Debbie Laskey, MBA

Have you ever spent hours working on a document for work? That’s a silly question because most of us who recognize Microsoft software and SlideShare have spent countless hours working on executive briefs, lengthy project reports, presentation decks, and much, much more.

Normally, we give our work product to our supervisors or give our presentation to our teams and then move on to the next project. But on that rare occasion when someone suggests, “Why don’t you put that document online,” there may be severe ramifications that must be considered.

For those who call the legal profession home, the theme of this post will come as no surprise, but for others who are not lawyers, paralegals, or other legal support staff, it’s hard to know where the line is drawn when it comes to the enforcement of online copyright infringement.

Allow me to share a recent incident. While I receive regular Google Alerts and Talkwalker Alerts via email for my name, every so often, I conduct a Google search featuring my full name. While my name is not as common as John or Jane Smith, odd as it may seem, there are still other Debbie Laskey’s in the world.

However, since I am a guest blogger for 10 blogs and have an extensive digital footprint with profiles on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, YouTube, Flickr, Instagram, SlideShare, About.me, Quora, and others, this recent Google search yielded many pages of content that appropriately related to me. In fact, the first 10 pages of content correctly referred to me and my work.

But then something odd turned up in the Google search: There was an appearance of one of my presentations that I had posted to SlideShare (entitled Social Media Marketing 101), and it appeared on an unknown website. The entire document was mine – nothing had been changed. But my document was on someone else’s site, a site that promoted itself as “the premier online destination to start and grow small businesses.” The site further explained that it housed over 20 million documents. But, there had been no request for featuring my document. There had been no communication whatsoever from the site owner. And there was no link back to any of my websites.

This copyright infringement caused me great concern. I looked around the website for contact information and to see if there were any FAQs that addressed this issue. I found an email address and sent a request to immediately remove my document. A few days later, I received an email with a form to complete. “This form and reporting copyright infringement is to be used for purposes of requesting the removal of copyrighted content only because the person who posted it did not have the right to post the material.” Either the website posted my document or someone else submitted it – but in either case, I wanted it removed.

A few days later, I received another email indicating that my document had been removed from the website. But this entire experience has raised an important issue in our social era. How can we protect our digital assets? How can we protect our profile names, our digital designs and logos, our work product, etc.?

The reality is that, since there is so much information being added to the Internet every second, no one can really monitor every single appearance of our personal brands and corporate brands. Therefore, the best rule of thumb is, don’t place data online that would severely impact your brand or your business. Don’t place confidential data at risk. Don’t place logos or photos that are not approved for widespread use or specifically for media use. Don’t place videos on your site featuring your C-Suite leaders in interviews saying questionable things.

The Internet is a resource for doing business smarter and reaching existing and prospective customers, but don’t let it negatively impact your business by allowing your corporate brand assets to be infringed upon.

Debbie Laskey, MBA

If you’re a marketer, you probably spend a great deal of your day checking Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, and LinkedIn. Depending on your industry, you may also spend time on YouTube, Flickr, Instagram, and any number of other peripheral sites. But did you know that Twitter can be your best friend in the social media milieu if you’re a brand marketer?

Here are the top five reasons why you need to be part of the Twitterverse:

[1] Keep up-to-date on marketing, branding, advertising, and social media news.

[2] Keep up-to-date on your specific industry news as well as competitors.

[3] Learn from experts in your industry – many tweet regular updates.

[4] Learn about and resolve customer issues/problems/complaints – in real time.

[5] Participate and host Twitter Chats.

Here is a list of ten Twitter chats that you may wish to participate in:

[1] #CXO: customer experience chat – takes place Monday 12noon ET/9am PT.

[2] #MMchat (Marketer Monday): takes place Monday 8pm ET/5pm PT.

[3] #CustServ (Chat): takes place Tuesday 9pm ET/6pm PT.

[4] #MktgActionChat: takes place last Tuesday of the month 9pm ET/6pm PT.

[5] #brandchat: takes place Wednesday 11am ET/8am PT.

[6] #smchat: Social Media – takes place Wednesday 1pm ET/10am PT.

[7] #MobileChat: takes place Wednesday 10pm ET/7pm PT.

[8] #HBRchat: Harvard Business Review – takes place Thursday 1pm ET/10am PT.

[9] #mediachat: takes place Thursday 10pm ET/7pm PT.

[10] #blogchat: takes place Sunday 8pm ET/5pm PT.

So, how should you spend your time on Twitter? Plan your time strategically:

[1] Develop a Twitter plan – include goals for engagement, a calendar for content, and a schedule for time commitments.

[2] Craft your brand’s and/or company’s official voice – depending on industry, this may be formal, informal, or conversational.

[3] Decide who will tweet on behalf of your company and use initials so that followers will know who is tweeting (the initials should clearly correspond to full names in the “About Section”).

[4] Engage your audience or followers – ask questions, offer coupons, use polls, etc. – and respond to each person individually if possible.

[5] Decide how you will handle customer complaints – and be consistent.

Above all, be true to your brand by being consistent. Don’t tweet content that you wouldn’t include in your annual report or share on your company’s blog or website. Remember, your Twitter account may be part of the social media landscape, but it’s just as much a reflection of your brand as any other piece of the marketing pie.

But because Twitter exists in real time, your reach can be, and is, immediate – which sets this tool apart from all of your other marketing efforts. Use this difference to your advantage.

–Dan Kelly, Attorney

I have previously attempted to sound the alarm about why companies should be concerned about direct navigation on the Internet (here here here and here), but I learned this week from The FairWinds Blog that not only does Yahoo! Inc. (operator of the photo sharing website Flickr and owner of the FLICKR registered trademark and brand) not own the domain name at flicker.com, but the owner of that domain, Ashantiplc Limited out of Hong Kong, uses the website (which has been registered since 1998) simply to publicize its own traffic statistics.

Ashanti claims that flicker.com receives 3.6 million unique visits each year, more than ninety-five percent of which come from type-in traffic, i.e., users who directly navigate to the site by literally typing “www.flicker.com” in the address bar of a browser window.  (This site suggests that it is currently more like one million a year, and Compete.com suggests that it has been somewhere between 600k and 700k over the past year.  Good article here about verifying domain traffic stats.)

Anybody know the going rate for even 600,000 annual impressions?

A commonly heard objection is, “well people looking for Flickr will get there eventually anyway.”  Perhaps.  But if you owned a brick and mortar store, and knew that a significant number of your customers consistently took a confusing wrong turn in driving to your store, wouldn’t you eventually try to warn them or put up a sign in a strategic location to help them out?  Why should it be any different on the Internet?