As I have mentioned a few times before; social media is a critical part of digital marketing.

I am also a massive advocate of ethical practices and corporate social responsibility. It’s great for companies to do well and make a profit, but they need to be acting responsibly and not doing more harm than good.

It might be strange to think that social media and ethics are relevant to each other but it is more important than ever in this digital age to act ethically – otherwise you will have a horde of twitter trolls coming after your business. And that’s never pretty…


For many businesses new to social media (some being run by marketing managers who also act like they are new to social media – and all human interaction in general) the Communications Council (the peak professional body representing companies in the Australian advertising industry, if you didn’t already know) have created a Social Media Code of Conduct for your enjoyment/light reading/Sunday afternoon fun.

But let me simplify and summarise it for you here (there are a few rules you need to follow):

1.                     Have a Crisis Management Plan 

Something will go wrong. Hopefully not, but chances are it will. When that happens don’t be that company left floundering – create a crisis management plan before you begin! More useful info on social media crisis management here.

2.                     Be Transparent


Lots of companies think they can get away with this, but the average consumer and social media user wasn’t born yesterday. If you are posting about brands or campaigns “always be open and transparent about who you work for, who you represent or who you may be speaking on behalf of”.

My roommate recently had a lot of trouble with a sporting merchandise manufacturer. She had not looked up reviews before placing her order and after the troubles started and the ACCC got involved she decided to see what other people had said about the company. ALL the other reviews on many different sites were absolutely shocking with similar complaints – except for one 5 star review from a guy called Iman. His review not only sounded clunky and fake – his name was very similar to the manager Ivan who she had been having trouble with. I’m not suggesting anything…. I’m just sayin’


3.                     Be Accurate

This one is surprisingly simple and probably the most overlooked. I get it, you have a bunch of posts to do, people to respond to – you’re busy so you cut corners. As we found out back in my first blog when Coke messed up a map of Russia, people can get reeeaaallll mad!

It’s ok though, mistakes happen. Just correct it promptly. “It is important to reference the earlier comment because even if the erroneous comment has been deleted, someone may have saved it as an image or other format to use as evidence”.

4.                     Be Professional

Just don’t be a tool when posting. You are representing a company – so act like it. Don’t make the internet an even worse place, always be polite and respectful of individuals’ opinions, especially when discussions become heated.

5.                     Be Fair and Respectful

This is also surprisingly common sense but often forgotten. Always be respectful of all individuals and communities you interact with in social media. This goes back to number 4 – don’t be a tool! It’s pretty simple people.


6.                     Be Careful

This is again super relevant to my first blog on social media – in particular the infamous #YourTaxis debacle. Just be careful when posting anything (content or comments/retaliations) that can damage the brand’s reputation. In particular watch out for exaggeration, colourful language, derogatory remarks or characterisations. “Do not post content that is obscene, defamatory, threatening or discriminatory to an individual, brand or entity”.

7.                     Be Responsible

This is a given whether you are representing a brand on social media or not – abide by the terms of use of the social media platform.


8.                     Be Smart

You may be starting to see a pattern here. A lot of these ‘rules’ are things that we may find super common sense – but as with most common sense things, it is really surprising and often outrageous when people ignore it.

When posting for a brand (and yourself for that matter) if it best to respect intellectual property – in particular trade marked names, slogans and copyrighted material. Don’t post it if it would be considered dodgy and always have permission or at the very least properly attribute the work to the right owner.

9.                     Be Aware

Similar to the issues surrounding copyrighted materials, be aware of confidentiality. “Only reference information that is publicly available. Do not disclose any information that is confidential or proprietary to your organisation, its clients or any third party that has confidentially disclosed information to you”. This can include brand performance, business forecasts, strategic plans, trade secrets or any legal information.



There you have it! I hope you have liked my brief blog series on Digital Marketing, I have enjoyed writing about it – and finding all those fabulous gifs. Please do comment on any of my blog posts and go forth and market digitally! 

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4 thoughts on “Social Media vs Ethics

  1. Hi Kiri,

    Great blog post.

    I think the being ethical should be held as a core responsibility for any company, especially when referring to online content. Having information so accessible to anyone allows great potential for companies to reach new clients but also come with risk and leaves them very vulnerable to negative backlash.

    The format of this post is also helpful for businesses. The outline of tips for a successful and ethical online presence are clear and easy to understand therefore can be adapted/utilised by companies.

    Perhaps a way to expand and better this post would be to elaborate on each point further.

    Well done.



    1. Thanks Maddie,

      There are a lot of risks for company backlash in this digital world where everyone has an equal voice.
      And I agree there are lots more that can be said about each topic and many more suggestions for businesses to run a successful online presence, you could write a book about it!


  2. I really enjoyed the information you conveyed in this post, it was super informative and super helpful. Who knew there was a spam act?
    I also agree with maddie that being ethical should be at the forefront of any business!
    However I feel like if you did expand further businesses would be deterred from reading this awesome post
    so I disagree with that suggestion, I believe your post is short and to the point and easy to understand for all businesses and interested parties
    Keep up the fantastic blog posts!!


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