“This software you recommended doesn’t work. I want a refund!”
“Sorry, but I wouldn’t dream of recommending that product.”
“It’s on your website! I trusted your company to give me the right advice. Are you telling me now I can’t believe what you write?”
This recent exchange over a third party ad on a computer advice website illustrates the risks people and businesses have when they post online. Even if it isn’t something you’ve done yourself.
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Anything online that has your business or personal name attached makes you accountable to the entire world. This was one of the points in our recent discussion about why advertising may not be suitable for your business website.
So you need to be careful with what’s posted online in your name or by your employees. A few weeks back we discussed how one engineering company deals with employees using social media, with the basic rule you have to act online with the same professionalism as you would in your work dealings.
That professionalism also extends to your online ethics. If you are making recommendations it’s best not to receive commissions, rebates or freebies and if you choose to then you need to be clear about your affiliations.
It’s not just websites; Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, any of the dozens of other social media services or the thousands of web forums hold just as many traps for ill considered comments.
The key rule is to never post anything online that you’d be embarrassed to explain to your mum.
There’s a million voices online and if you’re not one of the trusted ones you’ll be lost in the massive crowd. Your reputation is your most valuable asset.
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Paul Wallbank is a writer, speaker and broadcaster on technology issues. He founded national support organisation PC Rescue in 1995 and has spent over 14 years helping businesses get the most from their IT investment. His PC Rescue and IT Queries websites provide free advice to business computer users and his monthly newsletter has over 3,000 subscribers.