The primary objective of a marketing and communication campaign is to connect with the consumers of the product and service in view of the targeted goal of the campaign.
The dawn of social media gave the marketers and brands the chance to keep their communication and brand features and services alive in the minds of the consumers on a more connected manner through social media tools.
The social media has turned the wheels in terms of consumers having the authority of choosing a product or service in view of a globalized business environment thus giving them power to invite the potential suitors as per their terms and conditions.
The impact on the social practices of consumers in terms of shopping and behavioural aspects of purchasing online through social media and brands connecting with the consumers through tactical strategies have given light to the ethical issues when it comes to communication of brands features and services to consumers.
Social has given rise to a slew of advertisers utilizing unethical means to fake their endorsements and also but themselves into consumers pocket through fake favourable commentary.
Marketing has always been debated from an ethical perspective, with the communication of fairness creams creating a raging feverish debate on colour of facial colour or the communication of cigarettes to consumers.
With the advent of social media the ethical dilemmas has taken a new twist with regards to the infringement of falsification and privacy issues. In a blog written by Dr. Jim Barry (2014), on social content marketing, he discussed the 7 ethical dilemmas faced in social media marketing.
Starting with invasion of privacy, the marketers, in view of a competitive landscape try hard to gain the attention and predominantly include marketers sharing the profiles with social media entities and vice versa that may affect the consumer’s personal or professional standing.
As stated in Dr. John’s article, marketers sharing information with Facebook through custom audience features is an example of invasion of privacy.
Spamming by marketers to reach consumer that may seem unnecessary is also an ethical perspective with regards to cluttered frequency.
Public bashing of competitors, dishonesty in terms of marketing claims that don’t exist and also the contentious trend towards native ads that showcase dubiously ad content as publishing content.
In spite of the ethical issues that are affronted with marketing, the success of social media as a medium cannot be argued in terms of reaching the consumers and twitter, Facebook, blogs, pinterest, linkedin etc are at the forefront of social media revolution in marketing.
With regards to the targeted consumers the marketers utilize the mediums accordingly. An illustration of the social media impact can be gauged from the numbers that were reported for Facebook for the 3rd quarter of last year i.e. revenues of $2.06 billion (O’Dell, 2013).
Besides the ethical marketing issues mentioned above, distorted endorsements claims is a critical ethical issue and since social media has created a free for all promotion for products not able to invest in a conventional marketing campaign.
The tactical campaigns named by Dr. John as misuse of free expertise and contests are unethical with regards to the utilization of intellectual property from those professionals are not working and are given peanuts also as stated by David Vinjamuri (2011), the indirect endorsement of Wal-Mart was deemed as unethical.
The human aspect in the utilization of social media is critical, the case study of Nestle with regards to the management of their Facebook fan page and how the interaction by the employee managing the content with a fan blew up for the brand in terms of the fans reaction in 2011.
Marketing is all about reputation since it helps the brand gain credibility and an eventual usage of the product or service, thus the case study of Nestle is an example of organizations needing to tread slowly but surely on the social media front.
How a marketing team creates collaterals is of paramount importance as the social media is one medium that is live all the time and even one slight mistake is like an arrow that cannot be taken back.
In this age of globalization marketers are looking to activate the brands in the minds of the consumers and create a one to one connection with the consumers, also the marketers understand the potential of social media as a tool that will give positive results with minimum investment as opposed to an on ground activation or communication campaign entailing buying of media space.
The marketing potential of social media is still to be tapped and with technology creating havoc in the lifestyle of consumers, case in point the launch on Apple watches and other inventions to be launched the paradigm of consumer buying and the way marketing is done will keep changing in view of new trends and technological launches.
The aforementioned however will keep facing ethical issues as the rapid changes will also see a rapid change is consumption and marketing of both consumers and brands and therefore, it is to be seen how the delicate balance is kept.
The fundamental practices, to use social media as a marketing tool with regards to information, thoughts and awareness that organizations are posting, have to be under the guidelines of ethics and should not infringe the tacit rule of content governance on social media.
Dr. Jim, B. (2014). 7 ethical Dilemmas faced in social media marketing. Social Content Marketing. Retrieved from http://blog.socialcontentmarketing.com/7-ethical-dilemmas-faced-in-social-media-marketing/
David V. (2011). Ethics and the five deadly sins of social media. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidvinjamuri/2011/11/03/ethics-and-the-5-deadly-sins-of-social-media/
O’Dell, J. (2013). Facebook earnings show that desktop ads and Google may soon become irrelevant. Venture Beat. Retrieved from http://venturebeat.com/2013/10/30/fb-earnings-show-that-desktop-ads-and-google-may-soon-become-irrelevant/