I just grabbed breakfast with a friend, who also works in the Social Media trenches, and it wasn’t long before we found ourselves nodding vigorously in agreement that “the lawyers are getting worse.”
In my humble opinion, the bigger a brand is, the more it can and should invest in lawyers who MAXIMIZE their ability to be adaptable to market conditions.
Instead we find that bigger brands’ legal eagles are doing their best to muzzle the company’s own evangelists.
It shouldn’t take 3–5 days to approve a tweet.
It shouldn’t take a week to approve a comment on an external blog.
It should be allowable to post a perfectly appropriate twitpic.
It should be allowable to re-share content that outside consumers have themselves proactively shared across their social graphs: If a consumer tweets a photo of themselves holding the brand’s top product (“Here I am with my SuperWidget! I love this thing!”), it should not require special dispensation to RT that photo with a simple, “Thanks for your support! We love it too!”
If the brand has hired outside consultants or has paid relationships with bloggers or other Word-of-Mouth evangelists, it should be perfectly OK for those folks to re-share public announcements by that brand. My friend told me that despite his publicly-disclosed relationship with a large tech brand, they disallowed him from re-tweeting one of their own (positive, public) posts. The phrase, “WTF?” comes to mind.
Bizarrely, in my experience this is getting worse, not better. In the early days of Social Media, more often than not we ran across some perfectly reasonable lawyers. I am not sure whether that was because they didn’t quite grok it in the first place, or because early social evangelists were perhaps more dogged in their demands, or because those earlier-days legalistas were so comfortable with brand standards that they saw no harm in sharing content developed by trusted brand insiders. In any case, as Social Media has professionalized, so, it seems, have the watchdogs.
It’s kinda making things difficult. And boring.
And that’s my Monday morning vent.
Posted on: March 19, 2012 at 12:51 pm By Todd Defren