Consumers are becoming increasingly intolerant towards social media marketing practices, according to a new survey. The skepticism about independent and unbiased online reviews of products and services is also growing, which puts online marketers in an uncomfortable position to question some of their most common methods.
Everyone knows what marketing is about in general – choosing target markets through analysis and understanding consumer behavior in order to deliver superior value and ultimately benefit the business. But in order to increase sales, many marketers tend to bend the truth, using bogus product reviews, fake user accounts, and so on. So, what is the role of ethics here? When does marketing step out of the boundaries? According to the results of a new survey, conducted by YouGov for the Chartered Institute for Marketing (CIM), customers today have a little confidence in the authenticity and reliability of marketing practices.
The poll, conducted among 3,000 consumers and 1,000 marketers in the UK, analyzed the general attitudes to common social media marketing techniques such as tweets about certain brands, Facebook “likes”, and so on. It found that 67 percent of consumers and only 38 percent of marketers believed hiding negative content from search engine results was unethical. The common practice of encouraging (or forcing) employees to “like” brands and products and post positive reviews and comments about them on social media websites is also misleading, according to 41 percent of consumers. In comparison, only 15 percent of marketers didn’t tolerate it.
Another common procedure is giving away free products to increase positive reviews and customer satisfaction. But more than half of the consumers consider it unethical, while 66 percent of marketers are perfectly relaxed with this. Using fake user accounts to generate more “likes”, shares and tweets is also widely used by many businesses. However, the marketers’ attitude toward bogus reviews and accounts is very poor – while for 91 percent of them, this is misleading, only 71 percent of consumers can’t accept fake positive reviews for restaurants, hotels, and so on.
Many brands and businesses are misleading their customers unintentionally via social media marketing campaigns. Some of them are not even realizing how much consumers’ concerns about the lack of honesty and authenticity can damage satisfaction and sells. In fact, making customers flee from you isn’t that hard – if the posts and reviews related to your product or business sound too good, people are becoming more reserved and skeptical to your promises.