Wisdom Wednesdays: Social Media is the Buzz … But do we Always Know About the Sting?

by Beth Nelson Chase

I have literally come across the divide, cutting my teeth entering data on a DOS based computer system during my music therapy/social service days with Lutheran Social Services of Illinois in the last century, to truly embracing Facebook, texting, tweeting and linking to people and places around the world in ways never before dreamed possible!

Nelson Chase-BethOne of the most current concerns with social media and donor relations — but not always receiving much attention — is the protection of consumers.  Having tuned into a webinar to learn more about this (“Social Media and Events: Legal Knowledge Nonprofits Need to Know,” with Charlene Chronicles on Eventbrite), I listened halfheartedly to insurance coverage and contract tips, but my ears perked up on Facebook no-nos!  Take note of these several recent social media cases and especially the stringent regulations on Facebook …

It is a Facebook legal no-no to promote events or contests in this manner: “We will give away two tickets to (any event) for the best comments generated over the next hours, days, etc.”  In this case Facebook deleted that organization’s Facebook page and it will never have the opportunity to be represented on Facebook again … no appeal, no stay.  If an organization wishes to offer something in this way, Rafflecopter, a platform for giveaway items is the better option. Though we all wish to see more traffic, likes and shares on our Facebook pages and often generate these through a question, be careful what you ask.  Though Twitter may be less stringent in this form, it is wise to check out each social media platform’s guidelines.  Likewise you cannot announce winners for events or contests on Facebook or you will see the same result … no page!  But that is not currently the case with Twitter or on your own website.

YouTube is also moving toward consumer protection in both visual and music content.  We all know that in print publication it is necessary to have waivers or written permission for pictorial content and further parental/guardian permission of these for minors.  Recent crackdowns in this area have seen a number of uploads now banished.  Likewise you also need to obtain permission for the use of songs and recordings that seem to overwhelmingly accompany the picture slideshows.  One part of me thinks this will somehow curtail some of the most creative uploads that people have imagined, but the other side of me also knows that composers deserve their creative credit and rights!

As we tweet, the legalities are just beginning to form through case law, and much is yet to be written.  So stay tuned to the latest postings from all sources as we learn from connecting, linking and building relationships with our donors and supporters in all ways.

Beth Nelson Chase is Vice President for Bright Stars of Bethlehem in Mt. Morris, Ill.

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