Sunday, May 23, 2010

Social Media Marketing Ethics

                                    Image by Wonderlane

In the "good old days," marketers and public relations professionals could have "ethical lapses," and employee less than the most scrupulous methods in obtaining results for their companies, clients, and themselves, with little chance of getting caught. No longer... 

The advent of the social Web has made dishonest marketing and PR practices difficult, if not impossible, to perpetrate--without eventual detection. For example, a 2006 Osterman Research report (commissioned by BoldMouth) found that it was commonplace for companies to “incentivize” bloggers and influential discussion forum users to post positive reviews about a product or service. These incentives often took the form of giving the blogger the product or service for free in exchange for a glowing assessment. 

However, in today's online world, where Google records almost every scrape of information, including social news and gossip, such deceptions are usually uncovered, resulting in massive condemnation by online communities that not only cancel out any gains made by the unethical behavior, but likely cause irreparable harm to the reputation of the perpetrator. When an individual garners this level of mistrust and negative publicity, it is almost always guarantees a detrimental financial impact.

Moreover in October 2009, a WSJ article revealed that, "New guidelines released by the Federal Trade Commission say bloggers must disclose any money or freebies they receive in exchange for writing product reviews." The rules extend to Facebook, Twitter and other social media portals. Bloggers who choose to continue to take payola for favorable reviews risk not only being ostracized by the very communities they need to survive, but now face running a foul of FTC rules and the consequent legal repercussions.

So, it turns out that in social media marketing, mom was right, "Honesty is the best policy." By creating authentic and genuine content, disclosing who are in online conversations, and being transparent (revealing any interest you have in products or services), you will gain the respect of the community where you operate and eventually the members will trust your opinions, which vastly improves your odds of influencing people into making purchase, subscribing to a newsletter, and so on (i.e., conversions).

The resources below provide further tips on how to be a successful social media marketer by following ethical behavioral guidelines:

Friday, May 7, 2010

Using Flickr to Promote Your Business!

Flickr is an image sharing service, where many artists and photographers upload their work for free. It is owned by Yahoo!, which Terms of Use explicitly prohibits blatantly exploiting Flickr for any commercial purposes. As an example, uploading a photo that advertises your Web site, company, brand, product, or service would violate this agreement and would likely anger the active Flickr community.

So, how can a business or individual use Flickr to promote themselves? By becoming an active Flickr member and contributor, you can use the following strategies to reap marketing benefits without stepping on anyone's
toes. First, you can use your Web site address (e.g., or ) as your Flickr screen name, which makes every image you post an advertisement for your Web site. Second, create image tags (descriptive keywords) that include your company, brand, or product name.

Third, include your company information in your Flickr profile. Fourth, link all the images you post on Flickr back to your Web site or blog. That way, people who find your photos can follow the link back to your site, which can increase traffic and, hence, your search engine rankings. Finally, post your images using the Flickr Creative Commons (CC) license, which encourages Web site owners and bloggers to use your images to spice up their sites. The CC license requires sites that use Flickr images to credit their creators by linking back to their Flickr "photostreams." This provide yet another method to promote yourself or your company on Flickr. 

The following resources provide details and many more ideas for using Flickr to promote your Web site, company, brand, product, service, or blog: