Is Social Media Monitoring Ethical?

Social Media Monitoring

Around the beginning of the last decade, a new trend emerged that has not only affected the public relations field, but the corporate world as well. Thanks to emergence of the internet, Social Media markets have forever changed the way “we do business.” Social media has offered corporations many benefits. Such as helping to expand their marketing and brand incentives to further boosting the corporate world with providing the phenomena known as instant response. With instant response, consumers can voice their opinions about products or the corporation in a matter of seconds.

The fact that whatever has been posted on the internet can never… 

  1. Be permanently deleted
  2. Information being offered is not only produced by the company but also by the consumer
  3.  That these sites are visited by the thousands if not millions on a daily basis

Makes social media sites both a hazard and a benefit to the practice of modern public relations. The solution to this hazard for many has been the use of social media monitoring.

 Ethics & Trust

Ethical guidelines are not set in stone. They vary from person-to-person, but as one of my professors once put it, if you wouldn’t tell your grandmother about it then it’s probably not ethical. As Chris Brogan explains it, “ethics are our guideline of considering what is right and wrong”. In the linked presentation, Hobson states that “we understand ethical behavior is a key part of maintaining trust.”  (SMM)

While reading for another class this week in Laurie Wilson & Joseph Ogden’s book Strategic Communication Planning for Effective Public Relations and Marketing, I came across a section on trust in the corporate world and this stuck out to me…”the most trusted source of information now is a peer, or person like me.”  (p.2)

What’s the Problem with Social Media? & How Does Monitoring It Help?

 The problem with social media occurs when the consumer mistakes communication from the corporation with messages originating from other consumers. It seems like this wouldn’t happen, but it does.  A lot of corporate owned domains are either disguised or confused as being “consumer owned sites.”

 The way that people have responded to this issue is through the use of media monitoring.  Both corporations and the “public” have recently used this to keep each other in check. Sites such as Radian6 and customscoop.com have been created with the intention to track all the news about an organization that pops up on blogs and other social media sites. Corporations have been using these domains especially to help further instant responses from their publics.

Is this Ethical?

As I stated above, our ethical guidelines are rooted in the creation and the preservation of trust. Trust for the corporation and its products and trust between consumers. In my opinion, I think that social media monitoring was created by the consumers out of the distrust of the information being presented from the corporations. Corporations themselves have seen the advantages of social media monitoring and “hopped on the bandwagon” making social media monitoring a growing industry.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Is Social Media Monitoring Ethical?

  1. Natalia

    I believe you may have one of the best Social Media & Ethics posts as of yet. I enjoyed reading your breakdown of Social Media and then the act of monitoring social media as it relates to ethics. I saw that also you referred to Chris Brogan, someone that I have come to admire after being introduced to him by Professor Barbara Nixon. I believe he offers a lot of insight on ethics, social media, and how they relate to each other. I’m not sure if I agree with the statement “social media monitoring was created by the consumers out of the distrust of the information being presented from the corporations.” I feel as though social media monitoring is more so corporations have the ability to monitor what consumers are saying about their brands. In my eyes, most consumers have no idea that companies are out there searching the web, monitoring conversations, and then tailoring their marketing approaches, branding campaigns, and simply their brands to what the consumers are saying they want.

  2. Pingback: The Comment Tango « SoTal

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