Unethical marketing practices on social media websites has backfired…badly. As in all marketing situations, it pays to have integrity. While much of social networking is out of your hands, there are many factors that you can control that will keep you out of the hot seat.
The first thing that you must always keep in mind when you embark on a social network marketing campaign is that you are joining a community. As with any community, business has its rightful place, but it does not have the right to invade people’s privacy. In your face, non-targeted, spam marketing will get you nowhere in a hurry.
Most social network marketers use websites like Facebook and MySpace to try to drive traffic to another website. While it’s perfectly ethical to use social networking websites to spread a message to people who are genuinely interested, many people game the system with auto-friend adding programs and spam messages and bulletins. Again, anything non-targeted and spammy will not help your reputation.
Thankfully, social networking websites are becoming wise to these practices and are effectively weeding out and banning offenders.
As mentioned earlier, to use such websites as a marketing tool with integrity you need to participate as a member of the community. Get involved in groups that are related to your area, contribute, communicate and make friends that are genuinely interested in what you have to say and what you have to sell.
As you begin to publish more content on these websites, try to avoid direct marketing platitudes. For success, your content will need to be of genuine value and interest to other users. Also, never mislead potential clients. Don’t overdue your titles to try and lure clicks from visitors.
For example, instead of leaving a post on a blog pretending to be a consumer recommending your website or product, be up front about it. Explain that the product or website is yours and how it is relevant to the discussion. People will eventually see through dishonest marketing methods, even if they don’t right away. And one mistake could cost your reputation.
Also, when contributing in social networking websites, never use it as an opportunity to unfairly criticize competitors or their products. Don’t point out shortfalls. Point out what makes you different.
Since social network marketing can be seen as a form of publishing, be aware of online copyright issues. Read up on the basics of media law and know the potential dangers when it comes to defamation, invasion of privacy and intellectual property, and copyright infringement.
There are no hard and fast rules governing ethical behavior in social network marketing. Most communities are self regulated. So, be on your best behavior and you shouldn’t have any problems.