With the speed and spontaneity of social media, business ethics need to be a strong point as companies stand to be more exposed than ever.

While social media is a great publicity tool for the good times, it can quickly backfire if we don’t take constant responsibility for how our company is perceived.

“Being good is good business”

Coined by Dame Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop, these words sum up what good business ethics should be – simply ‘being good’. Roddick set an excellent example by standing for for all things humanitarian, while running a highly successful retail business.

If you aim to run your business with sincerity while helping others achieve positive outcomes, social media offers perfect tools for you. There are numerous channels you can take to reach out, listen and assist people in ways you know best. Your passion and generosity makes helping others easy, and it is reflected in your manner of communicating. Your audience can see where you are coming from.

And just as important, how people view your business is also reflected in how they are talking about you in the social space.

Dot your i’s and cross your t’s

With good ethics comes the responsibility to provide quality, accurate information. The technological need for speed has many people thinking less before they put things out there.

Check your sources; double-check your stories. Maintain a flow of real information to inspire real interest, and you will gain trust and respect as an authority.

Do good by your readers, and they’ll do good by you.

Call off the dogs

Sometimes things don’t go to plan. Even for the best of us.

You should always have a plan of defense ready should people post negative statements about your business, your people or your products.

Make sure your social media policy includes response processes that are polite and diplomatic. Try and resolve bad comments for all to see so everyone wins. If an issue can’t be resolved publicly, try and take the matter to a private space and keep working on it until it is hopefully resolved.

Negative reactions from your business just add to the fire, and could damage you for some time afterwards.

An example of what NOT to do can be found in the article “What Other Companies Can Learn from Nestle’s Facebook Page“.

It’s your responsibility

Whether it’s in your day to day business culture, the information you share, or how others perceive you, it is up to you to take responsibility by developing ethics in the workplace matched with ethical social media policies and processes.

If you have ethics well covered in all aspects, you will avoid a lot of problems within social media and any resulting slow climbs back to where you should be.

Have you experienced any ethical problems with social media in your business? Do you have any stories about other businesses? Share your stories in the box below.

Carolyn Wilson
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