Does ethics still exist in digital marketing?
For those who missed the programme, the investigation centred around the abuse of social media to promote brands through fake likes, purchased by the thousand from ‘like farms’ in Bangladesh.
As with any industry, there will always be a select few who bend or break the rules to gain a perceived advantage over the competition. But it’s this kind of activity that causes entire industries to be questioned.
The truth of the matter is that the majority of social media marketers (including those at Novacom, I might add!) are honest, ethical people who will work hard to cultivate a high quality, genuine and engaged social media audience organically.
Here at Novacom, we make sure that all our employees are rigorously trained on ethics and corporate and social responsibility (CSR), and that we have processes in place to ensure that all of our team works to these standards.
One of the main issues raised during the Channel 4 programme was that brands seemed unaware of these shady practices being carried out on their behalf, and took the offending agencies’ claims of large increases in followers or likes in a very short time at face value.
The problem with this is that under advertising standards, the brand would be held accountable and could be fined.
Brand and marketing managers should therefore be made aware of how their contracted agencies manage their social media accounts, and whether this activity is sub-contracted – and the agency should make sure they make their offer transparent and open.
In order to remain accountable, the agency should also have rigorous in-house content development and approval processes to ensure consistent messaging, corporate compliance and communications quality.
And ultimately, any agency offering fake likes will not deliver an engaged audience as any subsequent messages sent to the fake audience will not be received by a genuine audience, meaning there is very little offer of return on investment.
Brand and marketing managers need to make sure they ask questions of their agencies, and agencies should be open and transparent to build strong client relationships, understand their client’s needs, and deliver them genuine competitive advantage.
Isn’t anything else just a rip-off?
For more blog posts from Will Yates and Novacom, please see our website: www.novacomcorporation.com.