Social media marketing is a powerful tool, but it can be misused. When companies use social media to promote themselves and their products, they must follow certain ethical guidelines. These rules are designed to protect consumers and the company itself from unethical practices.
Social media marketing has become an important part of modern advertising. Companies use social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to promote their products, increase brand awareness, and interact with customers. There are many different types of social media strategies, such as posts on Facebook pages or Twitter feeds; blog posts; videos; photo contests; sweepstakes; giveaways; and more.
While these tactics are effective at increasing brand awareness and boosting sales, they also come with risks if not executed properly. This article will discuss some of the most important ethics rules for social media marketing campaigns so you can avoid any potential pitfalls along the way!
Social Media Marketing Tools Or Ethics
How important are marketing ethics when it comes to your purchase decisions?
If you are like most consumers, ethics matters a lot.
Consumers are attracted to brands that promote sustainability, environmental causes, and social responsibility. Not surprisingly, we’re drawn to brands that bring some good into the world.
Promoting good causes and following marketing ethics can help your brand attract much-needed attention and drive ROI for paid ads.
What are the most crucial marketing ethics you should follow? How will you integrate it with your paid campaigns?
Let’s begin by discussing the basics of marketing ethics.
What Are Marketing Ethics and Why Are They Important on Social Media?
Marketing ethics means having principles for your paid campaigns.
It is a philosophy focused on using values like honesty, fairness, and social responsibility to build quality relationships with consumers.
It requires companies to build campaigns and make decisions based on a moral perspective (i.e., whether a move is “morally good”) and a business perspective (i.e., whether it will generate the desired ROI).
Factoring marketing ethics into your paid campaigns isn’t just a good idea, it’s good for business.
Take a look at these interesting numbers:
- 70 percent of North American consumers believe it is important for brands to be sustainable and eco-friendly.
- Barrons also reports 35 percent of consumers are willing to pay more to purchase eco-friendly products.
- Statista reports 61 percent of American consumers value diversity in ads.
- 45 percent of consumers under the age of 34 are willing to conduct repeat business with an LGBTQ+–friendly company.
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Consumers respond to ethical brands, and it could even boost your overall image. However, marketing ethics also sparks a lot of debate because the concept of “right” and “wrong” can be subjective.
There are also cultural, ethical, and social aspects marketers must consider. Brands could face backlash from consumers who claim ads are “offensive,” “insensitive,” or “deceptive.”
5 Marketing Ethics to Follow for Paid Campaigns
I’ve seen many ethical brands and campaigns in my career, and I can tell you integrating ethical marketing works when it’s done right. You can win customers and help a worthy cause at the same time. It’s the perfect win-win-win situation!
Now here are the top five marketing ethics you should use to drive success in paid campaigns.
Transparency in Marketing Ethics
In the age of social media, people demand brands to be transparent.
They want to learn how the product is made, how materials are sourced, where they are made, brand affiliations, and everything about the brand and its products. The more information people have about the product, the more impact it will have on their decision-making process.
According to Label Insight, 94 percent of consumers are likely to be loyal to transparent brands. Furthermore, 56 percent remain loyal to a brand if it offers complete transparency.
Brand transparency proves a brand is genuine and trustworthy. Not only can it attract more people, but it can also lead to a higher rate of customer retention.
To be transparent, brands should release verifiable information about products and disclose affiliations. This can be done in paid social campaigns by featuring a behind-the-scenes look of your offices, sharing data, and being transparent about your products and services’ capabilities.
F&B brand Panera believes people have a right to know more about their food. That’s precisely why the brand launched the “Food Interrupted” series to boost transparency through interviews with food industry experts.
The video series educates viewers about plant-based diets, animal welfare, clean eating, and ingredient transparency. At the same time, they increased brand credibility and consumer confidence.
How to Avoid Crossing the Line
Keep in mind transparency will backfire if you make deceptive claims. If you can’t back something up, then don’t claim it’s the truth. Your business will face a PR disaster once it’s caught in the act.
We all want to avoid being labeled as a “hypocrite” or “deceptive.” Claiming you have specific qualities might earn brownie points with customers, but it’s not worth the backlash if it isn’t true.
Social Responsibility in Marketing Ethics
Social responsibility entails enacting positive change by helping people in need or supporting good causes. When a brand is known to stand up for what’s right, it fosters trust and loyalty from customers.
They say you must be the change you wish to see in the world. As individuals, we often use small acts to support the causes we love.
In contrast, businesses—especially large corporations—have more power and resources to enact positive change. That’s why brands that make an effort to promote good are more likely to gain widespread support and popularity.
Here are some popular causes promote social responsibility:
- saving the environment
- supporting charitable institutions
- quality labor policies
- sustainable and eco-friendly products
How do you integrate this into your social campaigns? Consumers want to see how a brand is making an impact. Allot a portion of sales to donations, participate in volunteer work, or
stand up against unjust policies.
