How Often Do Ethical Questions Impact Your Social Media Efforts?

Over the course of the last week, while working on social media initiatives for several clients, the following questions or situations came up:

  • A client missing an opportunity to engage in a conversation (coupled with desire of agency team members to respond)
  • A situation that would require disclosing my (or my agency’s) role in working with a client who wishes to keep the work and our relationship secret
  • Working with customer data within social networks, privacy concerns about using the data for targeting
  • Agency employees interested in engaging in conversation for a client initiative (on Facebook, Twitter or elsewhere) without disclosing relationships
  • A friend, knowing a client relationship, asking if it’s OK to “vent” about that client in social (of course I said yes, and I can hope my client responds and does the “right thing” to help.)

I could share my responses to these issues, but I’d rather hear from you.  So my question is to you: If you work in social media or even work for a company that is leveraging social channels for various purposes, how often do you come across ethical concerns?  What types of issues are your seeing?  Who do you turn to for guidance?

By the way, Todd Defren has a great series called Real World Ethical Dilemmas in Social Media that explore situations in greater detail.  I’m curious how often these come up for you – please describe your role too and thanks in advance.

Photo credit: swiv via flickr

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Co-opetition in the World of Social Media Marketing

Changing markets cause change for those who serve them. As businesses adapt and figure out how social media will impact how they conduct day to day functions, service providers are adapting too.  These days companies have a high probability of encountering any of the following providing social media services:

  • Sole prioprietor (independent contractor)
  • Social media agency (small, medium and increasingly larger)
  • PR agency (traditional, new media, all sizes)
  • Digital or interactive agency (all sizes)
  • Advertising agency (all sizes, but particularly the big dogs)
  • CRM consulting firm
  • Database marketing agency

In an effort to help bring some clarity to the situation, friends (and business partners, and competitors) Todd Defren of SHIFT and Aaron Strout of Powered have collaborated with me to give you a snippet of what makes us different.  We have some overlap and we also have some ways we can complement each other.  We are doing business together and competing.  Either way, hopefully this lets potential clients know more about what makes us different.  How’d we do?  I’d encourage your to read Todd’s post and Aaron’s post to get their commmentary as well.

Todd Defren

This is my company…

One of the top-25 PR agencies in the U.S., with offices in NYC, San Francisco and Boston, SHIFT is an agency that helps organizations of all sizes better communicate with the people that matter to their business.  Sometimes that’s “the media,” sometimes that’s “some loudmouth on Twitter.”  Companies ranging from Quiznos to Club Med, from tiny start-ups to established tech companies, look to SHIFT for counsel and execution on both branded and earned media.

What we do…

SHIFT focuses on “on-going engagement” vs. “campaigns.”  And because relationships change over time, our targets and tactics evolve as-needed.  Thus the portfolio of services a client will tap into can include: Traditional Media Relations (coverage in NYTimes, TODAY Show, eWeek, etc.) + Social Media Relations (dialogue with relevant Facebook Group admins, Twitterati, etc.) + Content and App Development + Community Management (running a YouTube channel or Facebook Fanpage).

This is why you should call me (type of challenge or project)…

We are generally called on by large brands that need to act more like a start-up or by small companies that want to take things to the next level.  If your company needs more overall visibility (“get ink!”); needs to better engage with consumers (“that Social Media stuff!”); or needs to brand or re-brand in the marketplace, it’s worth a conversation.

This is when you should call someone else…

While we bring plenty of creativity to the table, when it comes to execution portion of app development, videography, website development, advertising campaigns, media buying and SEO, SHIFT will turn to quality partners like Powered and Rosetta, among others.

Aaron Strout

This is my company…

Powered is a dedicated social media agency that helps brands fully capitalize on their social initiatives. With 75 employees in four offices (Austin, New York City, Portland and San Francisco) we brings “best-in-class” expertise across the social spectrum to our clients by offering a combination of strategy, planning, activation and management for social presence and programs.

What we do

Okay, I guess I answered this in the “this is my company” section but to add on, we help big brands with strategy and activation (getting their key stakeholders like customers, prospects, partners or employees) to do things that create value for their brand. Those activities might include evangelizing, contributing, participating or learning.

This is why you should call me (type of challenge or project)

We’re really at our best when we’re helping big brands (mainly B2C) connect their social efforts to their marketing efforts. We start by fleshing out a cohesive strategy and then move toward the activation. In many cases, this includes focusing on things like influencer outreach, ambassador programs, Facebook Fanpages, applications and customer tabs and the building and managing of branded online communities.

This is when you should call someone else.

We’re still not particularly good at media buying, custom web development (outside of Facebook and community building), SEM and general site SEO. We also don’t do any traditional PR. For those activities, I’d strongly recommend talking to our friends at Rosetta and SHIFT, both of whom we partner/work with.

Adam Cohen

This is my company…

Rosetta is the largest independent digital agency in the US. Using a patented approach to segmentation, called Personality® Segmentation (yep, it’s patented and a differentiator), which provides deep insights into the drivers of consumer behavior, Rosetta’s teams translate these insights into relevant marketing solutions to attract, retain and strengthen a brand’s most valuable customer relationships. With 720+ team members, Rosetta is headquartered in Princeton, NJ, with offices in NYC, Cleveland, Boston, Chicago, Denver and most recently Toronto.

What we do

We help companies develop strategies and implement marketing tactics, combining the best of insight + technology – from eCommerce to Paid Search to Creative to Analytics to Relationship Marketing. With all the tools in a marketer’s toolbox, we strive to be a CMO’s most trusted partner.  Our industry expertise includes Retail & Consumer Products; Healthcare; Financial Services; Communications, Media & Technology, and B2B.

This is why you should call me (type of challenge or project)

We’re best when we bring to together marketing disciplines and industry acumen to provide measurable integrated solutions.  We shine we get the opportunity to demonstrate business results across tactics – like integrating eCommerce with paid search/SEO, driving the best creative with analytics and measurement, or infusing CRM with Personality Segmentation.

This is when you should call someone else.

Traditional media outlets are outside of our sweet spot (TV, print, radio), along with traditional PR.  Our social media practice is focused on infusing social into all of our marketing disciplines, but we are partnering with world-class agencies like SHIFT on outreach programs and Powered on designing the best approaches to engage and activate communities.

***

Thanks again to Todd and Aaron for providing thought provoking insights for the topic – these are two guys for whom I have the utmost respect in working with (and occasionally against).  Todd says it best: “Where we compete, we do so with respect and good humor.  Where we can cooperate, we do so with gumption and gusto.”

Did this help provide clarity? Where do you think the market will be in five, ten years? We’re all a ways away from the winning formula and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Photo credit: eworm via flickr