It’s that time of year again. The season for pumpkin lattes? Nope- a Facebook hoax is making the rounds again, giving users false hope that a simple status update will lock down their accounts and protect the photos and videos they share and make sure the Facebook stays free for them. The status contains a sentence that intends to prevent Facebook from using your content. According to the rumor, pasting the message on your wall prevents Facebook from using your photos or anything else on your profile for their benefit.
The problem? It doesn't work. As one of our Team Impulse members, Nick, put it “The only way to change your privacy settings is by going to the privacy settings.” Good thinking, Nick!
Just like last time, and all the times before that, posting this status doesn’t do anything. And despite the fact that every other it time has been proven false, people are still willing to believe it is true now. The reasons why should be studied by marketers, social media experts, and entrepreneurs.
Anything You Do Can Go Viral
Everything you post on social media has the potential to go viral and spread throughout the entire world. That’s great! That’s exciting! That’s exactly what you want! Right? This also means that you can’t always control exactly who is sharing what about your company. Be cautious online, and keep it mind that nothing you share or post has to stay just between your company’s account and your followers. The last thing your small business needs is bad press because a joke or argument with a disgruntled customer is shared with everyone.
People Trust Social Media
More people than ever before trust social media as a place to get real news. This seems to be especially true for millennials and younger users, who have only ever known a digital world. So just like someone may get on Twitter to get real-time updates about a sports game, they see facebook as a place to share fact, not fiction. If a few of their friends share the same thing, they begin to believe it. That shows the scary power of both social media and reviews of your business online.
Facts Need to be Checked Before They’re Shared
If you are the one in control of a business’s social media postings, it’s crucial to fact check anything before you share it. It seems obvious, but all too often it doesn’t happen: fact check, fact check and fact check again before publishing stories. Without doing your research, you risk breaking trust with your customers and the public. If you post this hoax, who is going to believe you when your next post is saying that your company only uses organic materials or your employees are the happiest in the community?
Use social media, and all of the Internet, to your company’s advantage. But remember, if you are sharing a story or piece that someone else has written, research and check background facts, even if you think others have already done it. As a business, your customers and social media followers expect this from you and you owe it to them, even if it takes a little extra time. Sharing a hoax or untrue story on Facebook or Twitter greatly diminishes the trust people have in your brand. One of the big pieces of content creation is to make you a thought leader in your industry, and that requires the effort to ensure all of your facts are straight.
Really, it's pretty clear that this is another hoax, but I'll probably be back in a few months to write another blog when it circulates again. Running your company’s social media accounts can be tricky. For extra help, download our free eBook Social Media for Business.