How far will businesses go for free advertisement?

photo credit: SEOPlanter via photopin cc

photo credit: SEOPlanter via photopin cc

Everyone knows businesses are mainly interested in social media for the free advertisement they receive when anyone retweets/likes one of their posts.

The question is, how far are they willing to go to maximize this advertisement?

A popular avenue to drum up interest for their posts is to post humorous pictures or comments. Because who doesn’t enjoy a good laugh? But with so many Facebook and Twitter accounts, it is common that the only the inappropriate or scathing personal jokes attract interest. This naturally encourages businesses on social media to post this type of content. Even if a business was to step over the line of what we deem publicly acceptable, the negative publicity surrounding the inappropriate post is likely to just fuel the fire. People sharing the post for bad reasons still gets the business closer to its ultimate goal of free advertisement. As the saying goes, all publicity is good publicity.

Embarrassing business social media blunders

10 most embarrassing business twitter blunders

Tesco’s twitter account is famous for it’s witty responses to it’s mentions. It walks the fine line of humor and humiliation very well. 1382991_594995930547601_2105293492_nThe account is clearly well staffed and monitored because they actually respond helpfully to many genuine questions about the store. This is the way social media should be used by businesses – to the benefit of its customers. However it is evident that this fine line is very hard to walk and requires day-to-day management, which costs money. So should businesses just stick to remaining professional online and leave the jokes behind? They could solely use social media as a way to promote their new products and to respond to questions from customers. Sure it may be less entertaining, but it would be ethically sound and their reputation would remain untarnished.


Businesses that manage to walk the tightrope

Commonly we see businesses reposting pictures and videos from other accounts, without crediting the original owner. Would you call this stealing? Either way it’s not ethically correct as they are using someone else’s hard work without permission in order to benefit themselves. Technically this isn’t a problem that concerns the business. The problem is related to ownership of content online. If there is no copyright in place then who says they can’t repost it under their account without giving credit. This topic is under hot debate and can be read about in further detail here.



8 thoughts on “How far will businesses go for free advertisement?

  1. Hi Dom,

    I definitely agree that it’s difficult to gage the reaction of large groups of people, especially to a written statement, as this can easily be misconstrued by its readers. Misunderstanding text was explored in my comments section during Topic 3:

    What I would say is that I’d imagine it’s fairly easy for large companies like Tesco to predict the reactions of tweets because they have a dedicated team of people who deal with this as you said. Therefore in this sense, I would say that it’s important to push the boundaries of what we consider to be “acceptable” online, because it’s changing every day, and if we don’t change with it, we will inevitably be left behind. Then again, it is a risky business and I would not want to be in charge of the controversial Twitter accounts! Following on from this, do you think there is a better way to be creative on Twitter, especially as a business?



  2. Hi Dom,

    “Should businesses just stick to remaining professional online and leave the jokes behind?” – this is a fascinating question, and personally I’d like to take a minute to explain from personal experience why I think the jokes are exceedingly beneficial.

    Back in 2012, the Lotus F1 Team’s Twitter was without doubt one of the most active Twitters in the Formula One paddock. Aside from being one of the most interactive Twitters, they also incorporated, by far, more humour into their Tweets than other teams. It gave the team a personality, which proved invaluable in attracting fans to the low-budget team – in comparison, other teams such as McLaren and Ferrari could rely on their far greater and richer heritage to attract fans,

    Indeed, I myself was attracted to become a fan by the witty, personable, and occasionally risqué Tweeting style of the team. And yes, at points, they arguably stepped over a line, putting themselves in a bit of hot water (see or – but it was this kind of daring Tweet alongside a general sense of banter which endeared, in particular, younger fans to the team.

    The proof has come in the past two years as other Formula One teams have adopted styles of Tweeting closer and closer to that of Lotus – in particular, newly crowned world champions, Mercedes AMG.

    This concept can surely be abstracted to other types of companies (after all, that is what Formula One teams are – besides their placing in the championships, they make most of their money based on Sponsorship and Merchandise). I feel it would be foolish to neglect the impact that giving your company this sense of personality can have. Even if you assume that Social Media presence has the greatest effect on younger generations, then you have to bear in mind that these people will be the customers of the future. Whilst one surely need not tread quite the risqué depths that Lotus have, I feel that the era of cold, faceless and personality-less companies is coming to an end, and companies who fail to adapt to that could well find themselves left behind.

    I hope you find this of interest, and I am definitely intrigued to see what you think about this.



  3. Hi there

    Thank you for spending time assessing and sharing information about the problem that business in particular, people in general are facing nowadays. In my opinion, the title of this article gives reader a very precise descriptions of what you are going to write about, furthermore, scanning through your article, I could see your effort to make everything go on track. However, I’m willing to share some advice to you, with hope that you can perfect your writing path.

    I was very excited reading through your particle until I had finished reading your third paragraph. My feeling had been deceased along with the effort of trying to look for evidences or example of how businesses use humiliated info of people for advertisement. You don’t have to put up the detail, but I think providing some real life example will not harm your argument but even strengthen it.

    Continue to the fourth paragraph, your view attracted me again, by you looking at ethnicity of advertisement from another perspective. The problems are not only cause by business toward other, but also the members toward their own business. This can only happen due to the existence of one thing: free advertisement on social media. Showing quite decent amount of info and support, you have tackled this problem really well.

    I hope sharing these might be helpful to you. Good luck !

    Nam H.


  4. Hi Dom,
    I am guessing after reading your interesting blog the main ethical issue you are addressing is companies not acting professional in social media and you raise the question about staying professional. The examples of the twitter blunders is very interesting as it looks like they tweeted in an unfortunate time but I dont think it is a big of an ethical issue. It is just my personal opinion because it is funny moment but I dont think they did it deliberately due to receiving bad publicity. As you said “all publicity is good publicity” so you may have different view. However, I do agree with you about companies using other people’s property and not crediting. No matter what it is I think they should be credited and if not it is unethical even though the creator may not have specified users have to credit them.
    I have talked about integrity as an issue in social media uses by businesses and education. Please have a read if you fancy!


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