“Social media marketing should be more focused on the social impact that it has on society rather than its marketing value. At the very least, I think there should be some social responsibility on the part of the brand and marketer when creating content labeled social media. In my opinion, SEO has fallen victim to controversial and morally questionable content that will eventually negate any value if marketers don’t start to be more vigilant.” These are the words I wrote in my very first blog back in 2011. While some things have changed since then, some things remain the same. We need to be held accountable for the things we say and do online. Here’s why. Fake News There is always going to be a bad apple in the bunch. If it is left inside the barrel, it starts to rot the entire contents. If you simply remove it, the other apples will stay fresh, longer. Finally, search engines like Google are beginning to see the light and demand high-value content. This is quite different than high-quality content. Anyone can write a few lines of content with proper grammar, not everyone can produce a high-value article that is well researched and meant to persuade, inform or entertain. It was not long ago that articles were being copied, rehashed and spun to the point of ridiculousness just to improve a brand’s ranking. Everyone knows how that turned out. Duplication and keyword stuffing became so bad, it sprung Google into action to create an algorithm to combat the damaging effects of it. While, it took some time and a few updates, it seems like they are finally on the right track with Panda. But, there is still work to be done. Fake Expertise If you can believe it, there are still “SEO marketers” using these practices. And, brands are paying a huge price for it with their brand’s integrity. Some people believe everything that they read when they think it comes from an expert or “guru” This is a good and bad thing for marketing. It creates a need for higher quality, expert and relevant content, but content writers are using this to promote themselves as experts. Just because you write about marketing, does not mean you are a marketer. And, it is really hard to spot the difference. Fake Media On most social media platforms, you will see posts appear over and over again in your timeline. The content might have been written ten years ago and is no longer valid or accurate, however, people still comment on it. For them, the content is fresh, real and accurate. Most people fail to validate or check information when it is shared by a friend or family member. This is the “social” impact that content can and does have on society. It can literally keep misinformation alive. Isn’t that reason enough for a brand to want to be socially responsible when it comes to providing information? What happens if the information leads to a huge number of deaths or some catastrophic event? Socially Responsible Content When the content posted is morally unconstitutional or abusive, it simply gets replayed over and over again, thus re-abusing. You see this a great deal when people share images of abuse. People think by sharing it they will spread the message to stop the abuse. It has the complete opposite effect. That victim is being abused over and over again. The person who first posted it is either getting a “kick” out of it or worse, getting paid from unsuspecting brands. Brands who may not know how their links and social media are being obtained. In this instance, the brand who first associated itself with this content is now part of the controversy. They can never escape the negative impact of it. Social Media is both a curse and a dream come true. A dream if the impact is desirable, not so much if it negatively affects the brand or the community. We do not have to look further than POTUS for an example. The President’s Twitter rants are creating a climate of uncertainty around the world. No one seems to know if he is telling the truth, is insane or just plain lying. Surely, he of all people should be held accountable for things he says. If we do not hold experts accountable, who can we blame when abusive actions continue? Brands need to take responsibility for the content they post. That includes POTUS. Future Outlook Social media, inbound marketing, and SEO methods change like the wind. It is even hard for the experts to stay on top of trends and keep content fresh and relevant. But, when you throw bad apples into the barrel, it can really create havoc. This the main reason why it keeps happening. What can we do to prevent it? Step up and stop the bad apples from spoiling it for everyone! Educate yourself, your brand, and your marketing team about what is offensive material Create socially responsible content and place it where it belongs. A sexually oriented blog should never be placed on a website that attracts young users. This can and does happen easily just by the keywords that a brand uses – “sexy” for example. Verify what ads and content are placed in your name. Be diligent when you see things on the Internet that you consider offensive or inappropriate. Abuse, Racism, and Discrimination generally fall into this category. You have a voice, both as an individual and as a brand, use it to help others Create positive social impact as a part of your brand’s overall mission “There is a huge misconception when it comes to things like sexting which many people may find offensive. Sexting sites and apps like WanttoSext, Kik and Snapchat are more responsible when they produce content for the mainstream. They have to be, they are held to a higher standard by Google,” says Patrick Roy, a well-known affiliate marketer and developer. Do inbound marketers need to have a sense of social responsibility when creating content? They do if they care about the future of marketing! Journalists are held accountable for what they say, content providers should be too.