Has Your Social Media Content Been Stolen? Legal Tips on What to Do Next

Editor’s note: In the light of big news coming up of Facebook pioneering war against social media identity theft, we thought this piece by SEOchat contributor was very timely. Enjoy!

Social media has become the top way for brands to increase awareness of what they’re doing, from promoting new products to interacting with customers. Experts encourage entrepreneurs to regularly post high-quality content in the hopes followers will share it across their own networks.

This means spending hours developing insightful updates, linking to your own great blog posts, and sourcing images from stock photo sites.

After putting all of this work into your content creation efforts, it can be even more disturbing to find your information posted on another site. It may even be a competing business’s blog or an industry magazine. Even if the site credits you as the author of the work, using your content without compensating you for it is a violation.

“There are several situations where social media content can be stolen,” says Robert May, founding attorney at The May Firm. “Increasingly publications are using social media posts as part of their news stories, as seen here. When they get permission first, it isn’t a problem.

Unfortunately, less professional sites fail to get that permission. Sometimes a site uses an original photo or copies a blog post that has been linked on social media. In more extreme instances, a business owner may find a fake account has been set up using his own name and likeness.”

Whatever the type of theft, it’s important to act quickly to make sure the content is removed. Here are a few steps you should take if you find your social media content has been stolen.

Step One: Make Contact

Before doing anything, send a friendly email politely asking that the content be removed. Don’t use forceful language in this initial contact. Simply state the action you would like to have taken as a result of the letter. If you want the content removed, ask politely that they do so within a certain number of business days.

If you are agreeable to being compensated for your content, state the price and offer removing the content as an alternative. Hopefully the offender will remove the content and send a letter of apology for the inconvenience. If not, wait the stated number of days before taking further action. If the content was posted on a site by an employee of an organization, take your complaint further up the chain before checking into outside options.

Step Two: Check the Terms of Service

While you’re waiting, carefully review the terms of service on the social media site where your content was originally posted. Facebook allows you to report copyright infringements using this tool, while Twitter’s tool is here.

Both are products of the Digital Millennial Copyright Act (DMCA), passed in 1996 to protect copyright holders from online theft. You may also want to check into the policies of the website where the content is posted, since they’ll have their own copyright infringement notification procedures.

DMCA Takedown Notice

In addition to the tools offered on various social media sites, copyright holders can also have content taken down using a DMCA Takedown Notice. You’ll need to determine the Internet Service Provider hosting the site where the content is posted and direct your letter there.

After an investigation, you’ll often find that the content is removed without having to wait for the person who posted it to respond. DMCA charges for the service through its site, but you can craft a letter for free using the instructions provided on the National Press Photographers Association site.

Contact an Attorney

When other recourse has failed to bring action, it’s time to seek legal assistance. Although attorneys will charge an hourly fee to help with copyright infringement, often content can be removed through a cease and desist letter. Such a letter packs a heavy punch when it comes from a law office.

If for some reason that letter doesn’t achieve results, however, an attorney can go through the courts to have a cease and desist order placed on the content, which requires that it be removed.

Having your content stolen can feel like a violation. Fortunately, there are actions you can take to let offenders know that you won’t allow your photos and text to be used for free. By having tools in place to use in the event your content is stolen, you’ll be prepared to take action if it ever happens.

Buyer’s Persona: A Success Guide That Works Every Time

I was sitting in a hookah bar one day, enjoying my sheesha when a woman walked over to my table and asked if I could give her two minutes.

After a quick greeting, she started asking some general questions like how I earned a living, what my typical day looked like, whether or not I smoked cigarettes, how much I spent on smoking each month and a few others.

I immediately understood that she was working for some upcoming cigarette brand and was researching personas.

I liked how they had chosen hookah bars for this purpose as people who smoke hookahs are easier to convert to a specific brand of cigarettes, compared to those who are already addicted to a certain brand of cigarette.

The incident made me realize, once more, that regardless of the size of a business, or whether it’s an established one or a startup, businesses always need buyer persona research to better understand their target audience to create  marketing strategies that are highly-effective and engaging.

In my opinion creating and executing marketing strategies without the buyer’s persona is like shooting arrows in the dark. You don’t know if you’re going to hit the mark. In simple words, buyer’s persona is essential to making informed and powerful marketing decisions that save costs and bring desired results, faster.

Why is buyer’s persona important?

  • Researching buyer’s persona for your company has multiple benefits, including; Your marketing campaigns are based on your target audience instead of a random study that you found online that might or might not apply to your business.
  • Your customer service will be better aligned to the values and needs of your customers. Buyer’s persona will help guide you about your target audience and the kind of service they expect from your company. You can then train your customer service department accordingly.
  • Your buyer’s persona will provide you with clear directions on how to create your messaging, product and service in a way that resonates strongly with each of your customers, instead of reaching out to everyone with the same line of reasoning. .

The alignment in your messaging, marketing and customer services that your buyer’s persona will afford you will naturally result in an increase in sales and better customer retention.

What is a negative persona?

The buyer’s persona discussed above helps you find out who your ideal customer is, what he does, where he works, his problems and the kind of solutions he expects from your business.

