Victoria’s Secret – A brand in which I trust

Picture 1It takes a lot to earn my trust “in real life,” and even longer to gain my trust online. I interact with more individuals than brands on social media because many brands don’t know how to do social media right. I don’t want to follow a brand that constantly tries to sell on social media, and it’s obvious when a brand is posting scheduled, automated messages. I want to connect with the people behind the brand. If a brand engages with me, it goes a long way in earning my trust, and ultimately turning me into a brand advocate. One brand that has done that for me, is Victoria’s Secret.

Victoria’s Secret is constantly posting and keeping their social media pages up-to-date, which demonstrates their authority in beauty, lingerie, swimwear, and fashion for women. The brand’s massive amount of followers on each of their social media pages also proves their authority in the industry. Why wouldn’t I trust a brand that the majority of my friends like or follow on social media?

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When customers complain on the various Victoria’s Secret’s social platforms, the brand addresses their complaints in a timely fashion. This transparency is helpful, shows a human side to the brand, and it proves that the brand actually cares about their customers.

Recently, a customer wrote that he bought a gift for his wife, and they forgot to take the security tag off (right). When he went back to the store, the manager told him he had to wait in a long line to have the tag taken off. I’m sure with the amount of social media followers Victoria’s Secret has, they could have easily ignored this customer an it wouldn’t have been noticed. Instead, the brand apologized to the customer and asked him to send a private message with the stores location so they could properly address the problem.

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While I appreciate Victoria’s Secret’s responses to complaints, what really sets the brand apart for me is their engagement with consumers. It’s amazing to see how many customers they have conversations with on Twitter (right). This proves that the brand cares more about the customer and their experience, than making a sale. The feeling of having an actual two-way relationship with Victoria’s Secret on social media helps me to trust the brand even more.

You may question why brand trust is so important. Because I trust and feel as though I have a relationship with Victoria’s Secret, I’m more likely to tune into what they’re posting on social sites. This is critical because customers are so inundated with advertising clutter. Also because the brand has earned my trust, I’m more likely to engage and share what they’re posting on social media. Their social media behavior has turned me into a brand advocate and free advertising is rarely a bad thing! Lastly (and what some would say is most important), because I trust the brand, when I’m in the market for a swimsuit, underwear, or perfume, they’re the brand that I will turn to. Victoria’s Secret’s products and social media always keep me coming back for more!

Earning trust on social media

Social media trustIf your brand isn’t building and establishing trust on social media, you’re likely losing a lot of current and potential clients and customers. When I was searching for an image to accompany this post, I ran across a saying that caught my eye: “Trust. Takes years to build, seconds to break and forever to repair.” While I believe that you can earn trust a little bit sooner than the saying suggests, its message about the fragility and importance of trust is on point. I believe if you earn a client or customer’s trust, you have created a brand advocate. (Bonus: free advertisers!)

Several ways that a brand or individual can earn trust on social media is not sending spam, not promoting oneself, attributing others when you use their content, and in general be attentive, engaging, and conversational. Steve Rayson has created his own formula for trust:

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Rayson’s formula is an accurate depiction of qualities that make up trust, but I believe it can be simplified by the three H’s: honesty, helpfulness, and humanness. If a company is consistently providing content that is helpful, and they’re responding to comments honestly and in a human tone, I’m more likely to follow them on social media, share their content, and make purchases from them in the future. No one wants to share content that’s not helpful in some way, and no one wants to engage with a company that’s not honest or posting automated responses. We don’t want to talk to a robot, we want to feel like we’re being heard.

Northern Rail is a great example of a company that has earned trust with their followers. Their responses to customer complaints are both honest and helpful. Not only do they earn trust by responding to the complaints, they earn trust by responding to the praises as well. By engaging in real conversations with happy customers, they’re showing their human side. More companies should follow Northern Rail’s example.

