Unethical Social Media: It Can Bite Back
The monetization of social activities is nothing new. There used to be the third place, now we have Facebook and other new ways to connect with the world. There are a variety of ways to monetize social networks, whether you’re looking for product attention or want to be the one making the buzz. Social monetization is a great way to get people when they are open, but should there be ethical limitations to how you monetize down-time?
Information Tracking–Privacy Issues
Some forms of information tracking could be considered unethical, which should be what your social monetization is based on (if not, you’re a lucky duck making money on chance). If you are a business, the ethics of information tracking and monetization are pretty simple. Ethics are defined by a society and expressed in the laws that they make. So, if you follow the law, you’re fine.
As an individual entity, you may have different responsibilities. Keeping users somewhat masked and the spread of sensitive information at a minimum are important for your user’s security. These are all good methods, for example, if you sell hygiene products. Considering the age and privacy levels of your potential customers might be important. They may not want anyone to know that they use your products. There are tons of ways the data pool you are gathering to monetize your social media could be misused, or could even embarrass your audience. Caring for your audience’s information, and using it selectively, sensitively, and carefully is important if you want to keep a positive view of your brand.
Everyone Might Hate Your Business–Consumer Confidence
Social media can be an easy escape for a lot of people. It’s fun to check up on the people around you and see how they are doing. There are some serious real life problems that could arise from poorly handled social media. Hurt feelings can make your company seem mean, and can lose you customers.
Some classic bad tweets from the business world include hashtag abuse, and an employee getting access who really shouldn’t have. With people on their smartphones most of the time, it’s hard to deal with the backlash of a bad message (even if it’s deleted quickly). The same can be said of bad Facebook or Instagram posts; if it is rude, or just doesn’t connect with people, they’ll dislike you for being useless and terrible. Another fantastic example of a bad social media move is Pepsi’s most recent ad, which tries to connect with social activists, but falls flat with the message.
Engaging With Trolls, Sneaky Endorsements, And Going Low
It’s not worth it to throw a low-blow out on social media. Whether you’re dealing with trolls, paying an influencer, or trying your hand on forums (Reddit will burn you if you’re not helpful), it’s not only personally unethical to go low, it’s bad for the brand.
Engaging with trolls (those negative Nancies whose singular purpose is to mess with your site) is generally a bad idea. It lets them know that you are going to play the game. You can do other things to quell the trolls, like ignoring them, being as polite as you would to any other customer query, or moderating your page for any crazy posters really out to prove a point. A troll filled page will get you attention for all the wrong reasons.
Avoiding sneaky endorsements is also super important for you to maintain consumer trust. If you’re sliding into their forums as anonymoususer435 who loves your products and only your products, you’ll fit in like Steve Buscemi trying to be a high school student (see source below). If you’re delivering beautiful content, it will still get engagement if you announce who you are and are helpful to your audience. Kardashians still get likes on those dumb Sugar Bear posts.
Making beautiful content your users will enjoy straight from the source and giving them the means to find it will help you connect with your customers. Don’t share their data, don’t out them, or be rude, and you should have no ethical dilemmas making cash-money on your social media.