Social media ethics is something that is left untouched by a lot of people on the internet. It’s really important and something we should have a conversation about. After all, it defines our behavior, how people see us, or if you’re into business talk: your personal brand. Ethics are not what you preach, but what you practice.
Here are some social media ethics that I think could make the world a better and more loving place if we all used them:
I hate it when I have found something good and then somebody else links to it or shares it without mentioning where they got it. That’s why I always put in a “via” – the internet and the people on it love links – so spread the love!
Sharing pictures on blogs
If I use a picture on my blog – I mention where I got it. Social media ethics FTW! – spread the link love rockers! Most people don’t mind that you’re using their stuff if you tell the world where you got it. Sometimes I find a drop-dead gorgeous picture, which I want to use in a presentation for a keynote. If a picture is protected by copyright, I ask the person if it’s ok that I use it. Haven’t gotten a no yet on that account.
Remember that what’s said on social media is often very black and white. You can’t be in between. Just keep that in mind when you discuss it. My all-time worst discussions are political discussions. There’s just no way to tell people to respect that some people have a different opinion than yours. On the internet, we speak in what I call our “ultimate truth”. Most times, these discussions are text-based so either you agree (and tell it to the world). Strongly disagree (and tell it to the world). But if you’re indifferent about something you often just browse on through the emails or news feeds. That’s why it comes out like ultimatums. Keep that in mind.
One of the things that really gets to me, is people who keep adding me to groups without me approving it. I know you can do that on Facebook, and there’s no way (yet) that you can block people from doing it (you can with “event invites”, apps and pages). To me, it seems like a hole in permission marketing that some people are using to their advantage. Adding people again and again to new groups, creates more bad than goodwill, in my opinion, so watch that invite button.
People who share their content everywhere
You know those people who share everything they create into groups just because they can? It reminds me of a link baiting scheme. Making the rounds when you need traffic for your website, or you have a particular call-to-action you want to push. It is a big mistake to do this on a continuous basis. Especially if you’re not contributing to the group apart from doing your seeding each time you have something you need to “launch”.
I do it myself though, on my channels where people have actively signed up to hear what I have to say. But in my point of view, there’s a big difference between sharing on your social media “embassies” and then sharing stuff in groups where people haven’t signed up to get your… Well – should we say.. close-to-spam? As a moderator of several groups on the internet, over-sharing is a problem. There’s a lot of discussions going on about whether or not it should be “allowed” if the content you’re sharing is of value to the people in the group.
I say nay. Not if it’s simply a part of a scheme. I think everybody owes to themselves to listen to their gut feeling whether or not they should be sharing their oh-so-valuable content. If it’s something you’re over the top about and you simply can’t resist because it’s that good – go for it!
I would love to give a shout-out to moderators of groups. Most of you are doing a great job. If you have people who are unhappy with you because you’re keeping a close eye on how much people share (or spam), no worries. Mention to them that you’re watching their back and making sure that people don’t see them as “that person” who continuously push their own content for other people to buy. You make sure they’re not crossing the fine line between “valuable input” and “spammer” in a matter of updates. Or the fine line from goodwill around your brand to bad will.