LinkedIn’s Terms and Conditions

linkedin-android-walks_0Social media terms and conditions is a subject area that is a little dry, so when asked to assess a network’s user agreement, I wasn’t sure which network to choose. In the hopes of being somewhat original, I focused my attention on LinkedIn. I can’t argue LinkedIn’s value, but much like terms and conditions, it’s not the most exciting social network. I was pleasantly surprised when I went to LinkedIn’s User Agreement page. I’m not saying that I’ll go to the page for pleasure reading, but after looking at Facebook and Twitter’s user agreements, I think LinkedIn may have the advantage.

Like Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn’s User Agreement is long and contains a lot of jargon. There’s really no way around it if they want to protect themselves. Unlike the other two networks, LinkedIn breaks down each section of the User Agreement into concise, easy to understand segments (below). Not only does this help ensure that users are reading the terms that they’re agreeing to, the organization and breakdown helps users to actually understand what they’re agreeing to, which is an ethical win for LinkedIn. No user can claim that they couldn’t make sense of the terms and conditions.

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Another great aspect of LinkedIn’s User Agreement is that there is a breakdown of what user responsibilities are, and then a section about what the company’s rights and obligations are to the users. On Facebook, the majority of responsibility is placed on the user. It’s nice that LinkedIn acknowledges that they have some accountability in the equation. This section also provides the network some security because if someone comes to the network with a complaint or problem, they can point to the User Agreement and show that they were up front about both the user’s and company’s obligations.

You hear about the implications of unethical behaviors on the “more social” social networks all the time. False representation or catfishing, has effected celebrities and professional athletes, and now there’s even a show dedicated to the unethical practice on MTV. As inconvenient as it may be to discover that someone else is using your photos or falsely representing you on Facebook or Twitter, can you imagine the negative implications of being falsely represented on LinkedIn? This is the network that is viewed as professional, so a fake profile could really ruin your career and your life.

While LinkedIn can’t force anyone to be an ethical person, the company’s User Agreement does take the necessary steps to protect users and the company itself. When LinkedIn users sign the User Agreement they agree that, “You promise to only provide us information and content that you have the right to give us and you promise that you LinkedIn profile will be truthful.” LinkedIn states that they have the right to suspend or terminate the profile of anyone who creates multiple or fake profiles. It seems as though LinkedIn has considered the major ethical implications, and they’ve done everything in their power to create a positive and secure user experience.

Social Media Terms and Conditions – The Small Print

I’m so connected to my computer and social media, when I login and see an updated user agreement or terms of services, I usually just scroll to the bottom of the page and click the “I accept” box. It doesn’t stop there, I recently signed a new lease and when handed a long document that the lady told me was “just your standard leasing agreement,” I signed the dotted line without reading all the terms and conditions. I could have signed my life away and I would have no clue!

This week’s lecture and readings reminded me a lot of the South Park iTunes agreement episode.

The problem with terms and conditions is that they’re just too long and usually contain jargon that’s hard to understand. It was a real struggle for me to make it all the way through the long list of terms and conditions, and there’s no way I would have read every word if it wasn’t for class! I consider myself to be a fairly intelligent person, but when reading through Facebook and Twitter’s user agreements, I have to admit that I was confused.

I don’t know that there is any quick and easy solution to making terms and conditions completely user-friendly because the social networks have to include the legal jargon so they don’t get sued. However, I think that there are steps that could be taken to ensure that social media users are actually reading the terms that they’re agreeing to.

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When reading through Facebook and Twitter’s terms and conditions, I liked that Twitter highlighted and summarized information in terms that everyone could understand (above). Organizing terms of service in this manner would help ensure that even if users didn’t read every single word, they would at least understand what they were agreeing to. I doubt that either network would legally be able to summarize all terms and conditions in this way, but I’m guessing it would increase what was actually read.

In Facebook’s terms and conditions this is a lot of emphasis put on “You,” as opposed to the company. As unfair as this may seem, you are the one who is using Facebook’s services, so you have to be responsible for how you use the network.

