With the advent of a lot of skepticism concerning what people read online, it’s more important than ever to pay attention to ethical issues in content and social media marketing – especially if you want to be successful with your efforts at it. Those who are ethical in their social media and content promotions develop a relationship of trust with their audience, making it easier to cultivate a culture of loyalty.

Here’s what you need to know to be sure that you’re promoting and marketing using social media and content in an ethical way.

Take Privacy Seriously.

If the past few years have taught us anything, it’s that taking privacy seriously is a vital part of ensuring that your brand is trustworthy. In David Gorodyansky’s Forbes article “3 Reasons Why Privacy Matters to Your Business, Your Brand and Your Future,” he reminds readers that customers are more connected and willing to give over more information than ever. The side effect of this is that those collecting this information need to take privacy seriously.

Be sure that your site has an up-to-date privacy policy on it that is GDPR compliant.

Aim for Transparency.

Be transparent. If something’s an advertisement, say it’s an advertisement. If something’s a review of a product you received for free, make sure it’s stated that you received the product for free to review. The more open you are with your motives in posting content, the more trustworthy you become in your readers’ and followers’ eyes.

Don’t Distort or Overstate.

Just as it’s important to be honest and transparent with your audience about your motives, it’s important to be honest in what you’re saying. Don’t overstate the usefulness of something or distort something just to bring it to your advantage. Don’t make promises you can’t fulfill and don’t oversell something you’re promoting. Chances are, your audience will see through that and you will lose credibility.

Avoid Over-Promising and Under-Delivering.

This is related to distorting and overstating. Look, it’s tempting to want to make everybody happy. But, it’s also impossible. If you cannot make something happen, do not say you will. Conversely, if you promise that you’re going to do something or make something happen, make it happen! Disappointing those who follow you is not desirable, and you could develop a bad reputation.

Don’t Spam or Over-Promote.

We’ve seen the Twitter accounts that post every other second asking people to go to a website, usually we click unfollow when we see that. Even if you’re really excited about a new product or service your company has to offer, don’t spam social media with it. At best, people will mute you. At worst, they will unfollow you. It’s much better to promote yourself once a day, interact with followers, and share things of value from others.

Don’t Use Clickbait Headlines.

I get it. It’s easy to get people to click on an outlandish claim, but people are becoming weary of clickbait. Moreover, if your headline is too much like clickbait, Facebook will mark it as spam or fake news. Instead, come up with clever, but honest headlines that make it clear as to what your content will be about.

Avoid Controversy for Publicity’s Sake.

Controversy definitely gets people’s attention. However, creating controversy for the sake of getting free publicity will get the wrong kind of attention. Not only is it likely that some people will be turned off by the controversy, but some may be alienated and decide not to do business with you in the future. It’s much better to avoid controversy if you can.

Don’t Engage in Fear-Mongering.

We’ve all seen where there’s an outlandish statement and the intent of the statement is to scare the reader into reading further, purchase something, or sign up for services. The problem with using fear to motivate is that it’s not very honest. It’s much better, instead, to gain trust and work with your base from there. If you do need to share scary information, do so in a tactful, sensitive manner.

Avoid Public Bashing.

Public bashing may feel good now when you’re letting it all out, but it reflects poorly – both on the person and the business behind the person – on those doing it. Not only does it look bad, but it can get you and your business into a lot of hot water. Besides, who wants to put the bad thoughts they were having out on the internet where everyone can see it? It’s much better to jot those thoughts of frustration down on a notepad, rip it up, and put it in the trash than it is to spout off harsh words on social media or in a blog post.

Be Truthful in Reporting.

Fact-checking is an important activity that too few people follow through on. If you’re reporting statistics, cite them to the original study. Don’t skew stats for your gain, don’t make stats say things they don’t say, and whatever you do, quote things within the context they appear. Reporting truthfully goes a long way toward combating “false news” and building your band’s image up as trustworthy.

Conversely, if something seems too good to be true (or too odd to be true), don’t share it. Instead, use one of the many available online fact-checkers. It only takes a few minutes to see if something is true or a hoax, and you’ll save a lot of face if someone does check and sees that you spread false information.

Don’t Pass Off Someone Else’s Work as Your Own.

This should go without saying, but it happens. There are a couple ways where this happens – the first is when someone takes someone else’s article and posts it on their own site as though they had written it. The second way this happens is when someone sees a funny meme, saves it, then uploads it as if they had created the meme. The third way this happens is with images. Someone needs an image for a post and instead of going to a stock photo site, they search in google, grab a photo, and use it.

Be sure that if you’re quoting someone else’s article that you attribute the quote properly. Never take another’s article in its entirety and be sure to cite any information you get from others. If you see a funny meme, share it, but with the originator’s name attached to it still. If you use an image, make sure it’s in the creative commons, and properly attribute the image to its source.

Don’t Be Opportunistic.

While some level of opportunism is important in business, it can be detrimental. If you’re taking every opportunity that comes along, even those that are not related to your business in any way, shape or form, then it’s possibly becoming problematic. This is especially true if the opportunities you’re taking lead people to believe that you don’t have a lot of ethics in who you’ll work with.

Consider How It Will Affect Others.

Everything we write as content producers will go on to influence others. Some of it will be shared, some will cause someone to make a purchase, and some will cause people to hire you. It’s important that whether someone ever visits your site again or not that they leave feeling that you were professional. What you don’t want to do is use language or images that might make someone uncomfortable – even if you yourself don’t feel uncomfortable.

What Do You Consider When Creating Content?

You shouldn’t let these things stop you from creating great content or participating on social media, but they’re important to keep in mind – both because you want to create things that will reflect well on your brand and because the right thing to do is make sure people feel good when they interact with you and your brand. Addressing these ethical issues

Ronda Bowen – Content Creator

Want help with content or social media marketing the right way? EnVeritas Group can help you manage your content. Reach out to us today to find out how.

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