Recently, I have been given several items for ‘personal protection.’ Partly because a girl can never be too careful and also I have excellent friends and family who want me to be safe.

But amidst my flash-o-taser (flash light with a taser on it), Kimber (a plastic-looking squirt gun filled with foam mace), keychain Kubotan (a hard plastic ‘handle’ for keys and it comes with an entire how-to guide), expandable baton and lastly my safety whistle (which blown with force can make your ears bleed), there is huge possibility for unintentional self-harm.

Clocking many hours of in-depth research on how to properly use these tools, the items now offer a sense of security and peace of mind.

Well now how to parlay all of this into a lesson on marketing …  …

Social MediaIn the months and years since social media’s insurgence into the life and times of pretty much everything, we have seen constant examples of people, brands, companies and celebrities doing themselves great harm because the repercussions of speaking openly and unfiltered wasn’t discussed prior to the all-too-alluring pressing of the Post’ ‘Tweet’ or ‘Send’ buttons. …

This is of great concern to those in the world of digital strategy as we make a living helping clients make calculated strategic decisions in brand, sales, online marketing and in communication – all of which are forward-facing outlets reaching consumers.

With the emergence of the role of Digital Strategy and Social Media Managers, one might even wonder why these two positions aren’t rolled up into one and there is a valid argument for that – especially if your strategist is a content whiz.

But more often than not, employers are leaning towards recent college graduates as Social Media Managers and are counting on their over-active prowess within the social media space to spawn engagement among consumers, past, present and future.

Not discounting that a Social Media Manager position is a great job for an aspiring marketing genius, there is a definite need for those holding this position to think of the medium in which they communicate with potential customers as a means brand perceptions, attributes and reputation are honed.

In short, just because a person uses social media on a regular basis doesn’t mean they are armed with the business savvy, communication skills and the creative acumen to message and interact with your customers.

See, in the hands of a communications newbie, who is used to utilizing unfiltered dialogue and has only interacted with a few hundred like-minded peers, a few family members and a handful of others they wouldn’t normally speak to while walking down the hall, but will ‘friend’ on Facebook, there has got to be a basic style and engagement protocol that not only spawns conversation but also does not tarnish the brand image.

Social Media tools are community-generating assets that brands and businesses need to use to engage interest, get people talking and also to distill information other advertising mediums just don’t reach. It is organic. It is meant to be conversational and it is meant to be personal.

Digital strategists understand this – as most have been using social media since its inception – in fact, many of the top strategists today were on the cutting edge of social media at top media companies around the world. They know what it means to truly engage an audience through the unobtrusive use of status updates, tweets and more.

For those personally engaged in social media to promote their exploits, tout their idiotic pranks or pontificate random thoughts and insight, Social Media is indeed a personal playground of information, fun and folly – and we all love it for this reason.

But when in the hands of the inexperienced, where brands, companies, image and reputation are concerned, the Social Media arsenal is full of weapons that can just as certainly paralyze, maim, break or kill — all it takes is one ill-calculated slip of the ‘send’ button … and empires can fall.

After all, just because I have an arsenal of personal protection at my disposal and I know how to use it, doesn’t mean I should take unsafe risks. And just because a person is an avid user of social media doesn’t mean they’re qualified to represent your business.

Social Media is powerful. It’s a shame to misuse it.

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