Westchester NY Social Media Marketing Agency Ruby Media Group was recently featured in 914 INC. Magazine’s “Social Media Playbook” feature article. Click here to read the full article!
Westchester NY Social Media Marketing Agency Ruby Media Group was recently featured in 914 INC. Magazine’s “Social Media Playbook” feature article. Click here to read the full article!
NY Social Media Marketing Agency Founder Kris Ruby of Ruby Media Group was recently featured in the October print edition of Real Estate Forum/ Globe St. In the feature article on personal branding for commercial real estate executives, Ruby shared expert insights the state of personal branding for commercial real estate executives. You can read the full interview here. If you are unable to open the link, here are some personal branding tips for commercial real estate executives. The article can be found in the 2017 Real Estate Forum Magazine October issue titled “ABC’s of Commercial Real Estate: Building Your Brand”
What is personal branding?
Personal Branding is a way of differentiating your value proposition from other competitors in the market. Ideally, your personal brand would stand out from others in the commercial real estate industry and separate you by what makes you most unique. For example, in commercial real estate, are you branded as a keynote speaker? As a leader in the regional real estate market? As an early adopter of social media in real estate? As the Snapchat leader for real estate executives? Or, is your brand defined by the continued content you byline in Forbes as well as trade publications? All of these attributes can factor into a strong personal brand.
How long does it take a commercial real estate executive to build a personal brand?
Building a personal brand of a commercial real estate executive does not come out of thin air. Fundamentally, the personal brand needs to be grounded in hard facts. You can’t just declare yourself an expert or real estate guru without having the success and properties to back it up. The first thing a journalist will ask for is to see your deal sheets and property fact sheets. If you are going to tout yourself as an expert and try to get coverage, you need to have all of these materials ready before you embark on your personal branding mission. You also need to make sure you have crafted your personal branding “story”— the entrepreneurial angle or human interest angle that differentiates you from every other real estate executive. Be sure to include a Q & A section as well. These materials are critical if you want to pitch outlets that could help support the development of your personal brand strategy. Do not even think about approaching a media outlet without having this ready to go. Real estate is also fiercely competitive. If you want to develop a personal brand in commercial real estate, you will need to state your opinion on what other developers are doing or building so it is clear where you stand. Neutrality and soft opinions don’t really hold up that well in this vertical. If you want to be branded, you can’t be afraid to speak. This definitely separates those who are trying to build brands from the ones who actually have.
Why is personal branding so important for commercial real estate executives?
Personal branding is critical for commercial real estate executives because it is essentially one of the only ways to separate yourself from the oversaturated market today. It used to be enough to invest in a good website and traditional sales tactics. Today, that is the very minimum that is required. Personal branding can include everything from influencer marketing, SEO, content marketing, traditional PR and more! People want to work with someone who has a strong personal brand that they have already encountered online before ever picking up the phone. They want to be consumed by several touch points of the brand or ‘person’ before speaking to them.
What are the challenges of personal branding for commercial real estate executives?
The biggest challenge of personal branding is defining a brand that is authentic to you as a business leader. Just because you see a real estate executive on television or doing frequent Facebook Lives with thousands of viewers doesn’t mean that is the most effective way to build your personal brand. You need to do what feels most comfortable to you instead of pushing too hard to fit in with what everyone else is doing. Another challenge of personal branding is setting your frequency limits for communication. If you want to be frequently communicating 24/7, you may need to have a team in place to help on the execution side of this including editorial, web, branding and SEO in addition to production.
What are some effective personal branding techniques and strategies for commercial real estate executives?
