Social Media: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Cheryl Catts

July 16, 2013

I’m currently flying somewhere over the Rocky Mountains. There’s a big blue sky overhead and a lot of puffy white clouds below. Every time I fly I’m amazed by the speed at which I can get from point A to point B, the beauty of seeing the world from above, and how aerodynamics even work. This time, however, I’m a little bummed by the turbulence at takeoff (and visions of the plane falling from the sky) and the fact that I just found out that a tiny plastic cup of Diet Coke now costs $1.99! What?? When did that start?

Flying is amazing, so why am I put out by something so ridiculous as paying for my soda? Well, social media can be like that sometimes too. There is a LOT of good to be said about it – were that not the case it would have died out a long time ago (along with rickshaws and wagons). Like flying, it allows us to connect with our audience however near or far, helps us understand what makes them tick, and allows us to reach them in spaces where our advertising couldn’t have dreamed of going 10 years ago. But sometimes those people post negative things about businesses, or even worse, your business.

So before we throw the baby out with the bathwater let’s remember that there are good, bad and ugly sides to everything (everything). Now it’s our responsibility to make the most of what we’ve been given. As we figure out how to apply the GOOD sides of social media to our business, we can be more profitable, efficient and relevant.

There are a lot of sources out there that outline the pros and the cons of social media, but they will be different for each of us, and for our business. And what’s good for you might be invasive or inappropriate to the next guy. The rapid spread of information might work well for important and timely information, but cause problems if it’s untrue, slanderous or controversial.

Social media can connect us to groups or other businesses, help us stay up to speed on news and current events, and improve search engine optimization. On the other hand, we might feel overwhelmed by all of the attention it demands to have paid to it, or the concern for the transparency of our company and policies.

So if you’re feeling bogged down by the pay-for-soda aspects of social media, allow yourself some time to determine what’s working well in your business. It might help to make a table, outlining the good and the bad as you see it (like this one). As you do so you will likely see that even the negative side can be counteracted with a good strategy for how you communicate with your audience, and in clearly understanding your purpose in the social space. Cheers!