Social Media: Beauty and the Beast

Ok I confess, even though I really should be too old to enjoy them, I find that even now I love a great Disney film.

The story of Belle and the Beast remains an enchanting story of the contrast between two incompatible characters and how they fall in love, with a singing candelabra thrown in for good measure.  As is my way, it got my mind onto social media….sad I know.

Not so much the love between two seemingly incompatible characters, but the two sides of social media that are inextricably linked, there is no beauty without the beast.  For every delicate waltz through the candlelight there is a huge great beast lurking in the shadows ready to pounce.  Well, that can be the case.

The benefits social media can bring to any business are well documented.  As a evangelist of social media I know from experience just how businesses can gain from it.  But, how many of you are aware of the increasing legal implications associated with this beautiful marketing tool?
For example, have you ever taken any time to read the End User Licence Agreement (EULA) you agreed to when you set up your social media account?

Do you know how much control Facebook have over the ‘content’ you upload to your profile – whilst retaining no liability for anything you choose to publish?

Are you aware of just how newspapers and other media outlets can make use of your tweets, including why they are able to publish them without your express consent?
Not to mention the employment law implications of everything from tweets about work and colleagues to endorsements and contact databases on LinkedIn.  The legal ‘beast’ that comes with social media is big and scary.

If these questions have already started to send a shiver down your spine, just look at the various examples of gaffs, pr disasters and just downright bad behaviour of a raft of celebrities, footballers and other personalities on social media networks over the past 2 years.  You aren’t alone in not appreciating these implications.

A beast has been unleashed and understanding how best to deal with this is a challenge even the biggest organisations are still coming to terms with.

The good news, let’s call it the fairytale ending, is that the beast is so often misunderstood and certainly doesn’t need to be quite as scary as it first appears.
So how can we be sure of taming the beast? Well the short answer is that we can’t.

What you can do is make sure you are aware of the various implications, make sure you have a clear social media policy and remember with every tweet, update or contact you are creating your very own digital footprint story…and that story is one that could last forever.

Simon Brooke is a Director at Happy Creative, a strategic marketing and creative branding agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to www.happy-creative.co.uk or @Happy_Creative

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