Ethics

Social media puts business ethics in the spotlight

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“But I for one believe that one of the gifts of Social Media marketing is the movement of business into an Ethical age, one where ethical action (largely) leads to more money, greater success.”

-Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu

One of the more interesting conversations I’ve witnessed on ethical behavior was about SEO link building. The discussion was on the issue of misrepresenting who you are for the purpose of building links to a website. Some felt a “little white lie” doesn’t hurt anyone and can help increase the odds of success in obtaining back-links.

Others believed that a lie is a lie and is wrong whether someone gets hurt or not. One insightful guy pointed out that someone always gets hurt by a lie: the person telling it.

Businesses Behaving Badly

Not long ago it was easy to be unethical in business. People were less likely to find out. As consumers we simply did not have access to information about what lies were told to us and who was telling them. And for some organizations, dishonesty was fine as long as it helped sell products and earn profits.

The last decade and the great recession we faced recently were full of unethical actions by many people. You could argue much of our economic situation resulting from that time is due to a lot of unethical behavior.

Dishonesty has always been bad business. But now it’s even worse. Now, because of the Internet and the social media technology it has spawned, bad behavior is more likely to be discovered. If you lie, cheat and steal, someone will find out. And they will tell others.

Nowhere Left to Hide

Social media technology has given us two powerful tools. We all have better eyesight to see what’s going on around us. And we all have a louder voice to tell others what we see.

These tools are growing in their abilities. From Twitter to LinkedIn to FaceBook and others, we have readily available resources to discover and share information. As more people use these platforms and make them part of their routine, we’ll see their capabilities increase. This means the world will continue to become smaller and more transparent.

Dishonesty and other unethical behavior will have fewer places to hide.

For businesses and other organizations, social media offers the opportunity to build a good reputation by what you do, not what you say. Because of the power of social networks — our actions really do speak louder than our words.

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