In my church’s Bible study classes it’s taught that, despite some post-modern thinking, you cannot separate doctrine from practice. It’s impossible to say you believe one thing and not have your practices reflect that.

The same applies to social media, particularly for those of us in the marketing profession. We cannot say we believe in this, that or the other thing and then practice something that’s contrary to those statements, at least not without being exposed as rank hypocrites. Likewise we cannot spend all our time talking and talking about the latest shiny objects without legitimately looking at how they’re potentially used and aligning that usage with our core beliefs.

The following is a list of statements of belief – creedal, if you like – that reflect what I think social media marketers need to keep at the top of their minds as they go about their daily practice.

  1. I believe that self-publishing is a powerful tool, one that brings with it enormous potential for influencing not only corporations but also individuals. Like all such tools it’s one to be wielded carefully, not as an outlet for personal grudges or vendettas but with the public’s interest in mind at all times.
  2. I believe that all media outlets are not created equally. Different types may be important for different reasons, but there are most certainly tiers of influence and importance.
  3. I believe that despite those differences all media should be treated with respect and dealt with in ways that don’t try to redraw existing ethical lines simply because of the type of media outlet, be it a large news organization or an individual blog.
  4. I believe that goals are the by-product of communication between the marketing professional and other stakeholders and cannot be derived from thin air nor from flamboyant media stories about the companies behind the tools we use.
  5. I believe that all client communications should contain value in the form of insights into what a tool is, how it’s going to be used in their program, what the existing best practices thinking is and how it will be measured – including perspective on what those numbers mean compared to other executions. As the people on the front lines it’s our responsibility to give reports that allow decisions to be made based on the best information available.
  6. I believe that it is a primary responsibility of the social media marketer to say “No” to someone – anyone – who asks them to cross an ethical line, including a full explanation of why that line won’t be crossed.
  7. I believe that it’s not enough to be well-versed on social media tools based on personal usage but also to know how, where and when they’re best used for corporate usage, especially if advising companies is what I intend to do.
  8. I believe that unless I can add something positive to the conversation that it’s irresponsible of me to bash a company or another marketer for “not getting it.”
  9. I believe that writing about a company or brand simply to see if they will notice and respond to it – especially when there is not actual issue to be discussed – is an irresponsible use of self-publishing as it diverts resources of that company that could better be used elsewhere.
  10. I believe that an employer is precisely within their rights for firing people who violate their guidelines for social media usage.
  11. I believe that whatever I might think, it’s within every company’s rights to set their own guidelines for social media usage by employees, guidelines that are going to differ by circumstance and business model. My blog is a fine place to offer thoughts on those but those thoughts should take into account what those special considerations for industry and business model are.
  12. I believe that social media is measurable, but only if I know what I’m talking about.
  13. I believe that social media can be a stand-alone effort it can also be a component of a larger campaign that incorporates traditional media platforms and that being asked to work with an advertising or other agency is not a form of punishment against me.
  14. I believe that how and when to talk about client or employer efforts on my own blog is a decision that’s up to me and dependent on what I’m comfortable with.
  15. I believe that it’s unethical to ask someone to step outside their comfort zone when it comes to discussing client work on their personal blogs.

These are points we cannot simply give lip service to and profess our adherence to if we’re not also using them as the guideposts for our actions. If a client, manager or anyone else asks us to engage in practices outside of these it’s our responsibility to educate them and try to bring them back to the true faith.

Have any that you’d like to add?