Ethical leadership strengthens communities

by Martin Reed on 5 June 2007 in Snippets

In previous articles I have written about the importance of trust in community building, and how you can encourage interaction through the use of suspense and controversy.

Behaving ethically can enhance the trust your community members place in you. When implementing promotional techniques such as the use of suspense and controversy, you must remain ethical.

In this article, I will tell you why.

The importance of ethics

It is all too easy to forget that behind every username, every visitor statistic and every email is a real, live human being. The same social and ethical rules should apply to online interactions as they do in the offline world.

Unfortunately all too often for the sake of a quick buck or because we forget that online people are real people, these considerations go out of the window.

If you want people to trust you, you must have personal integrity and act ethically. Are you running a community for recovering gamblers? I bet if you ran an advertising campaign for online gambling you would get yourself a great conversion rate! Should you do this though? Ethically speaking, it would be the wrong thing to do.

Just as most of us wouldn’t hand a drunk a bottle of vodka, we shouldn’t expose our site members to things we know may be damaging or otherwise unsuitable for them.

The benefits of acting ethically

By acting ethically, you will not only feel good and sleep well at night, but you will gain respect and trust from your users and your peer group.

Your reputation is the most valuable thing you will ever own. Make one mistake, and it will be ruined forever.

Gaining a reputation as an ethical person will rub off onto how people perceive your website. If people trust you as a person, they will trust your site.

If you are running an online community, this will mean people will be more inclined to register and get involved. If you are running an e-commerce site, your ethical credentials will encourage people to buy.

You’ll feel good, your users will feel good and your website will benefit. There’s more to being ethical than meets the eye, eh?

Share this community building advice

8 comments

Similar Posts

Previous post:

Next post:

{ 7 comments }

Smiley June 6, 2007 at 12:48 am

I agree. Despite my reputation, I’m quite caring of users, particularly new users who maybe feeling a little vulnerable and lost.

I often find myself giving them a bit of extra guidance.

As well as forgetting that people behind a screen are real people – what I notice a lot, too, is people forget just what it’s like to be a new user.

It’s amazing how many people ignore new users, don’t offer help or advice etc.

As for building suspense and controversy, I’ve toned mine down a LOT lol, my full blown “hang ‘em all!” routine won’t go down well on a new site.

Although I do create a few characters under a couple of different names. “Mr Bling” for example, my “gangster rapper psychologist” character often tickle user’s funny bones, as on my other site there is a “Mr Bling’s Clinic” forum, where users can spill out their problems, stresses and ask for their advice to their heart’s content, only to get Ali G crossed with Mr Garrison (South Park if you’ve ever seen it!) replying back to them.

I thought it was rather different and I’ve never seen another site with something quite like it, and it always gave me a giggle as well as the users, thus brought us closer!

Martin Reed June 6, 2007 at 11:10 am

Hey Smiley – it’s great that you are really getting involved in your community and adopting various characters to liven things up.

When things are done with such a comedy slant like you describe, it is rare for people to take things the wrong way.

Ethics, trust and community all go hand in hand. It’s good to see you recognising that.

Smiley June 6, 2007 at 8:43 pm

I’ve only just recognized it lately, admittedly!

Andy June 8, 2007 at 3:01 am

Hooray for ethics!
A scammer recently approached me to do some consulting work for him (I was referred through family), and I was shocked that he was able to justify his business and had no ethical concerns whatsoever.

His network of sites sells ‘subscriptions’ to download unlimited movies and mp3s for $30. Problem is, all he gives his customers after receiving payment is a free copy of uTorrent and instructions on how to search!

Smiley June 8, 2007 at 9:12 am

LOL.

Got to admit, that’s pretty clever, even if it is unethical (possibly a crime??)

Martin Reed June 9, 2007 at 12:18 pm

Hi Andy – thanks for your comment. Did you end up doing the work for this client?!?

Jon-Paul McTavy May 12, 2009 at 3:23 pm

A scammer recently approached me to do some consulting work for him (I was referred through family), and I was shocked that he was able to justify his business and had no ethical concerns whatsoever.

His network of sites sells ’subscriptions’ to download unlimited movies and mp3s for $30. Problem is, all he gives his customers after receiving payment is a free copy of uTorrent and instructions on how to search!

{ 1 trackback }