For example, Glossier supported #BlackLivesMatter by donating $500,000 to provide grants to Black-owned beauty businesses and using the other half for organizations fighting racial injustice.
We all make mistakes, and the same is true for brands. Hence, social responsibility also means owning up to the mistakes you make.
When Airbnb came under fire for discrimination and racial profiling, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky sincerely apologized and introduced solutions to combat it.
They also created a “We Accept” video to highlight their support for diversity and inclusion.
How to Avoid Crossing the Line
Businesses looking to embody social responsibility must avoid making insensitive comments or statements regarding race, religion, politics. Once you claim you stand up for a specific cause, you can’t take it back. Not living up to your principles violates marketing ethics and puts your business in a bad light.
Fairness in Marketing Ethics
Fairness is about representing products or services accurately and weighing the benefits of your buyer’s needs and your own needs as a profit-oriented company.
In simple terms, it could also consider moral principles when engaging in business.
When marketers promote a new product, the information should be accurate and free from deceptive claims. If a product is harmful to kids, then it’s best to include a warning.
Consumers may also prefer brands that treat workers fairly or launch cruelty-free products. Supporting brands abiding by fair trade practices empowers both employees and their communities.
For example, Patagonia is a passionate advocate of fair trade. They ensure workers have access to living wages and quality working conditions.
Although consumers pay premium prices for their fair trade products, the money is used to fund community projects, child-care centers, and health-care programs.
In the video “Fair Trade: The First Step” the brand launched a detailed documentary featuring the quality of life of its workers.
To reduce its environmental impact, Patagonia also encourages consumers to reuse and repair its products. They even host Worn Wear events across the country where consumers can get their items fixed for free.
On their Worn Wear Instagram page, you’ll find pictures of these events and instructional videos so users can fix their Patagonia products themselves.
How to Avoid Crossing the Line
Highlighting fairness involves giving behind-the-scenes posts of your daily operations or your company’s decision-making process. While we want to impress consumers, it’s equally important to keep it real. Rather than a scripted commercial, provide genuine insights on how your brand and employees get things done.
Marketing Ethic Through Honesty
Honesty is about being truthful about your products and services’ features and capabilities. Your products must be able to fulfill the promises you make in your ads.
Unfortunately, a lot of brands make exaggerated claims and false comparisons. They will claim their products are top-rated just to make more sales. Or, they’ll claim lower prices.
A common example is extra fees that raise the overall cost of a product or service. A car company might not reveal the pre-delivery inspection charges for a new vehicle, or a cell phone company might hide activation fees.
Many businesses have no qualms with blatantly lying to lure customers. However, this can have real consequences.
Products that fail to meet customer expectations could get negative reviews. Once a product gets negative reviews online, it’ll impact your bottom line. It’s also hard to get rid of your bad reputation when it’s on the Internet.
In the worst-case scenario, you could be pressured to refund sales or even get sued.
Consumers goods brand Honest company by actress Jessica Alba truly lives up to its name. Their products are known for being safe to use for babies because they avoid 2,500 ingredients or materials, according to their “NO List.”
For example, their Honest body wash is dermatologist approved, clinically tested, safe for babies, and made of natural ingredients.
How to Avoid Crossing the Line
Paid advertising helps consumers learn about new products and helps brands drive profits. However, false advertising can be harmful to both parties.
If you truly want to shine, meet product certification standards in your industry. Get your products tested before release and brainstorm ways to highlight your best qualities without going overboard.
Building an Ethical Community
Many ethical brands have gained massive popularity by building a strong community and giving back.
Focusing on the actual impact they can make in their community attracts groups of like-minded people. After all, having common interests and working towards a common goal brings people together.
By helping a specific cause or community, you can differentiate yourself from the market. At the same time, you’ll improve the quality of life for everyone.
Footwear brand TOMS boasts of a buy-one-give-one model. For every shoe it sells, it gives a free pair to those in need. Their paid social ads even highlight their marketing ethics.
digital marketing ethics
More and more entrepreneurs, businesses, and larger corporate conglomerates utilize digital marketing in today’s business world. Consequently, it is essential to understand and closely monitor ethical practices well when interacting and completing business transactions on a digital platform. Digital marketing, also known as Internet marketing or online marketing, is the process by which businesses promote a product, service, or brand through various online platforms. These platforms can include social media pages, mobile apps, websites, blogs, and many others. Digital marketing allows businesses to reach a broad range of potential clients without the expense and time-consuming nature of standard business advertising.
Due to the broad-based nature and expansive capabilities of digital marketing, businesses must use caution when placing their advertisements online. Depending on the industry in which your business functions, there can be countless social, ethical, and cultural considerations that you must take into account. To make sure your digital marketing strategy appeals to your target market without offending other potential website visitors.
