Common Errors Companies Make Through Social Media
October 22, 2018
While social media has been around for decades, it has become an ever-evolving tool for personal and business use. Past social media users helped create the landscape we currently see online, and while it used to be a pretty simple platform to maneuver, the constant updates to policies and regulations has become thicker and thicker. This makes it more difficult than ever for businesses to maneuver social media without fail.
Social media giants like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, to name a few, are pretty straight forward in what’s allowed and what’s not. As a business, it’s your job to determine which content is safe to upload and how you interact with your customers. For the most part, you’re going to be successful, and many businesses never encounter a problem. However, with so much red tape in social media, especially surrounding marketing tactics, it’s important to know what’s acceptable and what could get you in hot water. Here are a few of the common errors businesses make while using social media.
Not Asking Permission Before Sharing
As a personal users scrolling through the masses of unfiltered images on Instagram, it’s easy to grab a few of your favorites and repost them. Most users are fine with this so long as they receive a shout out for their handiwork. However, when it comes to business users this gets a bit complicated. Being a business means taking extra precautions to avoid any social media act which could garner bad press, or worse, land you in hot water with the law.
Before reposting a photo or video you think will capture the brand online, be sure to ask; a private message, or even a comment, commending the original user on their content and asking if they mind you sharing it. This gets rid of any potential for drama later when someone finds their personal photo on your business’ Instagram page.
Posting Photos from an Unacknowledged Source
Just as you need permission to share content you find on someone else’s Instagram page, you should get the proper permissions and rights to post photos you find on Google Image, or through some other website. There’s nothing wrong with using premade images in a marketing campaign, or even just as a daily blog post, so long as you have the permission to do so.
Copyright law has been an increasing issue in the social media world, with some companies landing themselves in hot water for forgetting to acquire the rights to use photos or videos. Don’t get caught unaware with content you’ve forgotten to properly thank its creator for.
Be Wary of Other Copyrighted Materials
Abiding by the laws for sharing photos and videos is great, but what about logos? It’s fine to use these if the company is in another country, right? Not necessarily, and before you do, you’d better do some research, and maybe even consult a lawyer. Intellectual property claims are valid so long as materials used are copyrighted, which means you could get yourself in hot water picking up a premade logo on the internet.
If you find a logo you just must have, speak to a designer about implementing some of the more favorable portions of the design into a new logo for your company. There’s nothing wrong with drawing inspiration from these resources, as long as they aren’t copied completely.
Forgetting Terms and Conditions When Creating Contest Rules
Social media contests have become the most popular form of online contest in recent years and companies are benefitting from this success. If you’ve ever participated in a company contest, you’ve probably noticed a little something called “Terms and Conditions”. This is the fine print you see on the inside of the cereal box, on the bottom of the chip bag, and even on a scratch and win lotto ticket. Any contest which offers a reward requires some structuring of conditions to ensure rules are followed and everybody gets what’s owed to them.
If you require winners of your photo contest to include a watermark on their photos and the selected winner doesn’t have one, this will upset other contest entrants who followed all the rules. It also keeps your company from being conned, because all applicants are forced to follow the same set of guidelines.
Speaking Out Against Competing Companies
It’s all well and good to promote your business, in fact, it’s encouraged in today’s marketplace, however, you have to be careful in how you go about promoting your brand. One way to potentially ensure that your company is at the forefront of consumer minds is by downgrading competitors to improve your standing in your industry. Unfortunately, while it might seem good in theory, these bullying tactics won’t be tolerated. Not only are negative posts of this kind being banned from many social media sites, but if you get caught saying things about another company without the proof to verify your claims, you could get hit with a libel and slander suit.
Avoiding these pitfalls, and others, is the best way to keep your company fresh and on the straight and narrow of social media etiquette. It’s always better to take the time to clear it with another user before using a piece of their intellectual property, rather than just taking it.
A great way to stay on top of these potentials for social media and online marketing failure is by thinking about things from a personal standpoint. If it were you, would you want your content shared without acknowledgement? If a logo was very similar to your own, would it make you question whether yours had been copied? These are things to consider, and helpful ways to stay on top of content control.