Social Media: Building Brand Awareness Ethically

Author: Sarah Blake with Laura Thorpe

16th October 2021

The Social Dilemma is more than just a film, it’s an ongoing discussion asking questions about the psychological consequences of social media; from less in-person communication to infinite scrolling, and conditioning individuals to respond to push notifications like Pavlov’s dogs. The film provides insights from the developers integral in creating the platforms and features.

Increasingly, future leaders will be held to account at the intersection between humanity and technology. The expansive possibilities of positive technology are ingenious, but depending on who is creating and using it. Indeed, the social media debate today is a precursor for much wider technological issues that will emerge years from now.

There’s no question that entrepreneurs, business leaders, and creatives need to act with integrity and be mindful. The Social Dilemma is a call to action; to reflect on how we choose to utilise social platforms now and reshape them in the future.

Social media is integral to most communications strategies. With LinkedIn having a total of 756 million users globally, and one in five adults using Twitter, it is an effective way to engage with audiences, providing space to showcase creativity and raise brand awareness. However, that’s only one side of the story.

The Social Dilemma was viewed by 38 million households within the first 28 days of release, equating to around 50 million individuals. The documentary highlights three important points, amongst others, pivotal in gaining a deeper awareness of the issues:

  1. The filter bubble and algorithms – It’s imperative to understand algorithms, and for social media companies to be more transparent about how they are used. Predominantly driven by advertising, content is filtered by algorithms to members with specific characteristics, engaging with similar content. The filter bubble enables businesses to target campaigns to predefined audiences increasing visibility. Whilst research from the DMA does show that people prefer a tailored experience when using social media, there needs to be more responsibility and awareness about how information is used, addressing key issues such as implicit bias.
  2. Growth hacking – The use of certain tactics aimed at achieving massive growth will undoubtedly compromise your ethics. Content shared, alongside the platform’s own agenda potentially has a positive or negative effect on your audience. In the case of the latter, this can be mitigated by being mindful of all content within an overall strategy together with documenting ethics, or code of conduct guidelines. Furthermore, sharing these guidelines on your website creates more honesty and transparency, building a positive relationship with clients.
  3. Young people are most affected by social media – Successful businesses with a culture that demonstrates creativity, diversity, equity, and inclusion will also comprise intergenerational teams – from baby boomers to gen-Z. Some generations don’t know a world without the internet, or social media. Whilst it is an engaging form of communication, there’s a detrimental aspect in making it the main form of communication, including mental distress from excess use, constant comparison, and isolation. Start conversations to assess and establish your standards and ethics –  The Center for Humane Technology has youth toolkits to empower and improve knowledge.

Currently, there are 4.48 billion global social media users; which equates to 57% of the world’s population.  In the year to July 2021, there was an average of 16.5 new users every second, meaning it is imperative that brands adopt more awareness and responsibility for their social media content and strategies – continuously questioning their own ethics and impact, especially on future generations.

Achieving elevated communications requires dedication and attention, ensuring the quality of content is informative and insightful, focused on attracting the correct audience as opposed to pushing a narrative – building a community of intelligent free thinkers inspired to engage. Level-up to create a culture and strategy that naturally resonates and aligns with ‘perfect fit’ clients, and highlights your brand’s uniqueness.

The future of social media marketing is ethical

Clients connect with brands that act with integrity and that fully resonate with their values and beliefs.  There are four things that all social media marketers should absolutely be doing:

  1. Be truthful: Don’t overpromise or make misleading claims. Share facts and back things up with data.
  2. Be transparent: Be honest about any affiliations or agendas you might have.
  3. Be adhering to privacy standards: Don’t share customer information or engage in audience research without consent.
  4. Be unbiased: Don’t succumb to the lure of clickbait. Remain a reliable source of information.

A well thought out strategy is not just about eyeballs and the bottom line, it’s about relationship building, transparency and wellbeing. This is how to build a strong audience on platforms because whilst social media is watching your audience, your audience is watching your brand intently. The issues with social media are some which many didn’t anticipate and as these platforms evolve, new dilemmas will emerge for humanity to solve. Our future leaders will need to be multi-dimensional, communicative, and principled to lead the change.

Bliss consulting helps business leaders to build an ethical brand presence that aligns with their vision, integrity, and customers. Contact us to learn more.