However, whenever there is a new growing trend, there are always people who will try to abuse it. Ethics in business apply everywhere, not only in brick & mortar business world, but also in the online world.
The first thing you need to have in mind, is that people go on social media for four main reasons: 1) To connect and socialize with their friends and people in their business network 2) To meet new friends 3) To have fun/relax 4) To be informed about interesting events and to receive suggestions/valuable information (i.e. places to visit, interesting news, activities in their area) from people in their network.
If you are an entrepreneur, there are 7 main points you need to pay attention to regarding correct social media ethics:
1. Do not post links promoting your business/product on other people’s profiles, unless you have gotten their permission – it is amazing how many people use this technique trying to promote their products and websites by posting links on other people’s walls everywhere, even to profiles of people who are in a competitive business. Most of your friends will be mostly annoyed than happy to view the link to your information, if it is posted on their wall for all of their friends to view, without their permission. Create your own pages and groups and when your friends join, promote links to your products and services.
2. Do not spam people with messages –It’s simple, the more messages people receive from you, the more they will be inclined to ignore them or even be annoyed by them. Send messages sparingly and in a targeted manner.
3. Offer valuable content which enriches people’s lives – If you are in business don’t use your status and wall only for the purpose of selling. Remember that people like to see valuable content shared by their friends, whether it is a funny video or a useful article. If you use your wall and status just to promote products, over time people will tend to ignore whatever you share and even ‘hide’ your status updates.
4. Be targeted when you invite people to events – I live in Europe and my Facebook friends can see my location. Yet, I keep receiving repetitive invitations to irrelevant events in Texas or Los Angeles or South Africa. It is obvious that I will never go on a 24 hour flight to attend a cocktail event about a new politician on the other site of the world, so the invitations end up being plain irritating. Target people when inviting to events, otherwise you are just spamming them for no reason and people will ignore anything you send.
5. Avoid open fights and confrontations via your social media profile – If you have a personal or business issue with another person in your friends list, try to resolve it directly with them. Posting people’s names and accusing people via your social media profile, only gives a bad impression. Also have in mind that if you start an ‘online war’ the posts of this confrontation might remain online for many years in forums and other places. People don’t really care about your vendettas with other unknown people in your personal network so take your confrontations offline and solve them in private. Note: this is not true if you are a politician or celebrity and you have a vendetta with another politician or celebrity, people do care to read however most of the times it will backfire negatively on both the people involved.
6. Comment, Share, Like, Digg, Re-tweet, Stumble where you receive value – If you share content that you want people to pay attention to, ‘Comment ‘on, ‘Like’, ‘Share’, ‘Digg’ and ‘Re-tweet’ etc with their friends, it will help if you do the same: Comment, Like and Share any valuable information you receive from your friends. People will notice and appreciate the attention and pay more attention to what you have to say.
7. The Facebook Relationship status – On a last note, if you have an inclination for turbulent relationships, it’s preferable to keep your relationship status invisible. Going from ‘In a Relationship’ to ‘Single’, to ‘in a Relationship’ to ‘Its Complicated’ to ‘in an Open-Relationship’ and back to ‘Single’, gives an impression of a person who is just confused in their relationships and not a serious entrepreneur. Of course ‘Married’ and ‘Single’ and ‘In a Relationship’ are perfectly ok, as long as the status doesn’t change every 2 weeks (you are getting the idea here!).
I would love to hear from you about your opinion on this article, so feel free to post your comments below! If you have received value from this article, please share with your Facebook, Twitter and other Social Media and let’s help improve the social media environment which is obviously taking over our lives!
Pavlina Papalouka, 2 October 2010