A few days ago I recieved a very spammy looking message from twitter user Liquid 4 Health (I’m not going to link to them based on principle). I like to give people the benefit of the doubt so I thought I should check out their profile and see if maybe they were just a little misguided.

Turns out I was right. They are a spam account and they just keep pushing out the same messages over and over and over with no interaction at all. The biggest shocker of all is when I saw that they had blatantly ripped off the Mozy logo (linked because they are the good guys here). Exhibit A – Logo of our beloved Mozy

Exhibit B – Logo of the spamming Liquid4Health

Before I get into the heart of this post  I’m going to finish the back story, so bear with me.

I have to express complete awe at them thought they could get away with something like this. Now of course being the concerned citizen I am I reported them as spam, and also alerted Mozy of the affront via Twitter.

This type of blatant ripping off is just not acceptable in any way, but what I didn’t expect was what followed from the local (and even out of state) community at large. There was a miniature cavalcade of outrage about the blatant rip off that continued with random RT’s and such for the next hour or so, but here’s a good snap shot of the immediate outcry.

As my good friend JdNorton pointed out on the site when you land is a claim to ethics and where we get into the meat of this post.

Now, you would think that a company so concerned with ethics that it’s part of their landing flash animation wouldn’t be ripping off the logos of well known companies. They would be using their own logos and promoting their product in a much more altruistic manner.

The good news is that they didn’t. The bad news is that someone who bought into their MLM did, and now their image is being tarnished because of one particular unscrupulous MLMer.

How does this relate to anything else? Well in your company you probably have people who represent the company in many ways. If they’re tied directly to the company and it states that in their Twitter or other social media profile then everything they do will be tied to the company as well.

This is a VERY real fear of companies and individuals alike. Recently I had the opportunity to speak with a representative of the local government and this was the #1 concern brought up when dealing with social media and it’s application for spreading a message.

That is why you need to have a stance on how to ethicly do business. Once you do it’s your responsibility to monitor your MLM “partners”, Franchisee’s, employees, etc. You need to be aware of how they’re representing themselves because it all leads back to you and your business. This is yet another good argument for having a social media department in your business, practice, agency, etc.

Social media management aside, ethics is something that should be taken far more serious than it is. It isn’t a marketing buzz word, it’s a core value that you should embrace. Not just because if you don’t that “buzz word” will be a huge target for your critics, but because it’s the right thing to do.

This isn’t meant to scare anyone away from social media, it’s meant to be a warning. A reminder that you need to have policies in place, and decide on the best way to display your company online. Don’t play fast and loose with your reputation and how your business and the members of it carry themselves or the ethics you uphold.

It all adds up, and can very quickly come back to haunt you.

Thanks for reading,
Josh “Shua” Peters

p.s. We’re still giving away free copies of Twittfaced, if you want to see how you can get your mitts on a copy go here: 4 ways to win a free copy of TwittFaced!