Ethics: The Fourth ‘E’ of Social Media

Published July 27, 2012 1:38 pm by LoSasso
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social media ethics losasso integrated marketing

The recent Chick-Fil-A Facebook fiasco has marketers and PR professionals fired up about social media and PR ethics, and rightly so. Ethics can be easily overlooked, but are critical in any profession, including ours. Ethics are also taken very seriously here at LoSasso.

In various client and conference presentations I’ve given, I’ve mentioned my “three E’s” of social media. They are:

•    Engagement: Brands that choose to create social media channels must absolutely engage and interact with their customers. Facebook, Twitter, forums, LinkedIn and other channels are not meant to be one-way channels.

•    Education: According to Outbrain’s “The State of Content Marketing, 2012” report, 71% of marketers plan to increase their content marketing efforts, with an additional 11% planning to “greatly” increase them. Whether brands are B2B or B2C, they have an imperative to educate and teach their customers and non-customers alike through videos, reports, blog posts, infographics and other content items.

•    Entertainment: What did Jack Nicholson say in “The Shining”? Oh yes: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Brands that talk about themselves all the time, and don’t take the time to have a bit of fun (or feature their customers in fun and interesting ways) will find their audience eventually tuned out. Brands must find the right mix of promotional and non-promotional messaging to keep their followers interested.

Perhaps inspired by Chick-Fil-A, I’m now adding a fourth: ethics.

•    Ethics: Brands must never, whether publicly or privately, misrepresent themselves in their communications. Whether a company (allegedly) poses as a teenage girl on Facebook, or a company CEO posts anonymously in a finance forum to alter stock prices, companies – and company employees – must always act ethically. When they don’t, bad things happen – especially from a crisis perspective.

What other “E’s” would you add to your social media + PR best practices tipsheet? Please leave your thoughts as comments below!

Daniel B. Honigman