With people spending so much time on social media, it makes sense that activists, nonprofits, and socially conscious businesses get involved as well.
According to 2020 statistics, the average person spends over six years of their life using social media. This is the third highest time allotment after watching tv (over eight years) and sleeping (over 26 years!). And our time spent on social media is expected to grow as the decade continues.
However, we are all aware of the moral problems that come with social media and the big tech companies owners.
As socially conscious people and businesses, we seem to turn a blind eye to this and focus on the positive change we can create. But after the Facebook outage and the latest whistleblower report on the company, our team at Social for Good knew that it was beyond time to address it.
We hope that this post will encourage other businesses within the same space to also speak on this issue. We know as a social impact digital marketing agency that it was time for us to stand back and take a deeper look at the system we play a part in.
Remaining Ethical in an Unethical Space
The unavoidable truth of the matter is that tech platforms such as Facebook (Instagram, Reddit, Twitter, etc.) breed unethical practices and promote harmful rhetoric. The statistical evidence is out there and goes so far beyond the recent whistleblower case named previously.
But it’s also true that in the 21st century you must take part in social media to run a successful business, spread the word about revolutionary movements, and teach people ethical practices in business and in life.
Our modern societal structure has made it nearly impossible for the average person not to engage on at least one platform. But for businesses, nonprofits, and activists, engaging on social media is integral to success. That’s why businesses such as ours exist. We help brands reach the right audiences and grow their business through digital marketing, and part of that entails consistent social media usage.
Although our team specifically works with businesses and entrepreneurs that we know are acting in the greater good of their audiences, how do we reconcile that we are ultimately participating in a wider negative online culture and system?
Unfortunately, this isn’t an easy question to answer, by our team or anyone.
But we do think there are steps we can take to maintain our personal ethics within a wider platform that contains unethical elements.
1. Be Honest
The first step that a socially conscious person or business can take is to be honest about the situation and the part they’re playing in the issue. No matter what your personal stance is, it’s time for socially responsible brands to own the fact that they participate in platforms that can be morally unethical.
By being honest about the situation and not downplaying or ignoring it, we maintain our personal ethics while also ensuring our audience, clients, or customers that we understand and appreciate their concerns.
2. Understand the Problem
Being informed about the situation and any recent events relating to how social media affects our society is key. We must stay informed to be honest and understanding with our audience.
How can an audience trust the values of a socially conscious business if they’re completely unaware of the problems that come with social media usage and don’t understand or comment on the overarching issue?
As with any organization, movement, or platform that your business associates with you should have a deep understanding of the history, message, and potential effects (negative and positive) of whatever you’re putting your support behind.
In the end, it doesn’t matter if you weren’t aware of a potential problem. What’s going to matter to your clients and your audience is that you supported it without really understanding the implications.
3. Make an Effort for Change
As brands that support and believe in the greater good, it’s important that we make a conscious effort to positively change the system and not simply accept it for what it is.
Acknowledging our part is the first step to changing the system (social media in this case, but it’s the same with any systemic issue). After that it’s essential to use your brand accounts ethically and only support other ethical organizations or brands.
We can use our platforms to do more than sell a product or service. We can use them to promote positive movements and engage with other brands and accounts that are doing the same. Even as a business, the way we engage on social media influences others and the companies that own the platforms.
And maybe it’s time we start considering the unthinkable: not using a platform that actively harms people and does nothing to remedy it. In the same way that money has power, so does time. If people and brands no longer spend time on a platform, they’ll either be forced to change or no longer exist. (Just some food for thought, us included! We won’t be leaving social media anytime soon!).
Our team hopes that this post will start a greater dialogue within our niche concerning the ethical dilemma of social media. Even though there is no simple solution, we believe that as a socially conscious business it’s time we acknowledge our part in the broader issue and begin an honest dialogue on how we can impact positive change.
We encourage you and your team to take a step back, evaluate your part in the issue, and create a plan that encourages ethical digital engagement. Our team will do the same.
If you need assistance or advice on how to plan an ethical social media strategy, our team is here to help. Feel free to contact us to book a consultation.