Influencers and thought leaders have a persuasive power both online and offline to impact decision makers. Equally, they usually have large audiences that look up to them for their expertise and wisdom. With great power comes great responsibility, so here are some ethical points influencers should take into consideration before posting or amplifying content online.
Ethical Considerations When Sharing Content and Building Your Audience
Pace Yourself When It Comes To Automation
Don’t get me wrong – automation tools are great at saving time, helping you with a consistent social presence, and providing insights into your social activity. However, there is a thin line of overusing automation. Don’t just share for sharing’s sake. It will keep your social presence active, yes, but it lacks the human touch that makes us connect with one another. Share things you genuinely find interesting, and your audience will respond to it more.
Quality Over Quantity
When it comes to sharing, more isn’t necessarily always better. Oversharing is a trap that people sometimes fall into. You should respect that your audience might not want to see the same tweet come up on their feed ten times a day. People will eventually get tired from over-saturation of the same content.
If you share less but curate and handpick your content more, you will reap the rewards.
“Good manners are always in style as are good ethics. Honesty, truthfulness, respect and responsibility are table stakes. Social media ethics are no different than workplace ethics. If you want to maintain long lasting, positive relationships, you need to put your best foot forward. Your content is a reflection of you and what you value. Your social media creates a first impression.” Jo Peterson
Don’t Spread Wildfire
With new technologies, especially ones like 5G, concerns and various conspiracy theories can emerge and spread like wildfire. Even if you don’t like the new technology, you should express your views in such a way that does not evoke fear-mongering. You should always have the freedom to express your thoughts, but do consider your message and ask yourself “is this inciting fear?” Express your negative views in such a way that won’t make your audience panic.
Credit Where Credit’s Due
15If you’re citing something or using someone else’s words, don’t be stingy, give them their deserved credit.
When crediting the original author, you not only acknowledge their hard work, but you do yourself a favour, too. Most of the time, people are happy when others share or recycle their content, and they are more likely to engage with you and share your post. Which, in turn, will increase the reach of your own content. A win-win situation!
“What is a great idea? Many come from unexpected people & places – Be part of the inspirational force, who helps bring it to life.” Fields Jackson, Jr
Acknowledge Your Responsibility
You have a big audience that looks up to you. When re-sharing content, make sure it is from reliable sources, and is not fake news or false information. Take into consideration the fact that your amplified content will be seen by a multitude of people & thus – share with caution.
Your Opinion Is Not Fact
Understand the difference between opinion and fact. When something is your opinion, make sure not to state it as cold hard fact. It is easy to use language that is too assertive, and comes across as something that is established, and shouldn’t be questioned. Use language that denotes an opinion rather than fact.
Pay The Piper
If you’ve made a mistake or someone points out something wrong with your content – be accountable. Nobody’s perfect, our knowledge continuously evolves, and so do we! If you make a mistake, own it, learn from it and move on. People respect those who take accountability for their mistakes, grow, and better themselves.
Ethical Considerations When Delivering Work for Clients
Don’t Wear Too Many Hats
While it is perfectly fine to share content on topics you’re not a 100% an expert on, you should only offer your expertise for brands when you know the topic inside out.
If it’s a topic you really care about – consider collaborating with another influencer who is an expert, and who can speak with credibility on the topic. Not only will this produce better content, it will also reach a wider audience due to the collaboration.
“The type of person to engage should: Stick to their specialisms (avoiding “expertise creep”). Generating genuinely thought leading, and challenging content, that maintains their independence.” Peter Lavers
This one comes as no surprise when working with clients – it is always important to respect the privacy and boundaries they have set for you. If, for example, you are reviewing a product with a release date that hasn’t been revealed yet, you should not disclose it in any of your content.
Transparency & Honesty
People value honesty. If you are representing a brand & getting paid for it, you should make that known.
You should also be truthful about your feelings towards the product, software, or service. Work with brands when you have used their products and genuinely liked them. If you do not like their product, you shouldn’t promote it.
Your audience trusts you, and trust breeds trust. Being honest will give you credibility, and people will look up to you as someone they can rely on.
“In terms of ethics, I would say I’ve got a very strong value set. There has to be a values alignment. Additionally, in the last nine months or so, more brands and agencies ask for certain ethical disclosures to make it clear that you are involved in a campaign. There are often specific hashtags to use.” Sally Eaves
Avoid over-hyping something. While you might get excited about a new feature, you should talk it up in a way that does not set expectations that might be a little too high. It is easy to get excited about innovation, but if over-hyped, that innovation might not seem as exciting to others as it did to you.
Lay down real expectations of what a product or service can offer. If you have thousands of followers online, you have a responsibility to your audience; align what you’re promoting with their expectations.
Define Your Own Ethical Values
Your name and your social presence are your brand. Define your ethical values, what you stand for, what you support, and what you’re against. When creating content for brands always look back on those values and make sure that the content aligns with your own.
You should also take one step further – work with brands that have the same values you do. Or work with those brands toward making changes to their values, educate them on how to do better.
“Regardless of what you do, and which industry you are in, your name is your brand. What you share matters – what you say matters – and how you present yourself matters. Be authentic and stay true to your words and your values. And share responsibly – not blindly.” Theodora Lau
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