Tweak Your Biz

Home » Marketing » Online Ethics #Fails

Online Ethics #Fails

The internet is a beautiful place for businesses, yet many users risk spoiling it because they fail to understand online ethics. With the EU/ACTA quickening the pace to clamp down online privacy, sharing and freedom of expression; these actions are now under the spotlight.

I have a question – would you walk into someone’s house and add your collection of family photos to their mantlepieces and sideboards?

No. Of course you wouldn’t. After all it’s their home for them to furnish with their own items. So why is it ok to ‘furnish’ someone else’s Facebook page with your items?

When it comes to the internet (and Facebook), it seems a growing number of businesses are happy to self-advertise on other business pages. To analyse the extend of this practice, I asked a  selection of business owners if this is something they do and if they feel it is ok.

Here are the responses:

  • “I hate when people do that tina. I had a big argument with someone about it last week, when they posted on my wall after I signed up for their website. I would never advertise my business on anyone elses page ever.
  • “I know some people don’t mind but in general I think that businesses object to it.  I regularly advertise other businesses on my page that I know or have used, but don’t want them to come on an advertise themselves without asking first. In general I will delete the post and ban the business. That might sound harsh, but that’s how I feel.”
  • “If I were to post an ‘advertisement’ on someone’s page who isn’t connected to me, and that you were doing it to draw their attention to my work because you happened to like a piece – I think that kind of advertising/recommendation would be acceptable, because it is specific to the person you intended it for even though others would see it.”
  • “Not unless it was agreed with the other page owner first.”
  • “I think it would be unacceptable if I were to post on someone’s page if I’m not connected to them. I think it would be discourteous and totally unacceptable to do it that way.”
  • “I dont like doing it deliberatly, like just posting a link to another page and no interaction with the other business. However if there is interaction with the other page owner(even though you know people are only doing it to advertise themselves) I don’t mind that.”
  • “We’ve promoted it on our page but my fault I’m a bit of a dinosaur when it comes to FB – its a bit hit & miss especially dreading the new format too!”
  • “I think it would irritate the other person if you just landed a post on their wall without asking first. Unless you have a dependent relationship whereby you get on like beans and toast e.g. youTube advertises for iTunes. Music is then just a click away. That kind of posting on another person’s page is acceptable, the beans on toast kind!”
  • “To be honest I would not do that. I feel it’s a real sneaky way to advertise your own business. I know people can figure out that’s exactly what you were trying to do.”
  • “I had to have a think about this because initially I would say no. But, I’ve done it. It depends on how it’s done really. I do it by connecting with the page so to speak, by having a similar audience and common interests. I think we should both get something out of a post so maybe some of my ‘people’ will like their page and vice versa.”

Mixed Views

As you can see, the views are mixed. Responses range from outrage to acceptance,  to a lack of knowledge of what they’re doing, to doing it themselves.

The ethics of conducting business online are subjective – that’s a certainty. Low barriers mean easy access. Now, I believe that many of the businesses who gave me the responses above, truely feel that their decisions are justified and that there is value to both parties when self advertising. In the eyes of Facebook for example – this is deemed to be spamming (excellent post by Amanda Webb on Facebook postings policies and spamming, worth a read here).

The real question is – is this considered a social norm and should we just accept it if we don’t share their views? Should we be helping those conducting business online to analyse their behaviour and promote a more ethical experience?

As you pause to answer the questions above, you might like to read these.

More Online Ethics #fails:

  • Constantly clicking a sponsered advert (Google / Facebook) to use up a competitor’s budget and (with the result of no sales).
  • Competitors following other competitor feeds with a view to ‘under-cutting’ them or copying their updates and blog post ideas.
  • Employees writing positive reviews and comments on blogs and review websites  just because they are employees.
  • Uploading videos and naming them something completely different (this has been known to happen with children’s cartoons actually being adult videos).

Are these acceptable? What are your thought on self-advertising on other business pages? Are you ethical online?

Image: “Three colorful arrow signs reading Right, Wrong and It Depends/Shutterstock

Christina is a complete geek, hence a perfect web + online marketing consultant. After ten years working with Premier Recruitment Group, LA Fitness, Monarch Airlines, Thomson Travel and a host of other companies, she now owns CG Online Marketing ( in Ireland and is an associate of the Ahain Group. She's qualified in most things online such as web server management, digital design, Google Analytics and SEO. Specialties: Social Media Marketing, SEO / PPC,Google analytics (qualified in GA IQ) Web trends + insights, Data segmentation and targeting, Customer Behavior analysis, Digital design, Writing, Ethical marketing Green marketing / Sustainable tourism and Hotel + travel online marketing

Similar Articles
  • Hi Christina, Self advertising on Facebook is just another word for spamming.Even if the page owner allows you to post/self-advertise, it’s not getting out to the fans of the particular page so not only is it ethically bad, it’s also not effective. In other words, It’s a waste of time. 

  •  It’s true Niall, it’s an ineffective means of advertising that can impact negativily on your reputation. Such a pity to see so many businesses adopting bad practices….but hopefully a little extra knowledge and advise will set them on the right track.

    Thanks for commenting.

  • I don’t agree with promoting yourself or your business on another person’s FB wall. Why not contribute to the conversation by adding something rational to the discussion. If people want to find out more about you, then they can click through to your FB page and learn. Same with commenting on blogs – add to the conversation. Don’t just self-promote.

