Playing by the Rules

When reading through this week’s chapter on rules of engagement on social media, I kept thinking about how many companies seem to struggle with this concept. From the outside, social media seems so simple, when in reality it can be a huge task and sometimes a crisis waiting to happen. It seems like every few days there is some sort of social media related crisis in the news.

So what can companies do–or not do– to engage their customers in a safe, effective way? As the book mentions, ethics plays a huge role in the success of a social media campaign. Forbes has a list of five deadly sins for companies to avoid. While they seem simple enough, sometimes it can be easier said than done.

1. Unreported endorsements–Especially in the world of blogging, paying a person to endorse your product without disclosing it can be dangerous. You run the risk of losing customers’ trust, and it takes away any credibility that your product had before. Make sure it is a known fact that you are funding an endorsement.

2. Improper Anonymity–I remember watching an episode of The Office where the characters set up a Facebook account for the company and immediately made up dozens of fake accounts to follow their page. Sadly, this also happens in the real world. Again, this will lose trust in your company, and it also just looks pathetic.

3.Compromising Consumer Privacy–Never, ever use your customers’ information without their consent.

4.Overly Enthusiastic Employees–Employees are the lifeblood of your company, but they can also tarnish a good reputation. Train your employees to have responsible online lives that the company can stand by. Many, many crises have been caused by an irresponsible employee posting questionable content.

5.Using online community to get free work— Some companies will have competitions to get real-life customers to create videos, artwork, etc. that will be featured in the company’s ads. This is a great way to get engaged, but it also looks bad if you are using all of that content without any compensation for the creators.

These rules cannot guarantee a bullet proof social media campaign, but they can help a company at least avoid some mistakes.  When a company uses social media in an ethical, responsible way, customers are more likely to trust that name.

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