Until Someone Pokes Their Eye Out

With the holidays almost upon us, it’s getting to be the time when we all watch “A Christmas Story” for the umpteenth time.

A Christmas Story

A Christmas Story (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As a parent, one line that always sticks out is the “you’ll shoot your eye out” phrase since it echoes something I used to hear as a kid. That was more like “it’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye” but the meaning is similar.

There’s a business reason why I’m raising this as well. Many businesses routinely assign inexperienced staff to support their digital efforts. This happens particularly in the social space, where it’s easy to get caught up in the meme of the day. What’s a meme?  You know them – everything from LOLcats to “Mckayla Is Not Impressed” to “Binders Full Of Women.”  Some are short-lived, some endure.  Maybe it’s not that sort of activity but just someone trying to be proactive – there’s interest in something the company is doing, let’s foster it.  In either case, an employee trying to have the business engage with fans can do a great deal of damage, and it’s not just to a business’s reputation.

For example – let’s say your social admin decides to challenge your fans to a contest of some sort.  There are no written rules and one of the losers objects.  Lawsuit waiting to happen.  Let’s say another admin posts an image and encourages fans to do their own version.  Who vetted the theme (was it copyrighted someplace)?  Who approved the materials (do we have a license for the image as well as for any actors/others who are in the image)?  Or maybe you decided to use one of  the Cheezburger Network’s LOLcats sites to create a meme with an eye towards starting something viral. Did anyone make sure the materials you are using are free for commercial use or have been licensed for your specific purpose?

Any time we charge someone with speaking for our brand or our company we should hear the Mom in A Christmas Story.  You really can shoot out a lot more than your eye if you don’t understand the business and legal ramifications that are well beyond understanding the technology.  That’s when it stops being fun and games.  Any thoughts?

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Filed under digital media, Helpful Hints

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