As we engage more directly with our customers through social media, it’s more important than ever to be trustworthy. As a starting point, here are seven rules for ethical marketing:

1. Tell the truth. Don’t write or say anything, anywhere, that isn’t true. True is not a relative term – it’s black and white. If it looks grayish, don’t say it.

2. Say it nicely. Don’t write or say anything, anywhere, that you’d be ashamed to see on a billboard on the interstate or on the front page of the newspaper.

3. Give credit and say thank you. It’s so easy to get information and much of it is free. But if you use information from the Internet, credit the source. If possible, link to it.

4. Protect your customers. Never use a story about a client, even if you’ve removed the name, without asking for permission.

5. Treat your blog like journalism, not marketing. Pretend the editor at the New York Times is going to fact-check you.

6. Use ghostwriters with integrity. If the ideas come from an expert, and a writer builds an article, blog post, newsletter, or seminar content from those ideas, it’s the expert’s work.

7. Respect your competitors. It’s just bad form to say negative things about competitors. Differentiating your company means saying positive things about yourself that are truthful, can be supported with evidence, and make a difference to clients. Don’t lie to get competitive intelligence. Instead, consider asking your clients who switched or employees who moved. Follow competitors on social media, and set up Google alerts.