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Can Social Media Harm Your Business?

Business English Magazin - epaper ⋅ Ausgabe 2/2020 vom 31.01.2020

Social Media has become a huge part of our lives in recent years, especially in the world of business. But just what are the negative effects? Steve Sibbald logs on to find out.

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Bildquelle: Business English Magazin, Ausgabe 2/2020

Hands up1 who can remember the days when you started up a company and didn’t create a Facebook page? Probably nobody. It’s one of the first things that people are bound to2 ask you; “Do you have an Instagram account?”. “Are you on Twitter, yet?”. Whether it’s to advertise3, interact with4 customers, boost your brand or share information, it’s pretty much imperative5 that you get yourself some kind of online presence. ...

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However, while all will agree that there are huge benefits of getting yourself on the social media circuit6, recent figures suggest that (91) percent of business owners agree that it can bring negative repercussions7. These effects can have such a drastically wide range that it’s often difficult to gauge8 just how exactly such platforms will aid your business.

One of the obvious problems with social media is that is can be terribly time-consuming9. While it may be OK for larger multinational corporations10 to employ teams of young go-getters11 to run and maintain12 their sites, for smaller start-ups this option often isn’t viable. Extra employees mean extra outgoings13, and that’s something very few start-ups can afford.


1 hands up! hændz ʌp Hände hoch! (2) to be bound to do sth tə bi baʊnd tə du ˈsʌmθɪŋ etw. bestimmt tun werden (3) to advertise tu ˈædvətaɪz werben (4) to interact with sb tu ˌɪntəˈrækt wɪð ˈsʌmbədi mit jdm. interagieren (5) imperative ɪmˈperətɪv zwingend, unerlässlich, Notwendigkeit (6) social media circuit ˈsəʊʃl ˈmiːdɪə ˈsɜːkɪt Social Media Arena/Feld (7) repercussion ˌriːpəˈkʌʃn Auswirkung, Echo (8) to gauge sth tə ɡeɪdʒ ˈsʌmθɪŋ etw. abschätzen, beurteilen (9) time-consuming taɪm ˈkənˈsjuːmɪŋ zeitraubend, langwierig (10) multinational corporation (MNC) ˌmʌltiˈnæʃnəl ˌkɔːpəˈreɪʃn ˌem en ˈsiː multinationaler Konzern (11) go-getter ɡəʊ ˈɡetə(r) tatkräftige Person (12) to maintain sth tə meɪnˈteɪn ˈsʌmθɪŋ etw. verwalten, unterhalten

Simply Sidetracked14

Another issue here is not just the amount of time spent uploading15 content16, reading feedback and interacting with clients, but the ease17 with which one can become sidetracked. It’s a slippery slope18 leading from work to pleasure when it comes to19 the likes of20 Facebook, and it’s very easy to find yourself checking friends’ statuses and holiday pics21, when you really should be concentrating on other matters.

Jack Hughes is a 35-year-old from the Scottish capital of Edinburgh. Earlier this year, he and his wife decided they wanted to open a ‘high-end22’ whisky bar - bucking the trend23 of the new breed of24 micro pubs that are currently popping up25 right around the country.

“Obviously whisky is a huge thing up here and we’re hoping to carve out26 our own thing with an exclusive, fancy27 bar that caters for28 the upper end of the market29,” Jack tells BEM. “Of course every venue30, restaurant and pub you go to up here will have whiskies and scotches on the menu, but we are hoping to provide customers with a different vibe31. A more classy32 style, with genuine33 Scottish hospitality34.”

“Both of us have worked in the field previously, but opening our own place will be completely new and one of the things we are currently working on is getting our social media set up,” says Jack.

While anyone with a smartphone can create an account within minutes, knowing how to maintain it, and how best to represent yourself online can take quite a bit of practice and getting used to35. “I’ll be honest, neither myself nor my wife Danielle have had any experience with the likes of Facebook or Twitter. So it’s something we’re learning about, as silly as it might sound. We’ve been looking at other accounts and it seems like it’s going to be quite a lot of hard work.”

Negative Press36

As well the work involved, Jack and Danielle will also have to contend with37 unhappy customers, or other, rival businesses having a platform on which to air38 their views. Whereas39, in the past, guidebooks40 and word of mouth41 were how reviews42 and rumours spread43, these days it’s much simpler.

Dealing with negative press is far from the most enjoyable44 of jobs, and there’s a fine line between fair criticism and45 damning46 attacks - something that many business owners now need to be wary of47. In a competitive48 marketplace, rivals will do almost anything they can to gain the upper hand49. This could be starting viral50 rumours, hijacking51 content, or even creating false52 accounts with which to leave negative reviews on your pages (or the pages of others).

