Social media – the good, the bad and the ugly

Weighing up the pros and cons of allowing your staff to use social media and when being ‘viral’ used to be a matter for the GP…

There’s no use trying to avoid it – whether you’re nine or 90, social media is all around us.
We truly are now living in the digital age, with Buckingham Palace and Pope Francis both having Facebook accounts and every celebration and commiseration re-tweeted time and again for the whole world to share.
I remember when I was a child that something being viral meant the doctors didn’t really know what was wrong with you, but these days it’s the sign that your views, stories or opinions have raced across the world – for good or for bad. But what does it mean for our businesses on a real level?
A 2009 survey by IT services group Morse found that staff who use Twitter or other social networking sites while at work are costing UK businesses £1.38 billion every year and, in 2010, a My Job Group survey reported that 33% of those involved admitted to having spoken negatively about their workplace, with 19% of those criticising the boss or owner of the business and 13% criticising peers.
These are startling statistics but they have to be balanced with the obvious benefits of such a wide reaching marketing tool.
Twitter, for example, first launched in 2006 and this year had clocked up 645,750,000 users registered worldwide.This is phenomenal growth, and a wider captive audience than you could get almost anywhere else.  Similarly, LinkedIn, which is widely accepted as the go-to business networking tool, had more than 350 million registered users as of April 2015, acquiring two new members per second!
It is, in my opinion, impossible to stand on either side of the fence with social media. There is good and bad in all of it, so my advice is to know the facts and prepare your business. Make sure that social media, your business and your biggest marketing team – your staff, are working together in harmony.
Over the coming weeks, I’ll be publishing a series of blogs which will take a closer look at the good, the bad and the ugly of the social media specifically focusing on how it can affect business and employment and what you can do to make it work for you. Watch this space!
In the meantime, if you have any questions about social media, get in touch on 0131 557 6966, or email

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Andrew Cockburn is based in Edinburgh. As part of the Jordans Group, he provides clients within the SME, legal, accountancy and wider professional communities with access to a comprehensive range of corporate legal services, including company formation, company law advice and general company compliance throughout the UK.