The topic of the week is about social media monitoring and is it ethical?

As a Public Relations student we often discuss ethical situations.

Right around a year ago, I was sitting in my introduction to PR class when I first heard about a YouTube video that 2 Dominos Pizza employees had made. If you didn’t see it the video below will give you a glimpse.

Situations like this are why, according to Michelle Webber, “it’s no wonder why employers are monitoring social networking sites and sacking workers for posting potentially threatening material to protect their company’s reputation.”

I was first warned at my freshman orientation to be careful about what I put out on the web, particularly on Facebook. This was during the end of the MySpace era and the beginning of the Facebook revolution. At this point, Facebook was still exclusive to college students and was strictly enforced (you needed a valid university e-mail to create an account). Even then, we were warned that the police and future employers could see your pictures and conversations.

I still hear stories of people who have to give their username and passwords to employers so they can see what they say both, publicly and privatly. Our society is growing more connected everyday. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and blogs give people from all over the world an opportunity to communicate and create a relationship. The conversations people have can be a topic of interest for companies, especially when their company or competitor is the subject of that conversation.

PR people are not only listening but engaged in these conversations. For the first time companies can personally respond to consumers on via social media.

The Dominos employee Youtube video had hit various social medias so, they responded to consumers through those outlets. This allowed them to respond to particular people’s concern on the outlet it was expressed. Also, they were able to thank loyal consumers who were showing their support despite the incident. In my opinion, the relationships and conversations that started on various social medias have helped the Dominos organization become aware of their downfalls. Since their YouTube incident they have created a consumer driven campaign dedicated to creating a product consumers want. They have listened to their customers concerns and suggestions with one topic after another. They have changed in my eyes as a company so, I gave them a try for the first time in years. Must say, it was awesome!

The Dominos PR campaign was successful because they listened to what the consumers want. Image consulting in PR is about giving the public what they want and not just what they want to hear.

Steve Rubel says, “Micro Persuasion, my blog, is a microcosm. It has over 50,00 subscribers, 5,000 pages of content and a Google Page Rank of seven. Let’s say that I were to to start blogging about a negative experience I had with a company that competes with one of my clients. This could influence their search results negatively and in the process seem to elevate my client. This would be highly unethical. Subtleties like this one are becoming the norm.”

Value people’s opinions and never forget the importance of listening to your audience.

Social Media Code of Ethics” can serve as a guideline for companies interacting with consumers.

  1. RESPECT: We respect our users and their opinions and pay attention to a respectful exposure to players among themselves.
  2. OBJECTIVITY: We welcome relevant content and objective criticism.
  3. ACCESSIBILITY: We respond quickly and appropriately to direct questions, suggestions and criticism.
  4. CREDIBILITY: We stand with our public statements and opinions in all conscience for transparency and credibility.
  5. HONESTY: We deal with errors openly and do not conceal them.
  6. LEGAL: We respect the rights of our users as well as the rights of uninvolved third parties, in particular copyrights, privacy rights and data protection.

From a student PR perspective, I see social media monitoring as a good thing. A successful company will be able to continuously maintain a happy customer. Social media monitoring can help companies find their faults and strengths in the eyes of the consumer which can lead to a lifelong relationship.