13 outgoings ˈaʊtɡəʊɪŋz Ausgaben (14) to sidetrack sb tə ˈsaɪdtræk ˈsʌmbədi jdn. ablenken (15) to upload sth tu ˌʌpˈləʊd ˈsʌmθɪŋ etw. hochladen (16) content ˈkɒntent Inhalt (17) ease iːz Leichtigkeit (18) slippery slope ˈslɪpəri sləʊp heikle Lage (19) when it comes to sth wen ɪt kʌmz tə ˈsʌmθɪŋ wenn es um etw. geht (20) the likes of X ðə ˈlaɪks əv Leute/Dinge wie X (21) pic ˈpɪk Foto (22) high-end haɪ end Spitzen-, der Extraklasse (nachgestellt) (23) to buck the trend tə bʌk ðə trend sich dem Trend widersetzen (24) new breed of sth njuː briːd əv ˈsʌmθɪŋ neue Art von etw. (25) to pop up somewhere tə pɒp ʌp ˈsʌmweə(r) irgendwo (plötzlich) auftauchen (26) to carve sth out tə kɑːv ˈsʌmθɪŋ aʊt etw. gestalten, herausarbeiten (27) fancy ˈfænsi schick, ausgefallen (28) to cater for sb tə ˈkeɪtə(r) fə(r) ˈsʌmbədi sich auf jdn. ausrichten, auf jdn. abziele (29) upper end of the market ˈʌpə(r) end əv ðə ˈmɑːkɪt oberes Ende des Marktes (30) venue ˈvenjuː Lokal, Veranstaltungsort (31) vibe vaɪb Atmosphäre, Stimmung (32) classy ˈklɑːsi mit Klasse (33) genuine ˈdʒenjʊɪn authentisch (34) hospitality ˌhɒspɪˈtæləti Gastfreundlichkeit (35) sth takes some getting used to ˈsʌmθɪŋ teɪks səm ˈɡetɪŋ ˈjuːst tuː etw. ist gewöhnungsbedürftig (36) negative press ˈneɡətɪv pres negative Presse/ Schlagzeilen (37) to contend with sth tə kənˈtend wɪð ˈsʌmθɪŋ mit etw. fertig werden (38) to air sth tu eə(r) ˈsʌmθɪŋ etw. kundtun, öffentlich darlegen (39) whereas weərˈæz wohingegen (40) guidebook ˈɡaɪdbʊk Ratgeber, Führer (41) word of mouth ˈwɜːd əv maʊθ Mundpropaganda (42) review rɪˈvjuː Rezension, Kritik (43) to spread rumours tə spred ˈruːməz Gerüchte verbreiten, kolportieren (44) enjoyable ɪnˈdʒɔɪəbl angenehm, erfreulich (45) there is a fine line between X and Y ðeə(r) ɪz ə faɪn laɪn bɪˈtwiːn ənd es ist ein schmaler Grat zwischen X und Y (46) damning ˈdæmɪŋ verurteilend, vernichtend (47) to be wary of sth tə bi ˈweəri əv ˈsʌmθɪŋ sich vor etw. in Acht nehmen (48) competitive kəmˈpetətɪv konkurrierend, kompetitiv (49) to gain the upper hand tə ɡeɪn ði ˈʌpə(r) hænd die Oberhand gewinnen (50) viral ˈvaɪrəl viral, Werbespot im Internet (51) to hijack sth tə ˈhaɪdʒæk ˈsʌmθɪŋ etw. an sich reißen, kapern (52) false ˈfɔːls falsch

Keeping Your Eye on the Ball53

The upshot of54 this is that business owners have to have their eye on the ball, making sure such comments and reviews are dealt with. This can take up vast amounts of time, and often, if posted on other platforms, the comments can be totally missed. It’s also important to deal with such issues in a diplomatic way, so as not to55 come across as56 argumentative57 or aggressive over the Internet. Handling things badly can sometimes reflect poorly on58 your company and you will end up59 losing both trade60 and custom61.

One beauty consultant who wished to remain anonymous62 told BEM how her business had gone under63 after what she described as being “ganged up on64” by rival firms. The 28-year-old from Manchester started up65 her nail and beauty salon66 in (2016) but was forced to close its doors67 less than two years later.

“To start with68, things were going well and I had managed to build up69 a nice group of regular customers. The obvious step was to create accounts on Facebook and Instagram to help expand things and push it forward70,” she told the magazine.

