Reputation saving tips for an ethical online marketing campaign

Does ethics matter in the competitive, often ruthless world of digital marketing?  There are three very important reasons why it should matter to your brand:

  1. Your brand image and reputation. Do you want to be known as a controversial brand, one that gets people talking but isn’t very well liked? Or, a brand with a strong ethical and moral stance?
  2. Consumer trust. Trust is everything when it comes to building a strong and loyal customer base. Unethical or morally questionable strategies can erode consumer trust and push customers elsewhere, because they don’t feel comfortable using your brand.
  3. The law. Falling foul of advertising laws and ethics standards can cause a reputational hit, but it can also be a blow to your bank balance if you face fines and even prosecution.

How to run an ethical online campaign

To avoid gaffes, prevent damage to your reputation and to promote a positive, ethical stance for your brand, bear the following in mind:

  • Always mark paid endorsements and advertisements as such. To neglect to do so is misleading to the consumer. If you’ve given someone a free product in exchange for a review, always disclose it no matter how positive or negative the review.
  • Always mark paid endorsements and advertisements as such. To neglect to do so is misleading to the consumer. If you’ve given someone a free product in exchange for a review, always disclose it no matter how positive or negative the review.
  • Provide credible, accurate information. In the age of ‘fake news’, it’s important that your customers and followers feel that they can trust you to tell them the truth. This means researching everything fully and double-checking your sources. If you’re an expert on what you do and you’re offering consumers advice, being accurate and credible should be no problem.
  • Credit where it’s due. Always make sure you have the rights and permission to use something if it isn’t yours, whether it’s an image or a piece of text. If you aren’t sure, ask. It can be very bad for your image if it appears like you’ve stolen something without asking, and you could even face legal problems.
  • Put a social media policy in place. Every brand should have a policy in place for all marketing communications, especially social media. This lays out how all communications with customers are handled, whether it’s responding to complaints on Twitter or the tone of email marketing copy. Without such a policy, you could end up trending online for the wrong reasons.
  • Avoid fake reviews. So you have no positive reviews yet, or perhaps even a few negative ones. Resist the temptation to come up with a few of your own – customers will spot it a mile off. Instead, come up with ways to incentivise customers who’ve had a good experience to leave genuine positive reviews.
  • Clue up on social media marketing regulations. According to a Chartered Institute of Marketing report, over half of marketers have little or no understanding of the regulations on marketing using social media platforms. This means they are likely to be breaking the rules, which could lead to reputational damage or worse if discovered.

Does your brand have its own code of ethics for digital marketing? If so, what does it entail? Please feel free to share your thoughts. 

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