you are associated with online, but what if I told you that it could affect your chances of getting a job? A growing number of employers (2 in 5) are now looking to social media as a way to check out candidates during the interview process. In fact, Forbes Magazine suggests that 34% of employers who use social media to screen applicants have rejected candidates because of something posted on social media.

For a business user the consequences could be even worse. Think carefully about what you connect your social media account to and even who is managing your page because the way that you can represent yourself online can have a huge impact on your bottom line. Let’s take a look at a couple of examples. One which I experienced for myself involved a local produce delivery service. I started doing batch cooking on a monthly basis to not only save money, but to help make our eating habits a little healthier. I already had a butcher to purchase meat and poultry from and I needed to find somewhere to get fruit and vegetables. I wanted something better than the local supermarket so I was checking out farm shops and the like. Then out of the blue I was driving home and saw a van delivering produce in my area so I noted the name and looked them up on Facebook. The photos of their produce looked fresh, there were lots of positive comments and the price was right. I was sold. At least I was until 2 days later when something popped up on my newsfeed – a selfie from one of their drivers with a caption discussing how hungover he was and that he was going to have to stop and smoke some cannabis to get himself together as he had a long day at work. Inexplicably, the company decided to share this on their business page!

Now don’t get me wrong. I am not judging anyone who wants to drink or partake in whatever recreational activity you choose. That’s your choice. However, I am going to judge anyone who gets behind the wheel of a vehicle while under the influence of anything and I certainly don’t want you delivering my food when you are posing a danger to others – what if you pulled up to my house and hit my car, or worse – my son – because you are not in full control of your vehicle. Sorry, but the instant you posted that image and it appeared in my feed you lost my business and I relayed the story to my family and friends. So maybe 10 to 15 people isn’t a huge deal, but to a local business it could be and I am fairly sure some others might have reacted in the same way.

Don’t Follow The Herd

There is an easy solution to this issue. Every time you think about sharing something, especially on your business page take a moment and think about the potential impact it could have. Ask yourself where it came from and whether or not there are any negative associations with the source before you share it with your followers. Better yet, create your own engaging content – your audience deserves something new instead of sharing the same old viral content.

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