    I get it why people want to self-promote. It is the easy way out. One and done. No effort. But with no effort comes no reward.

  • I’m still constantly amazed by how poorly most businesses execute their social media efforts. At first I thought it was ignorance and a lack of understanding about the unwritten etiquette but now I believe its more fundamental than that. Most people/businesses starting out on the digital marketing path, think that social media marketing is about setting up social networking accounts. 

    The businesses learn that you can post as your page, so they start running around Facebook like their asses are on fire, shouting “over here look at me – my biz is great!” 

    What a lot of businesses don’t seem to understand is that spammy, interruption marketing doesn’t work on social platforms. Social Media Marketing is about conversation and giving before you get.

    Great post Christina – hopefully you’ll steer some lost sheep back to the flock with your insights. 😉

  •  Hi Marshall,

    I like your last line ‘with no effort comes no reward’. It’s difficult appealing to business owners that this is the case, as they see this as easy to do.

    I agree that they should be contributing more (although some people only contribute on blogs in their industry for SEO and to add a link). When you make an impactful comment, people take notice and respect you. There is little respect in self-promotion.

  •  Hey Neil,

    For a minority, it is a bit of ignorance…for others they just feel they can get away with it. What they fail to understand is that people will know and people will judge and people will dislike a great deal.

    It may also be an element of desperation. Businesses are under pressure to sell and the owner can easily advertise this way for free. I’ve spoken with many business owners who just want to be ‘doing’ something…..
    ‘Sure, I can’t just sit on my hands and watch the world go by’ I get a lot….
    No, you can’t, but you can produce better results, retain your reputation AND see a higher ROI if you are willing to let someone who understands these platforms, do the job.’

    If I did my own tax + accounts, No.1 the paperwork would be posted back pretty promptly, no 2, I’d be paying more and no.3 I have to spend my time consulting and marketing. It just makes sense to outsource. BUT, if this isn’t an option, then I’d learn all the ‘tricks’. We all have choices (Got choice on the brain after watching the Merovingian in Matrix Reloaded Sat night).

    Come on sheep, you don’t wanna jump off that cliff-edge, you won’t make it back!


  • With the majority too @2cc65a0762dfe73e0476abeb1c3f38c4:disqus No. 2

  • Sian, # 2 is very good, # 3 rocks. Can do right by each. I think the article does well to help explain the benefits of TYB and Biz Sugar. Well done.

  • Sian, they are all lovely. But I’m rowing in behind everyone else and i think no. 2 is fab.

    Take care,

  • Paul O’Mahony (Cork)

    Great to be invited to offer a view… lovely way to draw others in. No 3 is most like the person I’ve met.

  • Number 2 is also my pick Sian as you seem more relaxed and that shows in your smile.

  • ElliStGeorgeGodfrey

    Number 2 caught my eye as I scrolled down so that’s my vote!

  • My first choice is number 2 but if not number 3 🙂

  • Martin Lindeskog

    You will be number 1 with picture #2! All three pics are good looking! 🙂 If I have to pick, number 2! 😉

  • Thanks Anton, I hoped that those that did not get the HHG references could still understand the post.

  • Thank you Elish, always looking to make things a bit more interesting, we see a lot of blogs on the topic and while they are nearly all correct in their point and subject matter, they can become repetitive and I am as guilty as anyone on that issue.

    Poor old Douglas Adams may not be to please but hey-ho it was interesting to write.


  • Zach Harmon

    # 2 for sure!!

  • V

    I like photo Sian No. 3 – you are looking at us intently, with a friendly smile and it feels like you are ready to listen 🙂

  • Sian Phillips

    Well folks, it seems the consensus is no.2. I’d better start changing my picture across all the sites then. Hope I don’t forget any 🙂

  • Prefer 1. Simple, diplomatic, friendly and professional/

  • Thank Niall. I think I wrote this partly out of frustration! It really is of such pivotal importance – especially now when we all know that good relationships are key to getting customers and creating sustainability. We have unprecedented access to relationship-building tools these days, yet the real foundations of those relationships are still being ignored and misunderstood.

  • Thank you for reading, Jena. I’m glad you like the article!

  • Thanks
    for a great list Maricel! I agree that there is no silver bullet tool and everything
    depends upon your needs and a project type.

  • That is so true, Nick. A full-blown project management software isn’t always the answer, particularly for not-too-complicated projects. You may actually be paying for features you don’t even need.

  • Thanks and you’re welcome Elaine – I’m always on the look out for great posts to share each week. I agree – I’m seeing a lot more posts about video and visual content

  • I am writing a book on tea, so this post is of great interest: Could Writing A Book Boost Your Personal Brand?

  • Thanks Maketta. I do them twice weekly on a Tuesday and Friday so please do check back for them

  • You’re welcome Nikhil. I’m always on the look out for good posts to add to the bi-weekly round ups 🙂

  • Thanks for including my Moz article, Sian!

  • You’re welcome Ann. Did you know you’re a #TYBInfluencer too?

  • Wow. I didn’t! where did I become one? 🙂

  • It’s just a recent thing we’ve brought in to celebrate our writers whose articles have reached more than 100,000 people – see the badge at the bottom of my post above? Your next post will have that too 🙂

  • wow! exciting!!!

Featured Author
© Copyright 2009-2018, Bloggertone LLC. All rights reserved.