Negative (or exclusionary) personas are people who do not fall into your target audience or are generally a misfit with some or all aspects of your product or service, are too expensive to retain or are over or under-qualified for your product or service.

Let’s suppose you offer beginner or intermediate level digital marketing courses. People who have worked for six years or more in the digital marketing industry or are currently holding senior managerial positions within the industry will fall under the negative persona category for your business.

How to create buyer’s persona?

Buyer’s persona can be created via interviews, research and surveys.

In order to make up the various business personas, we have to interview existing customers, prospects and referrals.

The answers that we get from all three of these categories will provide us with valuable data, and help us learn about our own products and services, understand customer expectation, recognize areas that need improvement, and better comprehend practices that are a big hit with customers.

Here are the three types of people you can interview to create buyer personas.

Customers

Your customers are one of the best resources to help you create your buyer’s persona document. However, this is not applicable to new businesses that are still working to create a customer base.

People who have purchased from your website before are better able to explain more about how they felt, whether the product met their expectation or not and what else they want to see happening in your business.

While interviewing your existing customers, make sure you also include a few unhappy ones in the list because their feedback will shed light on those areas of your business, product or service that require improvement.

Your Business Prospects

This is the second step in developing the buyers’ persona. It’s also important to interview people who haven’t bought anything from you yet.

Understanding your prospects better will not only give them the impression that you are a responsible brand that is concerned about its customers, but the information provided by them will help you build a better and more detailed buyer’s persona document.

Referrals

If you are new business, you are pretty much left to depend on referrals only as you might not have substantial number of customers or prospects.

Interviewing referrals is still important even if you have a large customer base because referrals will gives you varied buyer personas to work with.

The best way to find people via referrals is through your contacts, or you could also find your target persona on LinkedIn and then catch up with them through mutual friends.

Tools

You can try tools like UserTesting and similar services to run questions and get answers from different people. The website also allows you to run remote user testing (with some follow-up questions). You’ll have less control over sessions, but it’s a great resource for quick user testing.

When interviewing people, it’s always good to invest whenever required. 

So, if you want to give away some gifts, discounts or special bonuses to your referrals or customers for their support, by all means do.

Also, remember that their time is as important as yours, so your questionnaire should be concise and to-the-point. Most importantly, do not sell. You are trying to collect the data, so stay focused.

What questions should you ask?

This one is very important. What kind of questions should you ask your interviewees to get a detailed understanding of your buyer’s persona?

You need to know the Who, What, Why and How…

Here are the few questions you should be asking;

  • What do they do? (Job title, position in the company.)
  • What does their typical day look like?(This will tell you more about his routine.)
  • What skills are required to do their particular job? (Ask this question only if your product requires it.)
  • What industry is their company part of?
  • Size and revenue of the company?
  • What is their biggest challenge?
  • What do they read? (Both online and offline)
  • Which social media platform are they most active on?  (Facebook, Twitter or any other?)
  • Personal and educational background? (This covers everything from name, age to location, educational background and anything else that’s relevant.)
  •  Preferred purchasing method and why? (Also, discuss their most recent purchase and understand the philosophy behind it)

Now that you have some substantial raw data, the next step is to sort it out, find commonalities between people, and then organize those points into different personas. It should look something like this:

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Sort that data and make a list of fictional characters that explain in detail the characteristics of your current and potential target audience. If your marketing strategies will be based on your targeted persona, there will be more chances for you to increase your customer’s lifetime value

Conclusion:

Once you have a better idea of your buyer’s persona you will know how to train your customer service team to serve your customers best, and see the changes required within the marketing and sales strategy to acquire and retain customers.

So if you don’t have a buyer’s persona document, start building one today!

5 Actionable Instagram Marketing Ideas

Instagram has been around for a while but most businesses haven’t yet figured out how to best utilize the platform.

Here 5 actionable Instagram marketing ideas for you to start with!

1. Invest in Instagram Ads

This tip is contributed by Janette Speyer (Partner at Web Success Team and Hot Ice Media)

We run a small agency in Los Angeles specializing in consumer goods. Many of our clients are in the food industry. As we all know, Instagram is a powerful visual messenger. It did not take long to convince everyone to try it out.

Our Facebook rep showed us how to navigate Power Editor. (Power Editor is a 3rd party app that Facebook uses for ad placement.) Although I am used to working on many ad platforms, this one does take a little getting used to.

Instagram Ads

The strategy

Once we found our way around the app, we were ready to think strategy. The holiday season is a perfect time to start promoting any product. So we built a concept around the time of year when shoppers are looking for new ideas. 

We debated if it was best to show the product in the imagery or just stick to a single picture that would convey the brand's qualities. 

It is often difficult for our clients to omit their packaging pics in the message. We opted to indulge them and let it run to see what came back to us.

Targeting the right audience

The benefit of using Instagram on the Ad Manager is that you can use the same parameters that you use in other Facebook ads. Our target markets are already defined and it is a good starting point for our first campaigns. We can always tweak later as the results come in.

