Peekaboo! (Or, you might not see social media, but it sees you.)
If you have children, you might remember playing the “peekaboo” game with them when they were small. You look at them, then hide your face, then uncover your face and then say “Peekaboo!” or “I see you!”.
Very young children are likely to look away once your face is hidden, because they don’t understand that you are still there. Older children – and the threshold age is a matter of much dispute – will understand that you are still there even though your face is hidden. When children understand that a hidden person or object is still there, this is called acquiring object permanence.
Unfortunately, many companies behave as though they do not understand object permanence when it comes to social media. They think that, if they don’t have a social media presence, then no attention will be paid to them on social media.
All too often, that isn’t true. If you don’t have your own presence on social media, others are likely to get there first and do it for you. They might have your best interests at heart – or they might not. It’s not at all uncommon for users to set up fake Facebook pages or parody Twitter accounts where they can say exactly what they think about companies and institutions that have angered them.
Not too long ago, we ran across what looked like the Facebook page of a local authority. A quick scan of the content revealed that the page had actually been set up by someone angry about that local authority’s dog registration policies. As you can imagine, the content of the page was far from complimentary – and, because the local authority didn’t have an official Facebook presence, they couldn’t do anything about it.
Once you have an official Facebook presence, you can take steps to deal with fake pages in your name. If you don’t have a Twitter account, you might find someone has set up a parody account to make fun of you.
Twitter allows parody accounts under certain conditions, but if you have a real account, you can at least tell your side of the story.
If you are taking part in the conversation on social media, you have a chance to influence it. Hiding behind your hands won’t make social media go away.