New book: Julia Annas, Intelligent Virtue
David Brooks' false dichotomy regarding autonomy and sociality

Social MarketIng and Ethics

Jonathan B. Wight

Paul Zak, James Otteson and I participated on a panel yesterday at the first annual National Conference on Teaching Economics, sponsored by the AEA and held at Stanford. The keynote speaker was Vernon Smith talking about ... Adam Smith and ethics!

Our session built on Vernon's paper to flesh out the arguments about why economics instructors needed to treat complex human behavior rather than stereotypes of max U.

At the conference, Paul Zak discussed the physiological basis for social networking. Not coincidentally, I'm now in San Francisco with social marketing guru Darby Williams (@DarbyWill) who leverages social media to drive engagement and revenues for businesses. "People can sniff out fakes," Williams agreed, "even on line.

  Transparency is the name of the game." Adam Smith would have endorsed this view. Williams continued:Darby_Head_Shot_2009_Rooftop_-_90K_-_cropped_for_foursquare

If you are too positive about a product, people will think you're connected with the company. I help brands be authentic in how they communicate with customers and the world so they are believed and allowed into the "conversation." The conversation is already happening in the social world between consumers, and brands can become part of this conversation only if they are truly authentic. To be authentic is to not only be genuine it is to be willing to accept criticism and respond to it honestly. 

In other words, it is to cultivate a moral conscience and the self control to live it through.


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