Social Media Marketing Ethics: The Basics

Still searching for the elusive secret to successful social media marketing?  Concerned as to why your hardest-fought efforts to win over your target audience seem to be falling at the first hurdle?

Effective social media marketing is a time-consuming and resource-intensive venture, with the potential to deliver an extraordinary ROI for those who get it right. But what many fail to realise is that irrespective of business size and type, the key to a successful SMM strategy lies in one thing:

Strong focus on ethics.

Just to clarify, we are not talking about using social media as a platform to promote and showcase all the ethical and socially-conscious things you get up to on a daily basis. Instead, we mean following the basic rules of social media marketing ethics - no cheating, no fabrication and no exploitation.

Here are four areas of importance to focus on to ensure your SMM strategy is as ethical and effective as it can be:

1. Prioritise honesty at all times

Tell a single lie about your products and services on social media and it is game over. Sowing the seeds of distrust can be as simple as attempting to mislead just one customer on one occasion on a public platform. Just as soon as your audience learns it cannot trust you - which it will soon enough - it will never trust you again. Misleading and distorted information should therefore be avoided at all costs. 

2. Convey your true personality and voice

Audiences on social media respond positively to individuals and organisations that are not afraid to be themselves. Attempting to convince people to get on board with your business by using a synthetic personality or an artificial voice is a recipe for disaster. It is a charade you cannot expect to maintain permanently - your mask will slip at some point and you will pay the price. Plus, it is important to ask yourself - why am I attempting to hide my true personality and voice in the first place?

3. Be careful with emotional manipulation

Eliciting an emotional response has formed the basis of a sizeable proportion of all marketing tactics and activities over the years. However, taking advantage of people’s emotions - particularly during difficult times - is a fundamentally terrible idea. An obvious current example of which is the lingering COVID-19 crisis, which many unscrupulous brands are using to their advantage - unfairly playing on the fears, anxieties and uncertainties of their target audience members.

4. Avoid negative mentions of competing brands

Last up, one of the most obvious tactics by scoring points on social media is to lash out at rival brands. Or perhaps, simply cast aspersions on them for your own personal gain. Unfortunately, not only is this an entirely unethical approach, it is also practically guaranteed to backfire. Plus, if you genuinely need to resort to bad-mouthing your competitors, it simply demonstrates that you do not have enough positive things to say about your own organisation.