Any business strategy has to have a focus on ethics, and particularly in terms of their outbound communication. While most businesses do have systems in place to highlight what is and isn’t acceptable behavior in its employees, the focus needs to be placed more on social media usage as well. Social media has risen incredibly quickly, however, something that few businesses had anticipated. Luckily, however, people like Matthew F Knouff have spent a great deal of time on trying to set guidelines in place that can be implemented across the board.
Why Businesses Have to Focus on Ethics
2016 has been a year of huge geo-political events, and these have been extensively discussed on social media. Why it is individual users’ rights to do so, companies have made some huge mistakes in this. Take, for instance, one company that retweeted anti-government tweets, leading to them having to issue a public apology. There have also been hundreds of examples in which businesses have accidentally expressed support for the Brexit/Bremain movement.
The Rules of Ethics
It must first be said that social media is a fantastic tool that can enhance brand exposure and the ability for companies to engage their consumers. However, this must be done ethically, which can be done by following these rules:
- Know your audience (KYA). Think about what they are interested in, and the choices they make. Create a psychographic and demographic overview first. This will ensure you don’t accidentally start spamming as well.
- Do not be biased. Never engage in any cultural, ethical, religious, or political debate and if sharing, retweeting, or pinning anything, check that the source is not a biased on.
- Privacy must be the most important thing at all times. Social media platforms have privacy rules in place and users value those. Do not breach those rules and always give your users the opportunity to “unsubscribe” from anything they send you.
- Have open and transparent policies in place, particularly if you endorse something. Let people know what your relationship is to any personality, idea, or product you endorse.
- Always be truthful. If you have an affiliation with something that is being talked about, let your audience know. You don’t have to tell them why you are affiliated, just that you are.
- Think! It cannot be stressed enough how important it is that you think about what you are about to put out there in the public domain. Think about the impact and potential impact it will have on others and on your brand.
One thing that experts like Matthew F Knouff recommend above all else is that you create a social media strategy as part of your digital marketing strategy, and that this includes an ethics session. Doing so will ensure everybody knows what is expected of them, helping you to avoid problems, or get out of certain problems should someone do something wrong. Unfortunately, it is all too easy for people to accidentally do something on social media, and if this is clearly framed as wrong under a business policy, you can take appropriate action and mitigate any potential damage.