Everyone knows businesses are mainly interested in social media for the free advertisement they receive when anyone retweets/likes one of their posts.
The question is, how far are they willing to go to maximize this advertisement?
A popular avenue to drum up interest for their posts is to post humorous pictures or comments. Because who doesn’t enjoy a good laugh? But with so many Facebook and Twitter accounts, it is common that the only the inappropriate or scathing personal jokes attract interest. This naturally encourages businesses on social media to post this type of content. Even if a business was to step over the line of what we deem publicly acceptable, the negative publicity surrounding the inappropriate post is likely to just fuel the fire. People sharing the post for bad reasons still gets the business closer to its ultimate goal of free advertisement. As the saying goes, all publicity is good publicity.
Tesco’s twitter account is famous for it’s witty responses to it’s mentions. It walks the fine line of humor and humiliation very well. The account is clearly well staffed and monitored because they actually respond helpfully to many genuine questions about the store. This is the way social media should be used by businesses – to the benefit of its customers. However it is evident that this fine line is very hard to walk and requires day-to-day management, which costs money. So should businesses just stick to remaining professional online and leave the jokes behind? They could solely use social media as a way to promote their new products and to respond to questions from customers. Sure it may be less entertaining, but it would be ethically sound and their reputation would remain untarnished.
Commonly we see businesses reposting pictures and videos from other accounts, without crediting the original owner. Would you call this stealing? Either way it’s not ethically correct as they are using someone else’s hard work without permission in order to benefit themselves. Technically this isn’t a problem that concerns the business. The problem is related to ownership of content online. If there is no copyright in place then who says they can’t repost it under their account without giving credit. This topic is under hot debate and can be read about in further detail here.