The Danger of Social Media Emergence, Policy and Traffic Grubbing

By on July 18, 2013
social media policy

Social media has reached a point where ethics need to be seriously considered, to protect content publishers, social media managers and the public who are guided by a new kind of media that is obsessed with traffic and linkbait content. Today I’m delving into the dark and twisted world of privacy, policy and the emergence of social exaggeration.

Social Media Policy For Everyone!

I’ve spoken at length previously about the importance of brands setting a detailed social media policy, in order to protect their reputation and the integrity of their employees.

After all, what is a brand if it isn’t an extension of the people that work there? But lately, some disturbing trends are happening that should cause red flags for EVERYONE that plans to have a reputation online for sales.

• Brands should be aware that their employee conduct on brand pages and on personal social media pages MUST be included in their social media policy. Anything written online is public, whether in a private feed, or on a public brand page. Yes it matters what your social media manager says on their own pages. This needs to be outlined and agreed upon in the social media policy meeting.

• This is especially true if your social media manager has no idea that the actions on their own pages may result in damage to their employer. Last year, some 76% of existing brands still didn’t have any sort of social policy to speak of – in this highly unstable social climate, that puts your business and its employees at risk.

social media policy

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An Internet Brimming With Content Marketers

While we all like to think we are driven by ethics and what is right – the reality is that lines can blur for many content producers and social media marketers. SEO has become more important than content integrity.

At the slightest hint of controversy, something any fledgling SEO content producer looks out for, these social managers actively capitalize on trending subjects – unwittingly adding fuel to fires that are unjust, don’t exist or are downright lies.

Misinformation has the same kind of viral reach as accurate information, as does the social impact of this poorly researched and syndicated content. A social media manager needs to therefore be held accountable in the same way a New York Times journalist is held accountable for what they publish, share, and SAY online.

• This will prevent your business (or you) from experiencing a backlash from the outraged public, who is always willing to vilify an individual or a brand for small, insignificant mistakes. Just ask chocolate giant Nestle how important it is to closely monitor your PR communication. All online content is public.

social media policy

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There are enough people in the world that are willing to use controversy, and other people’s pain to drive traffic to their sales pages. But make no mistake, this is unethical if it is not true, or there is no basis or proof backing up the story you are syndicating. Traffic grubbing revolves around trends, whether they are true or not.

This is your official warning – make sure your content (all of it) is accurate, or you could find yourself embroiled in a nasty witch hunt online. Brands like Oreos, American Red Cross, Abercrombie and Fitch, McDonalds, Snickers and Microsoft have all been on the receiving end of lax social media policy controls. Prevention is better than cure!

What are your feelings on the social media policy, and traffic grubbing debate?

About John Souza

John Souza is founder and chief strategist of SMMU and Social Media Impact, and is a bestselling business author. He won the 2011 Tech Marketing Awards ‘Social Media Marketer of the Year’ and most recently the Reader’s Choice Award for Best Online Education Site. John has appeared on The Michael Gerber Show, and his business has been honored at the Mashable Awards, Forbes Business Awards and The Stevie Awards.

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