How often do we think before we share anything online?
There are so many ethical issues pertaining to social media. Many of which comes from the ignorance of people utilising social media – us. This means we are vulnerable in exposing ourselves when we leave behind our digital footprint.
Hence, the most impactful ethical issue to me is the issue of misrepresentation. This can come in different forms. You can either misrepresent yourself with what you post online or how brands utilise social media to promote their products. I believe the first links to Topic 2 on having one or multiple online identities. Hence, I would like to address issue on the latter: misrepresentation of products/services via Bloggers.
Time has changed and “brands should turn to Bloggers instead of Celebrity Spokesperson” when promoting their products as they are “much less expensive than a traditional celebrity spokesperson, with day rates that run between $5K – $20K (or even much less, depending on the blogger’s experience and visibility) (Danielle Wiley,2014).
As you can see, Blogs (31.1%) are among the top 3 online services most likely to influence your purchase and “60% of marketers say blog content creation is their top inbound marketing priority.”(HubSpot, 2016)
Screenshot via marketingland.com
Question is, how many of you do actually read blog reviews before purchasing? Here is an infographic to show the growing influence of blogs on buying behaviour:
Source via Corporate-eye.com
An example of misrepresentation of the services provided is an advertorial for Slim Couture. This brand engaged bloggers like Yan Kay Kay and Xiaxue to promote services offered. However, the brand misrepresent the services provided by asking Yan Kay Kay to post photoshopped photos of the bruises she get after undergoing the treatment. Refer below for reasons:
Screenshot taken from Yan Kay Kay Blog
By doing so, the brand is not being transparent on showing what effects potential users will encounter after undergoing the treatment which leads to not only misrepresenting itself but it may also decrease the credibility of the Blogger. How can we then trust bloggers for their reviews?
Personally, I believe it is unfair for digital ‘Visitors’ to be misrepresented with information on the type of product/service a particular brand promises via bloggers. As much as we would like honest reviews from bloggers, I believe it is still up to us to do our own research be it online or offline before making any purchase. Or better yet have blogger like Xiaxue, in this case, to forgo advertising it altogether.
Screenshots taken via Mumbrella
(Danielle Wiley,2014) Available on: http://marketingland.com/brands-turn-bloggers-instead-celebrity-spokespeople-75971 (Accessed on 11 November 2016)
(HubSpot, 2016) Available on: http://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics (Accessed on 11 November 2016)
(Susan Gunelius,2014) Available on: http://www.corporate-eye.com/main/the-influence-of-blogs-on-purchase-decisions/ (Accessed on 11 November 2016)
(Mumbrella,2014) Available on: http://www.mumbrella.asia/2014/08/singapore-slimming-brand-threatens-legal-action-nuffnang-negative-xiaxue-post/ (Accessed on 11 November 2016)