As a small business owner, you carefully guard your online reputation. You devote large amounts of time to maintaining your Facebook and Twitter accounts and you wouldn’t dream of posting anything the slightest bit unprofessional. Sure, you may follow the goings-on of the Kardashians avidly in your spare time, but why would you post about it on your business account?
Unfortunately, many Facebook users have been doing just that. And the worst part is, they didn’t even realize they’d done it. Sites like Socialcam have been automatically posting videos viewed by Facebookers directly into their timelines, which alerts everyone who gets their newsfeeds to see them.
While that’s bad enough for Aunt Sarah, it can severely damage the reputation of a small business owner. Say, for instance, you see an enticing news item about Justin Bieber in the ads on Facebook. You click to see what it’s all about, not realizing that everyone who subscribes to your updates on Facebook will see it. Since you’re logged into your business account on Facebook, anything posted to your timeline represents not only you, but your entire business. A few customers see you as unprofessional and you’ve lost not only a few Facebook fans, but some customers as well.
Evan Stein, owner of CMIT Solutions in New York, has been warning clients about this issue for a while. Stein is happy to announce the company is finally doing something about it. After being admonished by privacy advocates, the company announced it would be changing its app so that the auto-post feature is set to off by default, requiring users to change it if they want to share what they view with everyone.
However, Stein is quick to point out that Socialcam isn’t the only app automatically posting information to users’ timelines. He points to two apps that also post information on items viewed–Washington Post Social Reader and Spotify. The only way to truly prevent this from happening is to take control of your apps.
“Hiding such notifications is quite easy,” Stein says. “Simply hover your mouse over the notification, and a drop-down arrow will appear. Click the arrow and then select ‘Hide all by (name of app).’”
While you’re tweaking your notifications, this is a good time to take a look at all of your apps. You set these posting preferences when you install the app, then forget about them. There may be apps that automatically post information about your activities to your timeline, but there may also be apps that send information about your activities to the company that provided the app. By regularly auditing your app preferences, you can make sure nothing is being shared about you that you don’t authorize.
“Whether or not you want to install these apps on your Facebook page is, of course, up to you,” Stein says. “However, definitely don’t install them on your company’s Facebook page. Appearing obsessed with Jersey Shore to your friends and family is one thing, but it’s probably something best kept hidden from your customers.”