“But after just a few months, I began getting abusive71 messages, and comments started popping up on the pages from people I didn’t know telling me how bad the service was and how they wouldn’t be recommending me to anyone. It was quite devastating72 to read.” In the end things became so bad she decided to shut up shop73 and return to her previous job as a care worker74.

“My experience was terrible. I can only assume75 it was other local companies who saw me as a threat76 and who wanted to cause problems for me. Nowadays77, I just do nails for family and a few close friends. But I won’t be going back into business again. It was horrendous78.”

Getting a Grip on79 Grammar

Making sure that any posts, tweets, comments, replies80 and so on are dealt with in a professional way is also very important. Everyone loves the notion81 of interacting with their customer base on a personal level, but many people still expect an air of82 professionalism. This involves correct spelling and grammar, something which isn’t always the easiest of things to do, when trying to run a business and maintain an array83 of social media sites. One slip-up84 or silly mistake can quickly snowball85, leaving you open to86 criticism or with egg on your face87.


53 to keep one’s eye on the ball tə kiːp wʌnz aɪ ɒn ðə bɔːl sich auf den Ball/die Hauptsache konzentrieren (54) the upshot of sth ði ˈʌpʃɒt əv ˈsʌmθɪŋ Ergebnis/Fazit von etw. (55) …so as to do sth… ˈsəʊ əz tə du ˈsʌmθɪŋ … um etw. zu tun (56) to come across as X tə kʌm əˈkrɒs əz verstanden werden als X (57) argumentative ˌɑːɡjuˈmentətɪv streitlustig (58) to reflect on sb tə rɪˈflekt ɒn ˈsʌmbədi auf jdn. zurückfallen (59) to end up doing sth tu end ʌp ˈduːɪŋ ˈsʌmθɪŋ letztendlich etw. tun (60) trade treɪd Handel (61) custom ˈkʌstəm Kundschaft (62) anonymous əˈnɒnɪməs anonym (63) to go under tə ɡəʊ ˈʌndə(r) pleitegehen (64) to gang up on sb tə ɡæŋ ʌp ɒn ˈsʌmbədi sich gegen jdn. verbünden (65) to start sth up tə stɑːt ˈsʌmθɪŋ ʌp etw. gründen (66) beauty salon ˈbjuːti sælɒn Schönheitssalon (67) to close X’s doors tə kləʊz dɔːz Xs Pforten/ Tore schließen (68) to start with,… tə stɑːt wɪð am Anfang/zunächst (69) to build sth up tǝ bɪld ˈsʌmθɪŋ ʌp etw. aufbauen (70) to push sth forward tə pʊʃ ˈsʌmθɪŋ ˈfɔːwəd etw. voranbringen (71) abusive əˈbjuːsɪv beleidigend (72) devastating ˈdevəsteɪtɪŋ niederschmetternd (73) to shut up shop tə ʃʌt ʌp ʃɒp das Geschäft aufgeben (74) care worker keə(r) ˈwɜːkə(r) Pflegekraft (75) to assume tu əˈsjuːm vermuten, annehmen (76) to see sb as a threat tə ˈsiː ˈsʌmbədi əz ə θret jdn. als Gefahr/Bedrohung betrachten (77) nowadays ˈnaʊədeɪz heutzutage (78) horrendous hɒˈrendəs entsetzlich (79) to get a grip on sth tə ɡet ə ɡrɪp ɒn ˈsʌmθɪŋ etw. in den Griff bekommen (80) reply rɪˈplaɪ Antwort (81) notion ˈnəʊʃn Vorstellung, Gedanke (82) an air of X ən eə(r) əv ein Ausdruck von X (83) array əˈreɪ Reihe (84) slip-up ˈslɪp ʌp Ausrutscher (85) to snowball tə ˈsnəʊbɔːl lawinenartig anwachsen (86) to leave sb open to sth tə liːv ˈsʌmbədi ˈəʊpən tə ˈsʌmθɪŋ jdn. der Gefahr von etw. aussetzen (87) to leave sb with egg on their face tə liːv ˈsʌmbədi wɪð eɡ ɒn ðeə(r) feɪs jdn. dumm dastehen lassen (88) to weigh sth up tə weɪ ˈsʌmθɪŋ ʌp etw. abwägen (89) sb would not dream of doing sth ˈsʌmbədi wʊd nɒt driːm əv ˈduːɪŋ ˈsʌmθɪŋ jdm. würde es nicht im Traum einfallen, etw. zu tun (90) to go (it) alone tə ɡəʊ ɪt əˈləʊn einen Alleingang machen (91) to get equipped tə ˈɡet ɪˈkwɪpt sich (auf etw.) vorbereiten, sich einrichten