Sometimes it can be difficult to parse the “right way” of going about social media. There are tools and tutorials, assessments and analytics. What works on one network may not play on another. But beyond the rules of “know your audience” and “engage with your followers,” good social media takes practice and finesse.
Conversely, the wrong way to do social media is easily spotted.
A shining example of not-best-practices came to light via Best for Babes. Nursing mothers at a Delaware mall refused to move to the bathroom at the request of mall security, and were within their legal rights according to Delaware breastfeeding statutes. Although state police were called, the troopers rightly allowed the women to continue nursing. When a mom contacted the mall through its Facebook page to ask about the incident, the “official” response included insults and inappropriate remarks.
Unfortunately for Delaware’s Concord Mall, anyone with the capability to take a screenshot (which is standard on all computers and mobile devices) could now use this however they wished.
The administration of the mall then removed the page and denied it had ever had a Facebook presence in emails, despite more screenshot evidence to the contrary—a prominent Facebook button on the mall’s website.
At SMX Israel this week, lawyers Yoram Lichtenstein and Baruch Bebchick took on some of the issues that can arise for people who work in social media, digital marketing and SEO. But, from my perspective, the two most important takeaways can apply to anyone.
Point one: Nothing is private. Before you post anything, think once. Then think twice.
Even when you use “private” messaging or intend to keep messages, statuses, or photos restricted to a small circle of people, things happen. Ask Randi Zuckerberg.
Sometimes, it includes potentially bad, career-ending things. Ask Anthony Weiner.
Remember when a Facebook bug supposedly revealed years’ worth of private messaging on people’s timelines? Good times!
It just takes one screenshot to fully reconstruct a lapse in judgment.
Point two: Know the law.
In the SMX session, Baruch Bebchick intended this in terms of how people are using social media, not only the terms of service but also adherence to local and federal laws for things like contests and giveaways. I would extend this to knowing the law for anything you may discuss on social networks. Luckily, living in the age of search, information like this is readily accessible.
We will leave the nursing angle to more well-versed bloggers, but from a social media angle Concord Mall’s response to the breastfeeding moms was disaster for the mall for myriad reasons.
- A callous, caustic (and public!) response to a sensitive issue will be never be acceptable.
- When you err in judgment, don’t delete it and attempt to pretend the event never happened.
- Know where you stand legally before you respond. In this case, mall security was on the wrong side of Delaware state law. From there, mounting a defense becomes extremely difficult.