Social Media Monitoring: Is it ethical?

30 Jan

In Jeff Bullas’s post, 28 Reasons Why The CEO Is Afraid Of Social Media, he lists various reasons why companies have not yet begun to implement social media into their business plan.  A few common fears and misconceptions are:

  • Our customers don’t use social media.
  • Tools to measure and analyze social media aren’t mature yet.
  • It could damage the company’s reputation.

Truth is many consumers are now using social media networks to connect with one another sharing information on brands they either like or dislike and many consumers are writing blogs about their experiences with these brands.

Contrary to belief the tools for social media monitoring are advancing and wide-reaching. I have found several blog posts listing at least “13 Essential Media Listening Tools.”

Additionally, by not monitoring, answering, and responding to what’s being said about them on social media companies are hurting their own reputation.

So the question:  Is social media monitoring ethical?

Sitting back and tolerating the conversation is no longer enough for companies to do.  In order to reap the benefits of social media engagement companies need to know what people are saying and to respond when necessary.

Consumers may argue that social media monitoring breaches one’s right to privacy.  There have been many cases reported where employees were fired for information or pictures posted on their Facebook or Twitter account.

Recently a social media code of ethics was created.  It includes six guidelines for the ethical use of social media monitoring.

Social Media Code of Ethics:

  1. RESPECT: We respect our users and their opinions and pay attention to a respectful exposure to players among themselves.
  2. OBJECTIVITY: We welcome relevant content and objective criticism.
  3. ACCESSIBILITY: We respond quickly and appropriately to direct questions, suggestions and criticism.
  4. CREDIBILITY: We stand with our public statements and opinions in all conscience for transparency and credibility.
  5. HONESTY: We deal with errors openly and do not conceal them.
  6. LEGAL: We respect the rights of our users as well as the rights of uninvolved third parties, in particular copyrights, privacy rights and data protection.

Personally, I don’t have a problem with social media monitoring.  I feel that it is necessary to protect the rights and to protect the company’s integrity that’s being talked about online.  Social media monitoring also enables consumers to be their own watchdog and to make sure companies offer truthful advertising.

A few words of advice…don’t post anything online that you don’t want everyone else to know!

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