Sharing online is no more an afterthought but something we do instinctively. Whether we are business owners, consultants or just regular people, we all tend to share more than what we would bargain for. The consequences of oversharing online can be very messy. It is no secret that people who overshare may get fired by their bosses, lose scholarships, get divorced because their spouses find out they are not being faithful and the reasons can go on. Probably, the scariest reason why one mustn’t be oversharing online is to prevent identity thefts, security lapses and privacy breaches. If we must consider why small businesses and companies must not overshare online, it is pretty similar to why regular folks must not overshare. However, there are a few differences and let us take a look at them closely.
Companies and small businesses may give out more information than necessary. This is very crucial when competitors are always trying to find out what a company is up to, and if there are any new products and services in the line. Employees and even business owners must be very careful to keep company secrets within the compound of a company and never reveal more than what’s revealed in those harmless blog posts. Competitors and malicious entities always wait for something to be revealed so that they can manipulate leaked information.
If you are not a public company and if you are a small one, only your accountant and tax officer needs to know your financial details. Confidential information such as pay slips, profits made and debts need not be shared online even humorously. There are several instances when small business owners do not realize how important it is to not disclose financial information online.
Credit Card and ID Card Information
Credit cards, passports and other government issues ID cards must be guarded like gold. These identity cards should never be shared online no matter how important it is. This can affect not only your business but also your own personal safety and the consequences may not be pretty.
Giving Away too much for Free
It is often said that one must give away a lot to succeed in digital media. That is certainly true. When a company gives away a lot of free information and knowledge, it appears generous and sympathetic towards its followers. However, by giving away too much and not withholding some information that can be used as bait, a company stands to lose a lot of money. The red line needs to be drawn, in order to identify how much to give away for free. Everything should not be given away for free.
Embarrassing Details are Not Funny
There are many businesses that share pictures of employees having fun at a party or when employees do not look as professional as they should. The key is to share pictures at the beginning of a party when everyone looks sober, but not during or after the party. A human face to the company can make it endearing to customers. However, appearing goofy or ridiculous will encourage customers to move on to the next rival.
Plans for Future
There is always a limit to how much you can share about your company’s plans for future. There are things that need to be kept confidential. What is benign can be shared online but certain plans and strategies which must remain confidential must never be discussed on social networking sites. These can severely hinder a company’s progress and cause loss to revenue.
Separating Work from Life
It is always a good idea to encourage your employees to have a personal Twitter account along with a professional one. The personal one can be used at will with all the freedom a person deems necessary. The professional Twitter account needs to remain a little stiff upper lipped, and that includes not talking about what one purchased at the local brewery. The key is to maintain a balance. It is a social world on the Internet and it is impossible to remain cold and businesslike. However, by letting one’s guard down, one may risk overexposure and face subsequent consequences.
Mitt Romney famously said that corporations are people too. Though it is a controversial statement, on the Internet and social network, companies and small businesses do pretend to be people. When people are advised not to overshare on social networking sites, the same rule holds good for companies and small businesses as well.