Imagine if every mistake you made at work, no matter how small or inconsequential, was called out and broadcast to millions of people.
Imagine further if finding one of those mistakes was a source of glee for millions of people.
Case in point, the copy editors for the New York Times.
Their job is to get things right. 100% right. All of the time. And if they get something wrong, they are expected to self-report their mistakes to be published in the Corrections listing.
To make it worse, there are millions of people who live for the thrill of pointing out typos in the Times.
There’s even a Twitter account, Typos of the New York Times, that corrects the Times’ copy editors one untactful tweet at a time.
As typos stand out to word nerds, legal mistakes stand out to lawyers. There’s not a meme funny enough to catch my eye the way a legal mistake does when I mindlessly scroll my social media feeds. My brain instantly begins drafting the demand letter and calculating damages.
To be clear, I’m talking about posts by influencers and bloggers, not personal accounts (though you should be careful with what you post on your personal account too).
Here are the top 3 legal mistakes influencers and bloggers make on social media every day.
A picture is worth a thousand words and posting a copyrighted photo on your blog or Instagram account without permission could cost you thousands of dollars.
Yes, thousands of dollars.
Inadvertent copyright infringement is one of the costliest mistakes I see influencers and bloggers make.
You cannot post an image unless you personally took the photo (and have releases from everyone in the photo) or have secured a license to use the photo.
And by securing a license, I mean contacting the person who owns the photo for permission (when you click on a photo in Google Images a copyright notice with contact info will usually pop up) or for stock photos, buying a license.
Simply linking back to the photo source and citing the photographer’s name is not “permission.” Neither is using a photo licensed to your web developer (you have to purchase your own license).
Think you will never get caught? Think again.
Creators of copyrighted images can hire companies who use automated computer programs to search the Internet looking unauthorized use of their images. And there are lawyers who make a living off of suing (or threatening to sue) unsuspecting bloggers and influencers for copyright infringement.
Bottom line, never just use a Google image photo and make sure every image you post has been sourced correctly.
And if you do get a nasty letter from a lawyer, take it seriously and consider hiring your own attorney.
Me personally, I keep it simple and legal by only using photos that I have either taken myself (and featuring only me or my kids) or free stock photo websites like Pexels.com and Pixabay.com.
Influencer Marketing Campaign Disclosures
Who doesn’t love free stuff?
Sponsored posts are how bloggers and influencers make money. Not this blogger, but other bloggers.
If you are making money or getting freebies in exchange for sponsored posts, make sure the posts are formatted correctly in accordance with FTC guidelines. For example, disclose your material connection to the brand and separate legal disclosures from hashtags to make sure they are clear and conspicuous. Screwing this up can result in fines and legal action.
Reviews can make or break your business. Research shows that it takes roughly 40 positive customer reivews to undo the damage of a single negative review.
Here’s how NOT to respond to a negative review—fake testimonials.
I see this in the small business owners Facebook groups I belong to. Someone will freak out over a single negative review, or the lack of any reviews period, and ask everyone and their dog to post a fake positive review.
The industry term for falsified online reviews is “astroturfing.” Not only can it damage your reputation, there are also laws against it carrying significant fines.
If you do receive a negative review, respond to the reviewer and acknowledge the issue and provide an explanation, if necessary. And only solicit reviews from people you have used your products or services.
Let’s hear from my fellow bloggers and influencers. Are there any legal issues keeping you up at night? Leave a comment or send me an email.
Read the Disclaimer.Tags: Bloggers, Influencers