Ethics and Your Organization’s Social Media Presence

Alright, I hate to switch gears on you so unexpectedly, but I’m going to switch gears on you. Knowing how to work social media websites, creating a strategy and evaluation are all important… for you. We now need to start thinking about how your organization is affecting/will affect others.

Your organization likely decided to get a social media presence for two reasons. The first, of course, was to get your name out there, which is perfectly fine. The second was to spread your health messages because (hopefully) you genuinely care about the cause you’re working for and want to help others.

That second part is where ethics come in. What ethical obligations do you have on social media? What ethical considerations should you take into account? Do your personal social media accounts matter?

Ethical Considerations

While thinking of your social media strategy, I urge you to take a very careful look at each post of yours. Can it in any way offend anyone? Can it be taken the wrong way? Is this going to be helpful?

A good way to answer these questions is by seeing if your organization’s cause (nutrition, diabetes, etc) has social media guidelines. For example, There are social media guidelines for mental health and suicide prevention made by TEAM Up. They offer tips that I would have never even thought of, such as using people-first language.

I like TEAM Up’s guidelines because it says that you need to actually respond to people reaching out. For mental health, this could be when someone posts suicidal thoughts, such as shown below.


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Also, try to stay away from being too trendy. As it turns out, people are more annoyed by it than anything, according to What they were referring to was the disaster of using “The Dress” in a domestic abuse ad. Yikes. Doing something like this makes domestic violence look less serious, which is the exact opposite of what The Salvation Army wanted. “The Dress” was a lighthearted situation, that also caused a bit of annoyance for some, so using it for a serious cause proved to be more disastrous than helpful.


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(This picture was taken off of


Ethical Obligations

Yes, your personal social media accounts matter, for everyone, but I’m looking hard at you doctors, nurses, and other medical staff. You are trusted by the public to be professional. Their lives are literally in your hands, so don’t be mad when people find out through your social media accounts that you’re wasted every other night and violate HIPAA laws. Speaking of which, please don’t do that. I mean, that should be obvious. However, people still think it’s okay to do it if you don’t include names. Just steer clear of talking about patients online, okay? It’s unprofessional.


(This picture was taken from


You’re also obligated to read through the information you’re sharing, such as an article related to your cause. According to The Verge, more and more people are sharing articles without reading them through. This may not sound like a big deal, but who knows what could be said in the article. There could be incorrect information or something extremely insulting.

A silly mistake on your personal page isn’t much of an issue, but if you share without reading on your health organization’s social media accounts, you could get yourself in trouble, and there goes your credibility.

Negative Comments

What do you do when someone or a lot of people are posting negatively about your organization or on your posts? It sounds simple until it happens to you. Insight180 has some great tips when dealing with negative commenters. I’ll highlight the things I found important.

  • Always respond. “Conversation between an audience and an organization on social media is the epitome of transparency.” See if you can resolve the issue out in the open or message them privately.
  • If the comment is just rude, profane or unjustified, try to delete the comment if possible and block the user. It may just be an internet troll.
  • Develop a strategy for dealing with these comments
  • Don’t let negatively stop you from posting your beneficial posts!


Having a social media presence is a lot harder than it sounds, I know. Your organization is responsible for what it does and what it posts, so always put your best foot forward. Remember you are there to help your audience; use this to drive everything you do on social media, and think before you post! Use social media guidelines to help you through this, read through all the articles you share, don’t be dumb on your personal social media accounts, and know how to respond to negative commenters. You can do it.



Best of luck,

Bekki C.





Read something you agree or harshly disagree with? Let me know! The cool thing about opinions is that they aren’t facts and can change at any time, including mine. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

One thought on “Ethics and Your Organization’s Social Media Presence

  1. The content of this blog was very helpful. The way you used visuals to show your examples really would help someone understand the do’s and don’ts of how to relay content when having ethical concerns. I also like how you had a whole segment on how to negative comments. Negative comments cannot be avoided, no matter how much an organization tries, and by you giving advice on how to appropriately handle them will make it easier for someone who is trying to use social media for marketing.


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