Business Ethics: Endorsements are a Treacherous Path.

“Social-media-ad spending is expected to reach a total of $4.8 billion at the end of 2012 and $9.8 billion by 2016”. Bloomberg

The use of social media by companies to market their brand is one of the most successful ways to receive maximum publicity with a minimal budget. No matter what the business, people want to be in the know and that involves knowing what others think. However, the ethics surrounding online reviews and endorsements can be a grey area. This post is limited to two examples: paying for coverage on YouTube and celebrity endorsements on Twitter. However, the general ethical guidelines apply to all areas of social media reviews/endorsements.

In a recent interview Kelly McBride, the author of The New Ethics of Journalism, discussed the complex ethics surrounding paid endorsements on YouTube. She also discussed the value of transparency and credibility – a business lacking transparency is at risk of losing credibility (similar theme to Topic 3). However, these values do not simply apply to YouTube but to all reviews on social media. As such, the motives behind a product endorsement must be clear, as they will undoubtedly influence how the reader judges the information provided (Rose, 2014). Vloggers in particular often come under fire for breach of ethical codes. A recent article describes an incident whereby Vloggers were said to have broken the law after participating in a sponsored campaign promoting Oreo biscuits.

From previous blog topics, it is clear that legally monitoring social media can be difficult. However, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is an independent agency of the U.S. government that fights for the protection of consumers. They have introduced standards to ensure that if an advertiser or a marketer is paying someone to write favourable reviews, they should clearly disclose this information to the viewer (FTC, 2013).

Blog 5 1The same principles apply to celebrities who endorse products on Twitter. The FTC explains that if a celebrity fails to use the #ad or #spon, both the advertiser and endorser may be liable. The Advertising Standards Authority UK has similar guidelines (Gibson, 2014). However, despite these authorities’ guidelines, social media will always be difficult to regulate due to the various ‘grey areas’ surrounding online marketing (Varney, 2013).

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This great Slideshare, discusses the laws regarding social media marketing and provides examples of endorsements conducted in the right and wrong manner.

It’s clear that often viewers are unaware of the nature of endorsements and reviews. If viewers are informed, they may carry out different actions. Nonetheless, it must be noted that this is an exceptionally broad topic with many interesting view points.

FTC (2013) .com Disclosures: How to Make Effective Disclosures in Digital Advertising, Federal Trade Commission.

Gibson, W. (2014) Celebrity spokespersons and the federal trade commission, Social Media Explorer.

Rose, M. (2014) Pay for Play: The ethics of paying for YouTuber coverage, Gamasutra.

Varney, C.  (2013) Celebrity Twitter Ads: Regulations, Allegations and Selling Out, Brandwatch.


Topic 3 – Reflecting on creating a brand.

There are a wealth of resources out there on the do’s and don’ts of creating an online professional profile. The tricky bit is making sure that you maintain authenticity when managing or creating these profiles. The discussion surrounding authenticity is what made this week’s topic so diverse, with blogs like Namat’s and Irinie’s offering interesting points on how to be authentic, while others not referring to it at all. A lot of the discussion I was involved in questioned the authenticity of both the employer and the candidate’s use of social media during the recruitment process. Other discussions, focused on the relationship between authenticity and how long the profile had been active.

Through reading other blog posts and their associated comments, I discovered that online profiles are not for everyone. Some people, like May, find that their profile propels them into the working world, while others, like Hayley, find it difficult to maintain a professional profile. Nonetheless, there seems to be a surge in employers using social media, yet this may be limited to specific industries.

Discussing the topic with recruiters from ‘Dorset Health Care’ and ‘Honeywell Engineering’, it appears that they believe it is more appropriate and efficient to assess a candidate’s skills during an interview. Interestingly, the recruiter from ‘Honeywell Engineering’ suggested that though he doesn’t believe in using social media to vet candidates, even if he did, his digital illiteracy prevents him from ‘social snooping’.

I have learnt that having an online profile can be a helpful resource in my future job hunt. Professional online profiles have numerous advantages, they act as a platform for individuals who cannot display their breadth of skills on a traditional CV as well as displaying personality, which might otherwise be lost on a CV, thus allowing individuals to promote their own personal brand. However, this topic has also highlighted the undesirable aspects of professional profiles and the amount of work it takes to maintain an authentic profile.


Namat’s blog

Hayley’s blog

Topic 3: May the tweets be ever in your favour.

Thought the job market was tough in 2014? In 2015 69% of recruiters expect job competition to increase. With the competition increasing, there is no time like the present to focus on creating a professional online profile. Recruiters are now looking further than your CV to identify talented candidates. A 2014 Jobvite survey indicates that 73% of employers plan to increase investment in social networking recruitment.

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How do you create an online profile that benefits your future employment? The most popular first step is to develop a LinkedIn profile, with 347 million members in over 200 countries it’s a great starting point (LinkedIn, 2014). However, it’s not the only online program and an effective profile should make use of multiple platforms- Facebook and Twitter also play a major role in recruitment. However, these social media sites are now being used to screen applicants, so it’s important to have control of your social networking profiles. David Timis has a great video which shows you how to establish your online profile, and how to use the important networking tools available on LinkedIn.

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You need to use the web to create a brand that makes you stand out. Blogging is a great way to do this and shows, in a professional context, what is important to you. Blogging gives you the ability to demonstrate passion, dedication, motivation as well as creativity (The Employable, 2014). A Google or About.Me profile with links to all your online platforms, allows individuals to connect to you efficiently. Maintenance is key, if you have a common name or find that your visibility on Google is poor, the ‘Vizability’ site could help. It’s important to be active on sites such as Google+ and LinkedIn, as they rank highly on Google searches (Snowden, 2011). The video below provides a great summary of online presences and highlights the importance of constantly changing and adapting your profiles.

Nonetheless, it’s important to be authentic, consistent and effective when creating your profiles. You need to create a profile that directs people to content you want them to see, ideally content which is a true reflection of you and your achievements (Chamorro-Premuzic, 2013). Remember that a bad profile can harm your job prospects or even cause you to lose your current job, as these employees learnt.

Remember, when choosing platforms to develop your professional profile, always consider the sector you’re applying to, for example the fashion and photography industries use Pinterest and Instagram as platforms to display their skills (Donnelly, 2014).

Chamorro-Premuzic, T. (2013) The Future of You, Harvard Business Review Blog. Accessed: 05/03/2015

Donnelly, D. (2014) Building your professional online profile, Inspiring Interns Blog. Accessed: 06/03/2015

Eaton, K (2009) If you’re applying for a job, censor your Facebook page, Fast Company. Accessed: 05/03/2015

Jobvite (2014) Social Recruiting Survey.

LinkedIn (2014) About LinkedIn. Accessed: 06/03/2015

Snowden, G. (2011) The Rules of Social Recruiting, The Guardian Online. Accessed: 06/03/2015

The Employable (2014) How blogging can help you get a job. Accessed: 05/03/2015