The most effective personal branding technique for commercial real estate executives would be crafting bylined content in national media outlets to attract a following. Commercial real estate execs could consider writing about market trends, industry insights or roundups from conferences. Another effective branding technique for commercial real estate execs is to incorporate in traditional Public Relations. A commercial real estate could discuss market trends on a national news show such as MSNBC or Bloomberg. They may also discuss a hot item in the news and their unique angle on it. Effective personal branding would be leveraging the segment through social media marketing including Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIN to promote the appearance. Another key component of a personal branding campaign for commercial real estate executives is publishing frequent content on LinkedIN pulse. The branding game for commercial real estate is long lead— it takes a while to develop the personal brand you desire but once you have it things will start snowballing from there, especially with media opportunities. If you are looking to develop a personal brand or get some of your properties in the news, you may also want to start following the commercial real estate writers on Twitter and liking or favoriting their tweets to get on their radar before you ever reach out to them. From my experience, it can take a commercial real estate executive several years before they start to see the traction they are looking for in regards to their personal branding campaign. However, it is worth it when things finally to start to pick up. It is important to note that a truly authentic personal brand is not built overnight.
Still unsure of how to develop a personal brand on social media? Click here for 10 ways 10 leverage social media in commercial real estate.
Securing press coverage for your business is a continual process. Pitching can take months before the media picks up your story. Often, business owners can be caught off guard when the media is interested in writing about them. Many DIY public relations guides teach businesses how to get their pitch picked up. But that is only half of the equation. If you don’t have the proper assets to give to the media when they are ready to interview you, you may be sabotaging your golden opportunity for coverage. Here are the top 10 ways I see founders sabotage themselves, along with how to prepare should the media come knocking.
Ruby Media Group is an award-winning NY Public Relations Firm and NYC Social Media Marketing Agency. The New York PR Firm specializes in healthcare marketing, healthcare PR and medical practice marketing. Ruby Media Group helps companies increase their exposure through leveraging social media and digital PR. RMG conducts a thorough deep dive into an organizations brand identity, and then creates a digital footprint and comprehensive strategy to execute against. Specialties include content creation, strategic planning, social media management, and digital public relations. RMG helps clients shine in the digital space by extracting their strengths, developing story ideas, and crafting compelling news angles to ensure journalists go to their clients first as story sources and thought leaders. Ruby Media Group creates strategic, creative, measurable targeted campaigns to achieve your organizations strategic business growth objectives.
NY Social Media Marketing Agency Owner Kris Ruby of Ruby Media Group was recently quoted in Brit + Co discussing how to make your social media profiles job search ready. Social Media Marketing is a critical component of your job search. Social Media can either help your job search or really hurt it. Taking the time to develop a personal brand and clean up your social media profiles can pay dividends in landing the perfect job. Below please find our top social media marketing tips for Job Seekers to keep in mind. Use these tips to ensure your Social Media marketing profiles are PC & Scandal Free!
Social Media Mistakes Job Seekers Need to Avoid
Not deleting Politically Charged Social Media Posts that could be seen as offensive- Landing a job is already challenging enough without adding politics into the mix. Your future boss may love you, but if they see a political post that goes against their political beliefs, it, unfortunately, could sway their opinion on your candidacy for the role. Call it unfair or even illegal, unfortunately, social media does come into play during the hiring process and it is here to stay.
Forgetting to update your social media privacy settings— expect that employers will most likely look up your social media during the interview process. You want social media to showcase the best possible version of you and to support what you are saying in your resume. Social media should add to your overall interview package- not take away from it.
Not Updating your Bio on Social Media Profiles- Your Bio on Instagram, LinkedIN and Twitter should reflect the role that you are seeking. Use this prime real estate to your advantage. For example, if you are seeking a luxury marketing job in Westchester, NY, your bio should say Luxury Marketing Specialist— Westchester NY not Fashion Marketing NYC. Create a profile for the job you want to get so that your brand matches up on every network to coincide with your resume. There should be no discrepancy between what you are saying you are passionate about vs. what can be found on your social media.
Forgetting that Instagram stories can be screenshotted– Even if your social media profiles are on lockdown, companies can be wise with having other millennial employees follow you and view your stories. Just because it disappears does not mean that someone hasn’t viewed it. Keep this in mind when searching for a job and be more cautious with what you put up in your Instagram story.
Personal Branding Tips for Job Seekers on Social Media
The job candidates who stick out are the ones who use social media to their advantage by developing a personal brand. Identify your most unique attributes and choose a niche area that you want to be an expert in to stand out from the competition. Also be sure to create a personal brand website with a portfolio for employers and recruiters to view your previous work. You should invest in a nice high-resolution headshot that can be used on all of your social media profiles. Do not use any old iPhone selfie shot— make sure it is professional!