Results

We are happy with our initial findings. Although far more expensive than regular Facebook ads, Instagram ads are worth the money. Even more so if you are if you are in the consumer goods business. Prices range from about $1.50 an impression to $3.50 on the higher side as opposed to Facebook that ranges at $.10 to $.60. 

What about B2B?

We did a personal test for our business to see what kind of engagement we would get.  B2B is not as appealing as a good piece of pumpkin pie or a turkey. Surprisingly, we got lots of positive feedback.

Here is a sample of the ad we ran

So a few takeaways

  1. It is a visual vehicle so this is a great opportunity for "show and tell"
  2. You can use videos to tell the story
  3. It is not widely used yet. So now is the time before the noise level gets too high
  4. 80% of traffic these days comes from mobile
  5. You can use your budget for both Facebook and Instagram at the same time for more exposure. (Facebook will show that same ad on both platforms)

Paid reach is a necessity for most business. We have a unique opportunity with these low-cost platforms. Take advantage of this now before those prices go up. I was around in the days of traditional advertising and the price was prohibitive.

If you have experience in Instagram advertising, please also help SEOchat forum member in this thread.

2. Re-Market Your Creatives

This tip is contributed by Martini Fisher (Author of "History, Prehistory and Biological Evolution" and many others)

I started on Instagram about two weeks ago. It was only about a week before my last book came out. I used Instagram to show my face. People respond to faces and they don't get to see my face in my books, of course, so Instagram is good for that. I also used it to put a few snippets of little paragraphs and dialogs from my upcoming book, as well as some visual triggers I used.

In my research I took a lot of pictures – so I chose some good ones and uploaded them on Instagram. And I put some photos of random daily activities there.

Market Your Creatives

It works for me. The photos involve my readers in my writing process, and they get a sort of "backstage pass" to what I look like and what I do on a daily basis. The dialogs I put in there give them little teasers of my upcoming book, and I met a couple of bloggers, reviewers, and fellow writers through Instagram as well.

3. Build Your Personal Brand

This tip is contributed by Sunita Biddu (Social Media Strategist & Blogging Coach )

I have started taking Instagram seriously just recently. I haven't marketed any project yet but personal brand marketing has worked very well. Well enough that it got me one big collaboration and two high paying clients. Played with this FAST social networks and figured out three most important things.

  • RIGHT Instagram Hashtags Matter. I could clearly see the difference in response for posts with hashtags, without hashtags and posts with right hashtags. There are some key hashtags such as "awesome", "amazing", "instagrammers", "instadaily" etc. that flood your posts with response when used. Plus the most relevant and popular hashtags about your posts.
  • Right Timing: A post made at 9pm received 85 responses within 5 seconds of posting. A post of similar quality posted at 2pm receives hardly 6 responses. You can imagine the power of timing.
  • Your Bio Counts. Once you attract your audience, they would like to know more about you and that's where you bio would make the difference.

4. Build Loyalty

This tip is contributed by Lukasz Zelezny (Head of Organic Acquisition)

My personal experience with the platform differs in many ways from the potential that it offers many different brands. Any brand that wants to maximize organic reach will definitely be able to extract plenty of value from Instagram. Personally, I have not yet used Instagram for marketing in any formal capacity and I personally believe it will be difficult to use it in my specific case for selling anything in the near future.

However, there are brands that will be able to utilize the platform for marketing, and it is in some ways better than Facebook. I've read studies which show that Facebook users are far more likely to turn away from brands than Instagram users; in fact, Instagram users are actually receptive to following up with brands and engaging with them in a proactive fashion.

Instagram isn't as crowded when it comes to marketing. Virtually all marketers today use Facebook to promote products and services, but less than half report using Instagram. Because of this, I would definitely recommend that brands take a look at Instagram to see whether their business model is compatible with marketing in Instagram broader community.

It's also worth noting that Instagram doesn't filter out organic reach in order to force brands into paid marketing. Facebook used to offer a similar approach, but then limited organic page reach to boost marketing revenue. Instagram theoretically allows 100 percent of followers to see each post. Because of this, it's hard to deny that Instagram has marketing potential.

Instagram – at least for some brands – can be a great way to boost reach and fulfill marketing objectives. Its effectiveness will vary by industry and niche, but it's definitely worth looking into.

5. Extend Your Connections, Increase Your Interactions

This tip is contributed by Doyan Wilfred (Growth-hacker and content marketer)

Just like on all the other social media platforms out there, visibility is key. 

In order to be successful on Instagram, begin with interacting. You should publish less and be actively engaging with other users.

Comments are more powerful than likes. Comment a lot!

Here’s how to manage your Instagram comments and likes.

Bonus Ideas and Resources

  • Create an Instagram-based service. For example, this site lets you print our Instagram photos easily
  • Integrate Instagram into your current site content to co-promote your Instagram channel and visual content using site. There’s a wealth of WordPress plugins for that (Here’s a handy guide on how to install WordPress plugins)
  • Partner with a charity. Instagram is full of active non-profit startup that enjoy huge engagement. Support one of them to both do something good and build visibility on Instagram

Are there more Instagram marketing ideas? Please share in the comments!