Some of the areas that I think need to be included in the terms and conditions of the social networks are user rights, privacy, how the site will share/use user content, account security, and provisions applied to advertisements/businesses. All of these areas have some crossover with ethical issues. To highlight an ethical concern that I’ve heard a lot about lately, I think it’s beneficial that both networks emphasize the fact that it’s against the rules to request that a user give you their password or account information. This will prevent the unethical practice of businesses requesting the information of potential employees.

Ethics usually aren’t black or white

social media ethicsYou can’t turn on the news without hearing about a company or an individual that has been impacted by social media. Just today, I read an article in the Wall Street Journal about whether or not companies should monitor their employees’ social networking accounts. Because social media is still a new means of communication, there are still a lot of questions about what practices are and are not ethical. Even with careful consideration, a company or individual can still get into trouble because social media ethics are rarely black and white.

This week we learned the three steps to making an ethical decision:

  1. What are my motivations?
  2. What are the likely effects and to whom?
  3. Where does my duty lie strongest?

If you’re struggling with an ethical social media issue, these questions are great places to start. When I deal with ethical concerns, I like to focus on the second question. If I’m not sure if I should post something, whether it be on my personal or professional sites (If you’re even questioning it, you probably shouldn’t), I try to think of what the possible outcomes might be.  I wouldn’t post the same content on my business page, that I would post on my personal page. When I’m posting professionally, I’m representing my company, so my duty lies with the brand and its reputation.

That theory sounds simple enough, but as the lecture proved, practically applying the theory can get a little more complicated, especially in the field of journalism. As a journalist, I have sought out information about someone I was writing about on social networking sites. I’ve used pictures from Facebook, researched who their friends were, pulled quotes from statuses, and used social networks to connect with potential sources. Some may consider it unethical, but it’s a method of survival in the reporting industry.

I’ve always considered using social sites as a tool as ethical, because the person is putting the information out there, so as a reporter, why wouldn’t you use that information? You have a duty to your company and to your profession to tell the whole story, and social media sites can help you do that.

In the case of adding the friend of a murder victim on Facebook without identifying yourself as a reporter, I would consider that ethical. Once you send the friend request, the person has the ability to see who you are, and they can make the decision of whether or not they want to add you. The ball is in their court. While I don’t think there’s anything unethical about it, I don’t know that it’s the kindest of things to do. The person has just gone through a major tragedy, so as a human being, you should respect that and not overstep your boundaries.

Introduction

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Hey everyone! I’m Lauren Roberts and this is my third semester in the Masters of Communication program at the University of Florida.

I was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, and I’m a proud Buckeye! I graduated from Ohio Northern University in 2011 with degrees in journalism and public relations. After graduation, I worked as a newspaper editor, which I thought was my dream job. After a year of “living the dream,” I realized that it wasn’t the career path I wanted to take for the rest of my life.

I worked in marketing while I was trying to decide what move to make next. During that time, I had the opportunity to blog and work on social media sites and I loved it! I knew that I wanted to continue working with social media, but I didn’t realize there was any formal educational program for it until my mom directed me to the program at the University of Florida. Hands down, going back to school and being part of this program has been one of the best decisions I have ever made!

I’m currently working as the Social Media Intern for Sparkle Life, a jewelry company located in Gainesville.

I love that we get to practically apply everything that we learn in the program. I’ve also found it very advantageous that I get to learn from people who are at the forefront of the social media industry. I was interested in Social Media Ethics because it’s so relevant in today’s society. You can’t turn on the news without hearing about how a business’ or individual’s reputation has been affected by what they’ve posted on social media sites.

When I’m not doing school work I enjoy running, watching and playing sports, hanging out on the beach, and spending time with family and my cat Mylee. I’ll actually be getting married to my fiance Matt during the semester (19 days and counting!), so this should be an extremely crazy time for me! I’m just trying to focus on the fact that the day after the semester finishes, I’ll be headed to the Dominican Republic for our honeymoon!