Traditional marketing faces similar challenges to that of digital marketing. For that matter, direct marketing is one of the most controversial methods of marketing. Some common examples of traditional or direct marketing include:
All of these run against the limitations of ethical standards and legality in significant ways. Also, there are forms of direct marketing that push the boundaries of ethics by using anti-competitive practices such as bait and switch, planned obsolescence, and pyramid schemes. It is not uncommon for some of these ethical challenges typically attributed to direct marketing to also exist in a digital marketing platform.
What Are The Ethical Issues In Online Marketing?
Due to the overwhelming rise in online formats as a means for conducting business, it is essential for every digital marketer to have a mechanism for monitoring ethical practices in place. This mechanism and its implementation should be in place while marketing strategies are being created. There are several items to consider when addressing the ethical aspects of a digital marketing campaign.
Is It Ethical To Use User Data To Target Advertising?
Digital marketing enables marketers to target their advertising campaigns based on specific user data and demographics. This practice requires the advertiser to use extreme caution when targeting groups in this manner. While it is not considered unethical per se, the campaign should use discretion to make sure it is not offensive or discriminatory to any group nor have any misrepresentation of a competitor product or service.
Rules Of Ethics In Internet Marketing
There are many “rules,” or guidelines businesses should follow when creating online content across the various available platforms. Indeed, there are dozens of such guidelines, so we have highlighted just a few below.
The product information provided must be complete and truthful.
When advertising a product or service on social media, it is essential to be as truthful as possible. Any claims or promises made regarding a product, promotion, etc. should be fully backed. The company must be willing to take full responsibility if the product or service fails to meet claims. There are legal standards around Truth in Advertising that companies should be aware of.
REFRAIN FROM ADVERSITY
Businesses (and their digital marketing teams) need to avoid adverse comments regarding religion, politics, ethnicity, or other emotionally charged topics on social media platforms. Failure to do so violates ethical principles’ and such controversial advertising damages the image of the brand.
Online marketing and business operations allow for significant international visibility. Selling products on a global market requires digital content creators to understand the ethics, morals, and values of other cultures. A successful (and ethical) marketing strategy in one culture may be the exact opposite in another.
In digital marketing, a company must exercise all measures to ensure they do not violate privacy rules. Data mining and extracting data wrongfully via platforms such as Facebook to create marketing campaigns violates privacy rules. Depending on the severity of privacy violations, legal difficulties could arise.
There are many other rules, or guidelines businesses should follow when engaging in digital marketing practices; the above are just a few critical excerpts to a more significant, unwritten “ethical contract” businesses should abide by when doing business online.
Ways To Uphold The Rules Of Ethics Of Digital Marketing
There are several ways to promote trust among your customers in the digital marketing environment.
Promote Trust With Verifiable Data
Consumers within the digital environment must trust the digital services and the data they are seeing provided by the businesses. Those who collect and manage the data must uphold the principle that integrity is assured if the information is to be valuable to consumers. For example, if you are marketing vehicles to your consumer base, you must ensure that the data you provide about your competition, your product’s capabilities and awards, and how you differentiate positively from your competitors must be supported and accurate.
Subjective advertising is when an advertiser makes subjective (based on personal opinion) claims about their products as opposed to objective claims, which are those that can be tested by consumers. Beware of subjective advertising. Because subjective statements or personal opinions are things that cannot be proven, the consistent failure of your customer base to view your product in the same manner as advertised could lead to trust problems. For example, if you are promoting the best tasting sandwich around, that’s something that can’t be readily verified by data and could lead people to question the ethics of your advertising.
Beware Of False Comparisons And Exaggerated Claims
Research has shown that some advertisers will blatantly lie about how popular their product is or about the quality of their product. An excellent example of this is when telecommunications companies claim you can achieve coverage when using their product that simply doesn’t exist. When a company makes misleading or blatantly false claims about a competing brand, they are acting in an unethical manner. For example, if a local pizza company says that 9 out of 10 pizzas their competitors deliver are made inaccurately, but they have no valid proof of this, that’s a false comparison, and it is unethical.
To set yourself apart as a business that practices ethical digital marketing, you have to ensure that every aspect of your digital campaign is ethical. This includes everything from how you source your materials to the way you advertise and what you say about your competitors. It is very simple to steer off course and find yourself unwittingly violating ethical principles.
Ethical Digital Marketing Is A Necessity
For consumers to feel safe shopping online in this ever-growing digital marketing world, ethical practices are essential. If businesses ignore ethical practices, a moral lapse in how business is conducted may occur. While this may not be recognized immediately when these ethical and moral failings come to light, the company’s reputation and brand image will suffer. Every company has a responsibility to its investors, buyers, employees, and others who are involved in their day-to-day business practices. Therefore, it is essential to understand the importance of including ethical principles in every marketing strategy regardless of its platform.
The most successful digital marketing companies understand the importance of working consistently on their digital marketing strategies to ensure it is in line with the ever-changing environments of the online business world. Failure to do this could impact your company’s reputation, sales, and ability to continue to grow in the digital environment.
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