We live in a world where social media reigns supreme over the thoughts of the people. Whether it be truth or lie, fact or fiction, a celebrity vs a professor, everybody who is anybody puts everything on social media and this has led to a rather scary truth… social media can either make or break your life, career, business, relationships, and more. Even if a post is wrong, the more it is shared and liked, the more “true” it becomes… kind of like that saying, “if you tell a lie enough times people will eventually believe it.” The thought that Facebook alone can build or destroy your life is mind boggling to those from the generation before the i-generation, but it is true, even if you don’t understand or like it.
One thoughtless comment, or something “liked” when half-asleep and scrolling on your phone, can either attract droves of potential clients or instantly turn your biz into a digital ghost town. A questionable picture, half-heartedly liked because you had a moment of silly thoughts, could send your girlfriend packing. A vague comment typed out of boredom one day, like, “I’d like to punch all the dumb people in my life” could have the unintended but understandable effect of sending some of your best friends to the dark side. To illustrate this point further, we are going to share some recent Facebook exploits that have done just this to some people on the web.
First, to illustrate how a good Facebook idea can build a business, let’s look at K-mart’s “Ship my Pants” campaign. With over 3 million likes on Facebook, this “viral video” has been shared and viewed in a participatory way (as in, someone saw, someone liked, someone went through the trouble of sharing), whereas most commercials on the TV get muted so people can jump up for snacks. K-mart has been a sinking brand these last 5 years, with stock falling fast as the target audience chooses to shop at cooler stores. But this hip video with funny stuff aimed at the younger, techie crowd actually got noticed and was voted the 4th most popular ad in the year 2013, just because of Facebook likes and shares. K-mart just might make it, financially, all due to the social media world of click-to-click advertising!
And then… there was BatKid San Francisco! When Make-A-Wish Foundation made a little leukemia victim’s dream come true by dressing him up as Batman and letting him save “Gotham City” (San Francisco), little did they know their donations were going to go up a whopping 26% after videos, pictures and myriad social media were shared of the event. So many Facebook likes! So many Facebook shares! So…many…donations! This was astounding, all powered by the people who found this interesting and promoted it for free.
There are many other examples of companies utilizing Facebook like this. Stumbling upon the next “viral video” or coming up with a catchy quotable quote, however, are not as easy as they sound. More often, Facebook works the other way. One bad hamburger served at your restaurant to a guy with his smartphone in his pocket, could be the beginning of a very bad business season after said guy decides his day is so rotten he’s going to share pictures and disparaging remarks about his bad hamburger with the world. We don’t know why misery loves company, but statistics show over and over that a complaint will garner hundreds of sympathizers and fellow complainers, while a compliment may have a paltry few here and there, mostly from the goody two-shoes crowd. ‘Tis the fall of human nature perhaps.
Easy access via our smartphones to social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and, erm, Google+ means that we can spat something out without thinking twice about it or the consequences. Gone are the days when a kid could think something stupid but, before he could scrawl it on a brick wall for everyone to see, something his wonderful grandma said once upon a time could pop into his head and make him decide to skip it. Nope. You can blurt that right out there, right this second and get it off your chest, rendering you potentially unhirable by future employers, causing lifelong friends or relatives to instantly unfriend you (great, now they can’t see your apology posting tomorrow!) and, if you have a business,”bye-bye customers.”
Some of us did really stupid things like lying or making up stories for sympathy, and were rightly punished by our peers. But at least it didn’t go viral! What about this gal, Danyel Morales, who made up a story about herself getting treated badly for being gay? A server at Gallop Asian Bistro in Bridgewater N.J., Morales allegedly doctored a receipt with some demeaning explanations as to why she wasn’t getting a tip, then posted in on Facebook. It didn’t take long for the actual people who paid for that receipt to come forward with their clean versions and show that they did indeed tip the waitress, and never said anything about her being gay. What do you think happened to Morales? Fired, of course. But now we have a new term for what happened to her… she was Facebook-fired.
There are many people getting fired over dumb things they’ve posted on Facebook, so many that there are even websites devoted to sharing the stories. You think your opinion is your own? Not these days! Dan Leone, employed by the Philadelphia Eagles as a stadium operations worker voiced his dismay at the Eagles’ decision to let a player go to the Denver Broncos. He posted a tantrum about it on his own personal Facebook and was fired, even though he deleted the offending post.
While Facebook is a great way to keep in touch with far-away relatives and friends in one handy little spot, it can definitely be two-faced. We hope that these success and demise stories will help you think twice about what you put up there for your adoring fans to read (or see, if you’re into posting pictures… please make sure your pictures are something you wouldn’t mind showing your grandma!). It’s important to always keep your nose clean, our grandparents knew that way back in the day… they had no idea how correct their advice would still be today.