Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Social Media: Ethics and Restraint

The enemy of ethics is expediency.

We may know what the right thing to do is, but situations tend to appear that cause us to shuffle those things down in our priority list, simply because we see the end...and believe that the end is correct. This, of course, is what tends to get us into trouble. There's trouble brewing in the social-media/WOM marketing space, and, at the heart of the issue is not a misunderstanding of ethics, but rather a desire for expediency.

Word-of-mouth techniques and the use of blogs, message boards and other social media spaces requires more of markters than simple mastery of the channel. Many of us have become wizards of this world, understanding at a deep level not only the technology, but also the mechanics. We have learned how to construct a good blog post, how to get a high Technorati ranking, how to get our articles Digged, delicioused, and well-indexed.

That knowledge gives marketers an enormous advantage when it comes to competing in the Marketplace of Ideas. Here's my (modest) proposal: you should use that knowledge responsibly, especially when it comes to the task of managing criticism online.

This may actually cause some companies to exercise restraint, stopping what may feel like a good idea. The social media space belongs to everyone. It is the bazaar, and not the Cathedral. The Cathedral has always been able to use its strength (economic and otherwise) to come to the bazaar, buy up all the space, slash the prices of their products, or simply be more interesting and exciting than the individual. But they don't. Or, rather, they shouldn't.

I am not going to give you the six points that you need to follow to be an ethical WOMMer in this post. That's a task that is being well executed by WOMMA and their ethics committee (which I am a member of). But what I am going to say is simply this: think about the power that you have, and use it responsibly.
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5 Comments:

Blogger jalil said...

what does the "tend" mean in here?

"but situations tend to appear that cause us to shuffle those things down in our priority list"

and

"This is what tends to get us into trouble"

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