I had a very exciting weekend! My eldest son went to his first prom, so of course, being the dutiful mom, I wanted to share those photos with the world – well, at least my social media world. But as I was downloading and getting ready to post the photos, I realized that many of them included my son’s friends. Of course, I hadn’t taken the time to ask each one if I could add pictures of them to my Facebook page. I’m certain the kids were tweeting them all over, but what was my responsibility and how did it affect my urge to share my excitement?
I approached the sharing of my own photos on social media with the same caution that we advise businesses to exercise. Our clients often will hold fundraisers, events and meetings where photos or videos are taken. As a public relations and marketing agency, we encourage our clients to share as much as possible – when it makes sense. We encourage them to proactively share their stories online, which also boosts the search engine optimization (SEO) of their websites.
As is standard practice, our clients are always directed to obtain signed releases when producing professional videos or photographs. But what rules govern more informal situations, such as 300 people in a ballroom at a charity event?
Companies should keep in mind a few simple rules when posting photos on platforms such as Facebook or Instagram:
- Photos taken at public events and in public places are usually okay to use but always ask yourself if people in the image have a reasonable expectation to privacy.
- If you are not sure if someone would want their image posted online, ask them first when possible. It never hurts to provide such a courtesy.
- Assume that everything you share will not be kept private - if you post it online, it’s public.
- Follow the rules of the individual social media site you are using.
- Ask permission before reposting content you did not create.
There is a great article in USA Today by Kim Komando, “Think twice before taking pictures in public .” It’s worth reading and heeding her advice.
Companies use social media to send information out to the masses, but publishing the wrong information can interfere with daily business or personal issues. Monitor your company pages and think before you post.
And in the end, I did post a few pictures, taken from a distance, of the friends I knew best.