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.

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.


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!

How to Rank Twitter Bios for More Leads

Your Twitter Bio is just like any other page: the number and quality of the incoming links affects the PA (Page Authority). Although outgoing links from Twitter are nofollowed, increasing your PA and influence is valuable for making your tweets and bio rank in the serps.

If your business is in a particular competitive niche or you have a new site, ranking your Twitter bio and using it to drive potential buyers to your own site can be faster and easier.

Why Would You Want Your Twitter Bio to Rank?

Ranking your Twitter bio is primarily to get customers, of course! Having a Twitter bio on the home page of Google is very possible as you can see in this example for an SEO agency whose Twitter account @topcharlotteseo was third for the phrase “Top Charlotte SEO”. SEOing obviously can rank Twitter bios.


How to Rank Twitter Bios for More Leads

If your site is new or does not have any authority yet, gaining visibility through ranking your Twitter (or other social network bios) could be faster. As with any other page you want to rank, how many incoming links you have and the PA of your Twitter bio affect where it ranks.

The Twitter account in this example has 252 incoming links and a PA of 59. Typically, the Twitter account with the most influence for the desired keywords ranks highest.

According to SEO consultant and trainer Adrienne DeVita of Digital Media Cube:

“All of Google’s algorithm ranking factors apply to Twitter rankings, too. For example, Google bots automatically see the bounce rate if a searcher hits “back” immediately; the interaction on the landing page it links to; the keyword relation to the search; the page authority on that page; and the click through rate from their SERPs. Strive to use your phrase as the first words in your bio and tweets whenever it makes sense grammatically for the person searching – and make sure your phrase is within the first 90 characters. Put any secondary phrase you wish to rank for in characters 91-115.”

When your Twitter bio or your tweets rank, you can use them for lead generation. There are now tools that search for Twitter users and reach out to them to start interactions. The best I know for automating lead generation on Twitter is Socedo.

Finally, don’t miss this interesting take from First Site Guide on how much difference Twitter can make in terms of business development.

How to Automatically Capture Leads on Twitter

As you can see in the screen capture below, you can choose your target audience by checking their profession or interest. Once it identifies someone in your audience, it favorites one of their tweets automatically. Then an hour later it follows that user.

Twitter Lead Generation Using Socedo Audience Targeting

After the user follows back, Socedo can (depending on how you have your account configured), either:
  • Start a conversation by sending them a personalized tweet
  • Send them a message and link to your lead capture landing page
Your sales team then decides whether to follow-up (by approving them), or not follow up (by declining within Socedo) or set lower priority to leads they may wish to engage at a later time.

Analytics built into Socedo allows you to modify your targeting and better qualify your leads based on your results. This video shows how it works:

If you want more details on how Socedo works, read How to Generate and Close Social Leads On Twitter. Now that you realize how important Twitter can be for your business, let’s talk about how to keep track of your conversations there.


Business Dashboards for Tracking Twitter

Remembering to keep on top of what you’re doing on Twitter in addition to everything else related to your SEO rankings is a challenge. Fortunately, there is a simple solution: Cyfe. Kristi Hines wrote a comprehensive blog post with a screen capture showing 15 of their widgets. Check out that link for all the widgets that already exist for Twitter (and Klout, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google Plus, Instagram, and YouTube).

Cyfe offers 8 Twitter widgets plus Twitter search plus Klout and bit.ly (to see clicks on your shortened links). Here is an example layout from my Cyfe account showing the Twitter overview, Moz numbers, Twitter tweets, Twitter lists, bit.ly stats, Twitter search results for the search “growmap”, Twitter mentions, Twitter favorites and SERPs – a new widget I’m testing that hasn’t populated yet.

How to SEO Twitter Bios to Rank Your Business - Cyfe Twitter Widgets Dashboard Views

Adding a widget is as easy as clicking on what you want and doing some very simple configuration. You can resize and move each window to wherever you want it. When you mouse over graphs, additional information appears in a pop-up. These are only a few of the massive number of widgets available for other social networks, analytics, advertising, sales and finance and much more.

The image below shows details for a specific date showing tweets, following, listed (in Twitter lists), and Favorites. This data is not live so there is a delay of about 24 hours. (You can see another example in Kristi’s post linked above.)

Cyfe Twitter Widget Overview / SEO Twitter


Should You Bother to Rank Tweets?

We focused on Twitter bios rather than tweets first because Google indexes only 7-9% of all tweets according to this comprehensive study by StoneTemple on how tweets could impact your SEO and what tweets Google is likely to index. It includes:
  • Data on 133K+ tweets to see how Google indexed them
  • Of 138,635 tweets only 7.4% were indexed!
  • Twitter users with more followers have more indexed tweets (21% > 1 million; 10% for 10k-1M; 4% under 10k followers)
  • Images and/or hashtags seem to “increase your chances of getting indexed, as the percentages are significantly higher than the average overall percentage of 7.4%.”
  • “26% of the tweets with an inbound link from sites other than Twitter got indexed. That is nearly 4 times as much as the overall average rate of indexation.
See that post for more details on their study. As you can see, getting your Twitter bio to rank – and keep ranking – is far more likely than getting any particular tweet indexed – much less getting it to stay on page one in the search engines.

Twitter Best Practices

Some of us have been power users of Twitter since they started. I’ve gathered everything you need to know about Twitter into one post called Twitter Best Practices. From the basics for beginners to advanced strategies, everything important to know is in or linked from that post.

Have questions? Leave me a comment and I’m happy to assist.