Ethical Social Media – Five Ways Business Leaders Can Get It Right

Tereza Litsa, Digital Engagement Manager at Lightful explores…

With so many obstacles today, from avoiding misinformation to countering trolls, getting social media right is more important than ever. While there’s no doubt it can be a powerful tool for telling a brand’s story, upholding ethical social media use is a fundamental first step for every business.

That’s why a growing number of organisations are looking for ways to improve their use of social platforms. We don’t have to look far for examples of companies that have taken a stand. First, luxury brand Bottega Veneta deleted its Instagram. Then, Lush announced that it was resigning social media, going “antisocial” until platforms do a better job of protecting their users against harmful content.

While these are extreme cases, the overall conversation around social media has shifted: brands are now more conscious of the need to be more purposeful with their presence. Organisations like the Conscious Advertising Network (CAN) are working to ensure that industry ethics catches up with the technology of modern advertising and communications.

Movements have also been created to spread awareness. This year, Reclaim Social, a viral social media campaign, took place on Monday 7th February, and inspired organisations and people to share how they’re using social media for good to create change.

How can you use social media ethically and reclaim it for good?

Importantly, an ethical social media presence is different for each brand. Sharing purposeful content for the sake of it doesn’t come across as authentic. Many brands have damaged their reputation by doing ‘good social media’ badly.

To improve your social media presence, you need to look at your digital strategy, your messaging and what your audience wants. Here are five tips for getting started:

1. Aim for genuine connections

Don’t treat your followers as clients. Don’t broadcast content without engaging with them. Listen to what they want from you.

2. Create inclusive and accessible content

How inclusive and accessible is your content? Review the best practices for each platform and make sure you’re not excluding anyone in your community. From the language you’re using, to the visual accessibility, audit how you come across through your channels.

3. Respect your audience’s privacy

From fraud to misleading posts and fake news, don’t lead your followers to click on things you haven’t verified. Read up on GDPR and put peoples’ online safety first.

4. Moderate hateful content

Be prepared to de-escalate a situation, including hateful and abusive content. Filter keywords that may include hurtful content for your community. Only reply if you can improve a situation.

5. Protect and grow inspiring communities

If you’re moderating an online community, encourage others to use their voices for good. Get everyone to share their own stories of change and inspire more people to be part of it. Amplify diverse voices, protect your community and make them feel confident to make a difference

Crucially, doing the minimum is not enough. Every organisation and business leader is responsible for upholding ethical social media use and creating a safe online community.