Does Your Online Integrity Stand Up to Inspection?

super-hero-social largeOnline content and social media have become the new super heroes of the marketing world. A cost effective means of disseminating credible third party endorsement on a global scale, these 21st century tactics have proved their value to business-to-business and consumer audiences alike.

The ‘Keeping Social Honesty’ report published last week by the CIM (Chartered Institute of Marketing), calls into question both the credibility and the value of social media, however. Following revelations about big brands buying followers from ‘click farms’ and accusations of fake reviews being posted online, audiences are beginning to question whether they can truly trust everything they see online.

They can’t, of course.  No more than they can believe everything they read in the newspaper, watch on TV or see in an ad. But they should be able to. While ads and news coverage have always been subjective, third party endorsement is expected to be completely without agenda.

As a result, audiences that experience a company acting dishonestly online are likely to be unforgiving, with 47 percent of those who responded to the CIM survey stating that they would boycott a brand if they suspected such behaviour. It’s a clearly a significant problem, with 52 per cent of the marketers questioned in the survey expressing concern that the effectiveness of the channel as a marketing platform is at risk as a result.

So what’s the answer?  Clearly greater regulation is the ideal response but this doesn’t appear to be forthcoming and would be difficult to police.  Instead, the only way to turn the tide of confidence back in favour of online marketing channels – for both marketers and audiences – is for each individual brand to take ownership of its own integrity across all platforms and for the entire organisation.

Here are our five top tips for doing just that:

  • Avoid dishonest practices such as using SEO to hide negative comments or paying ‘click farms’ to generate views, likes or shares


  • Ensure your company has a social media policy and ensure that it’s communicated effectively throughout your organisation
  • Make your commitment to online integrity public – share your policy with customers so that they know what that can expect from you
  • Don’t oblige employees to like or follow the company and ensure that their employment is clearly visible on their personal profiles so that any endorsement is transparent
  • Ensure that any agency partners you use share your commitment to best practice because their rogue actions could impact on your brand

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