Marketing for Your Business: Ethics and Standards
Over the past few years, we have seen businesses make mistakes with their marketing campaigns. Some insulted their target audiences. Others abused the privacy of their customers by sharing their data. And some simply didn’t think about any potential backlash when launching a new product or service. In the digital marketing space, your business is placing its reputation in the public eye. For small and local businesses, it is of the utmost importance to follow strong ethics and standards when marketing to your audience via blog posts and social media.
Plagiarism is bad, m’kay?
This should be a no-brainer, but some businesses will copy content wholesale from their competitors or other sites and place it on their own. This is a big problem for a few reasons. First, it’s plagiarism and taking content from another source without property attributing it or asking for permission is potentially legally actionable. Second, no matter how good the content is, placing it on your site will not improve your rankings. Search engines will recognize it as duplicate content and refer back to the site where the content originated. Third, it’s a bad look for your business and will harm your reputation if someone calls you out for stealing content. If you see something you like on another site, ask if you can link to it. Even better, ask if the author wants to write a guest piece for your business and strike up a professional relationship to expand your network.
Source your quotes!
If you are going to quote someone in your blog or social media posts, you need to give proper attribution. Even better, link to their quotes if they are from another site. Local businesses sometimes like to place reviews and testimonials from customers on their websites and social media pages. While it is very easy to purchase reviews and testimonials online, remember that most local businesses serve people in the immediate area. A fake review stands out like a big red flag, and if your audience cannot track those to real people, they will question how honest your business is about everything else it does.
Don’t abuse your authority
You have your own website and a Facebook page for your business. Inevitably, someone will leave a comment on your blog or on your social media feed that’s critical or negative. By all means, you can remove criticism so that your audience only sees those glowing and positive comments. However, doing so is not only disingenuous, but you are missing out on an opportunity to build brand recognition and trust by not engaging with your audience. Criticism is unavoidable, so embrace those comments and respond professionally to those comments to explain things or “make it right” for those people. If negative comments are removed, people will notice, and your business will gain a bad reputation for not being able to handle criticism. At worst, the people whose comments you remove will make posts about your business on their own blogs or social media feeds, and that can be stopped from spreading by simply engaging people instead of trying to silence them.
Holding the marketing arm of your business to high standards and ethics is one of the best things you can do to set yourself apart from the rest.