TOPIC 4 – BUSINESS USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA: THE EXPOSED

One of the defining phenomena of the present is the reshaping of the world into a digital era. With social media involved in sharing of content for business purpose in numerous platforms, ethics remains as one of the core value that each individual has a part to follow on the Internet.

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(Source: http://www.statista.com/graphic/5/278414/number-of-worldwide-social-network-users.jpg)

Ethics is defined the concept of what is good, bad, right and wrong. In social media, the right ethic equals the right perspective and thinking on how to leverage appropriately and to engage people in the right manner.

-POWER OF BLOGS-

According to data from a research study, nearly nine in 10 consumers (84%) make purchases after reading about a product or service on a blog.

Individual read blogs as a source of information for reviews/recommendations for new products/places. Bloggers are known to be more truthful as compared to exaggerated advertisements.

For instance, if I were to buy any cosmetic products, the first source of information will never be from the physical shop. I would rather read recommendations from Singapore Influencer Blogger – Bongqiuqiu and Xiaxue.

 

(Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUpkoIjdEu8)

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(Source: http://lh5.ggpht.com/_NWD6eKBy8S8/THxBfT2jMGI/AAAAAAAAStw/XNmlbjXZlGU/s0/P1020009e.jpg)

The above are common methods of how a blogger advertises products through social media.

According to independent survey of UK consumers, bloggers are the third most trustworthy source of information, behind friends and family.

The truthful presentation of the topic is of vital importance to the readers thus bloggers are to carry responsibilities to be fair and factual to readers.

However, there are ongoing ethical issue such as “astroturfing”, where it’s defined as the attempt to create impression of widespread grassroots support for individual, or product, where little support exists which is seen sometimes in blogs and social media accounts.

-ASTROURFING EXAMPLE-

An example would be a well-known social media management company, Gushcloud where they were exposed of their unethical practices; bloggers are encouraged to fake and inflate their advertising reviews.

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(Source: http://www.theonlinecitizen.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/yilinemail-328×450.jpg)

“Using SG Private Trainers, Xiaxue engaged the services of Gushcloud. She bought an Instagram ad for $300 where she wanted Yilin, one of the bloggers manged by Gushcloud, to promote her the company’s services without revealing the fact that it was an advertisement.”

Blogger XiaXue revealed that Gushcloud’s influencers are paid to post fake reviews like the one stated, instead of giving a honest review  upon the stated products/services. Ultimately they broke the readers’ trust with false information and ruined their own reputation.

(Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_x8259OvR3k – The consequences of astroturfing (Fake Reviews). Doctor Marketing – eMerit)

To gain credibility, influencers should have an honest representation of what they are promoting and not a distorted advertisement. Any intentional fabrication of any review could damage the company or blogger’s reputation.

Endorsement through bloggers is a great marketing method, but it should be executed ethically and professionally.

(440 WORDS)

 

REFERENCES:

http://www.wordstream.com/social-media-marketing

http://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2014/12/25/xiaxue-versus-gushcloud-turf-war-begins-again/

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/feb/08/what-is-astroturfing

https://mor10.com/code-of-ethics-for-bloggers-social-media-and-content-creators/

 

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6 thoughts on “TOPIC 4 – BUSINESS USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA: THE EXPOSED

  1. leliawkl says:

    Hello Rebecca

    You were right for the concern of social media marketing being untruthful, I myself would never want to be caught in a situation where my business is questioned with its reliability and credibility. If I were offered to write false content (fake or exaggerated reviews), I would decline the deal simply because it goes against my morals. A business with adequate confidence and faith in itself would never go along with this unethical path, in my opinion.

    However, with influencers just having honest representations is not enough; people are still doubtful of online product reviews when they know it is paid, and this behaviour may be due to the number of fake reviews existing (up to 30%). (Source: http://www.defamationremovalattorneysblog.com/2015/11/online-reviews-ten-things-you-should-know/) Thus, don’t you feel that a solution to this “astroturfing” issue is for consumers to look beyond than just these influencers and compare different websites to get more reassurance?

    Liked by 1 person

    • rebeccaljm95 says:

      Hello Lelia,

      I am glad that you share the same thoughts as well.

      I agree that online reviews by consumers are not guaranteed to be reliable as everyone has a different opinion and thank you for listing out the suggestion on comparing with different influencers. To echo what you mentioned, consumers play a part as ultimately they are the one making the decisions but comparing before deciding would be a good idea too!

      I believe another form of countermeasure would be to know if a post is sponsored to ensure its credibility. Through the incline of astroturfing cases, it is harder to determine if a review is credible or not.

      I hope my suggestion would be of help and thank you for sharing your idea with me. It enlightened me on what I could improve on for my post!

      Like

  2. strawberryraspberryblueberry says:

    Hi Rebecca,

    The whole Gushcloud saga that you’ve mentioned above was the hottest topic between my friends and me at the time! How much of the information written by these bloggers online are true? Also, though Xiaxue exposed the ugly side of Gushcloud’s management, can we fully agree with her execution method? Hiding behind a fake account with intention set out to lie, it’s hard to determine who is the ’better’ person here, as we question both parties’ credibility.

    Be it an individual or a business, I think that we should always bare in mind these 4 steps before making ethical decisions:
    1. Investigate the ethical issues
    2. Identify the primary stakeholders
    3. Increase the number of alternative courses of action
    4. Inspect the consequences of the alternatives

    How will Astroufing affect business use of social media marketing in the long run vs short run? Is there a way to deter people from carrying out such unethical methods? Would love to hear your thoughts about it.

    http://www.capsim.com/blog/ethics-online-marketing-astroturf-mousepad-desk/

    Like

    • rebeccaljm95 says:

      Hello Sherying,

      I agree that Xiaxue’s method is not the best way to derive the results despite that if this incident did not happen, we might be kept in the dark still about GushCloud and people might be still following for the false reviews .

      However, ethical decisions should still be the way to go about while avoiding trouble with the law.

      Astroturfing might get some people to believe in the product / service in the short run although on the contrary, in the long run people would tend to see the true colors of astroturfers as they start to see a complete different result compared to the reviews.

      There isn’t a way on how we can prevent this from happening as there would be too many to track down , I would sadly say it but we are unable to control one’s doing and posting of content etc but individual can avoid by comparing different reviews on the products and services or checking the source on its credibility.

      Hope this helps in answering your doubts. Thanks again!

      -Rebecca

      Like

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