It is 2020 and businesses and marketing agencies are starting to realise that with going online they have responsibility, a social media responsibility. Businesses are responsible to make sure that the content that they are sending out is responsible. But what does that actually mean, to include social media responsibility into your marketing outreach?
The social dilemma: the impact of social media on people and behaviour
August 6, 1991. The World Wide Web (the Internet) goes live to the world. On that day the world is introduced to a new technology. A medium that gave the opportunity to connect more easily to one another. Over the years, with the Internet improving and getting more advanced, we had to find new ways to communicate and spread information. We entered an era in which we had to change our ways of acquiring news, information, and inspiration.
Our brains were exposed to so much information at the same time, that we had to learn how to process all that information. We had to adapt to the sensory overload that the Internet brought into our lives. The Internet proved to be a medium that can be very interesting and exciting. A few amongst many benefits of the Internet were to be more easily connected, finding opportunities that you wouldn’t have found otherwise, and being able to easily have access to different points of views.
However, there is also a flipside to that. There are many aspects of the Internet and social media that can be daunting and have a negative impact; you can even call it a social dilemma. This dilemma is about the impact of social media and what it can do to our individual and social behaviors. This blog post will dive into the challenges and downsides that social media brings into our lives and show how we can adapt to a social media netiquette. We will provide you with a five step guide on how to be more responsible and keep things positive online.
Social media netiquette rules: how to be accountable and keep things positive!
As mentioned, besides the many positive things attributed to social media and the Internet, there are also many downsides to it. The trending documentary that can be seen on Netflix, called the Social Dilemma dives into these dark sides of the Internet. Former CEO’s and employees of social networks such as Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter are opening up about their findings and feelings on this matter. And they are not always positive.
The downsides of social media
The Social Dilemma dives into current topics that the world is starting to look into. There are a number of societal problems that social media brings forward. These topics vary from the propagation of misinformation, promotion of conspiracy theories, political polarisation, mental health consequences, and data privacy. This documentary sheds light on the responsibility of social media companies, and on what they can and can’t do to ensure safety online, on their social networks.
Accountability and social responsibility for businesses
The concerns discussed in the social dilemma documentary can also be applied to online businesses that want to improve their accountability and responsibility on their online platforms. Not all societal problems can be overcome at the same time, or at all. But businesses can definitely help to make their online space a more optimistic and healthy place for their consumers and followers. First we will discuss the importance of a social media netiquette, after we will outline a guide with 5 steps to become more accountable and responsible online.
The importance of a social media netiquette
The importance of a social media netiquette lies within the insights in how you, as a marketing agency or online business, can be more responsible online. A social media netiquette is a guideline that you can use to contribute to a healthier and more positive online space. There are a few questions that you can ask before writing out this netiquette. Questions such as: how can I use social media in a responsible way, what are the responsibilities of a business and what effects does social media have on corporate responsibility?
These questions can be asked in the first step of our guideline. This is the step where you and your team are brainstorming about your responsibility as a business. Businesses do have different responsibilities online compared to individuals like you and me. Not only are businesses often on the forefront of the niche they operate in, they also provide an online space where many people will interact with them and amongst themselves.
Five things to consider to become more responsible and accountable on your social media platforms
This guideline will enable you and your team to find ways to create your own corporate social media netiquette. What can you do to bring more positivity to the online world? How can you make sure that you only share true information? What impact do you want to have on your consumers? Walk through the following guideline to find the answers you are looking for.
1. Brainstorm with your team
Everyone in your team is different and everyone comes from different backgrounds. This is why we recommend to sit down with your team and brainstorm about topics such as the propagation of misinformation, promotion of conspiracy theories, political polarisation, mental health consequences, and data privacy. There will be different points of view that will give different kinds of insights on the topics that will be discussed. Make sure to have a list of things you would like to discuss, but also give room for a discussion to develop organically. Write down the main insights and take this with you in your social media outreach.
Hire a community manager that is knowledgeable with the do’s and don’t of social media. Find someone who knows the importance of words. After all, this person will represent your company online and words and actions that are sent out by this person are permanent. You want your community manager, who will handle complaints and comments, to be someone who understands that there are real people that he/she is talking to on the Internet. On the other hand, you also want this person to be able to enthuse and inform your audience properly.
3. Check your facts
There is a vast amount of information to be found online, many of which is fake news. Social media problems that are part of the so-called social dilemma are the propagation of misinformation and the promotion of conspiracy theories. As a business or marketing agency you really want to fact-check and be careful what you are sending out into the world. If you are unsure if what you are going to post is entirely true or not, then take the following rule of thumb; don’t post it. This way we can all contribute to the Internet being a place where the norm is to send out only true information.
4. Be inclusive
Being inclusive within your social media communication means that you and your team are aware that your target audience can consist of a group of people that is bigger than you think. Your followers will be from different backgrounds, different ethnicities, and different countries. We suggest to brainstorm inclusivity and what that means to your business. Maybe you are working with models, then you can portray people from different sizes and different skin tones. Maybe your company portrays certain opinions, then you can always think about how you can shed light on different points of view. Get creative and strive for inclusiveness
5. Before posting: do the front yard test
Last but not least, after brainstorming all points mentioned above, we would like to suggest to use the ‘front-yard test’ before posting. The front-yard test is a test in which you simply ask your team: is the post that we want to send out online something that we would comfortably place on a giant poster in our front yard, for everyone of my neighbours to see? If the answer is yes, then it’s very simple: your post is ready to be sent out!!
What can we learn from this?
In the end, social media is just a tool that we can utilize to send out messages to the world. We can have an amazing impact on the people around us and on our own businesses. We can’t solve all societal problems at once, but we can certainly contribute to a more positive internet with a business netiquette that all of your employees can use. This way, we all contribute to a better online space in which your followers do want to come back for more.
How we can help you
Would you like to know more about social media management? We have written a blog about it before, you can read it here. Do you need any help with creating a social media netiquette? Or would you like to know more about rebranding, social media strategies or social media responsibility? Get in touch, we are here to help.