Recruiters aren’t the only ones who will be looking at your social media profiles. Your potential colleagues will also be scoping you out on Instagram or Facebook! Here are 3 other ways to use your social media profiles to show you are a fun person to work with.
Show Hobbies- Do you volunteer? Do you love animals? What makes you tick? Your social media profiles should reflect that. For example, if you love animals and spend time volunteering on the weekends, this could actually help you in the interview process if the company you want to work for is very into animal rights and works with a rescue group.
Share Travel/Food photos- Do you travel often or love to eat out? One thing that 99% of people have in common is a love of great food and travel. If this is part of your life, showcase some of these images- it can show your colleagues that you enjoy being part of the vibrant downtown scene in your city and that you know what’s trendy.
Actively post on social media- Believe or not, many recruiters are fed up with the traditional recruiting channels and turn to social media to look for new candidates. Make sure you are active on Twitter and LinkedIN to increase visibility and get found. Your social media could actually be the reason you land a job, instead of the reason you don’t get the job!
Making sure your social media profiles are well branded is only half the battle. Social Media can also cost you your job if you misuse it after landing your dream job. Click here to read 10 WorkPlace Etiquette Mistakes You are Making on Social Media.
NY PR Firm Owner Kris Ruby of Ruby Media Group was recently featured in The Huffington Post describing her top entrepreneurial tips and journey over the past ten years in business. To read the full interview, click here
I had the pleasure to interview Kris Ruby, CEO of Ruby Media Group, a Leading New York Public Relations Firm and NYC Social Media Marketing Agency. Ruby is a sought after social media marketing strategist and PR consultant with 10+ years building successful brands. The New York PR Firm handles PR and social media for some of the top doctors in the tristate area. In addition to running a thriving social media & PR firm, Kris Ruby is also a trusted media source and frequent on-air commentator on social media marketing on the nation’s top TV shows.
Yitzi: Thank you so much for your time, Kris. I know that you are a very busy person. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
I went to Boston University’s College of Communication and majored in Public Relations. By the time I graduated, I had 13 internships in all different facets of the communications industry. I was also fortunate to have one of these internships lined up for full time work upon graduation. Within a few weeks, I realized I would never be able to work for anyone else and launched my own company. Ten years later, I never looked back. I will never understand corporate America or what it is like to have a steady paycheck, company covered health insurance or any of the perks of having stability of a “regular” job. However, I feel I would suffocate and not be able to do my best work if I ever worked full time in an organization. I love the freedom and flexibility to create that comes with being an entrepreneur. I don’t believe being an entrepreneur is a choice. It is fundamentally who you are, and ingrained in your personality. The concept of entrepreneurship is trendy right now, but it is not something to take lightly. It comes with massive responsibility and a lot of uncertainty. It can also come at the expense of other aspects of your life like a social life or a long-term relationship. For many people, the idea of constantly being in survival mode is extremely off putting. For me, I thrive under it and can’t imagine any other way.
Yitzi: How did you get involved in the PR industry?
I started Ruby Media Group in Westchester County, NY as a social media marketing agency. When I started the agency several years ago, social media was still new and most business owners needed assistance with how to leverage it to build their business. One of my social media clients, a retail store in Rye, NY, asked me to do PR for the launch of their new store. So, I basically had to teach myself PR and do it by trial and error. Other than what I knew from PR textbooks at BU and internship experience, the rest was on me to learn. The launch was a huge success, and we ended up receiving recognition and awards for the work my agency did. Word of mouth started to spread that we could offer public relations, and gradually our business shifted to incorporate a heavy amount of “social PR” in addition to regular social media marketing. Today, I think businesses really need a nice mixture of both in order to have the maximum reach in digital platforms.
Yitzi: What do you wish someone told you when you started?
I wish someone told me how important “soft skills” are in addition to having premium knowledge in your field. A breakdown in communications can lead to a “break up” in the agency client relationship. This was very difficult for me to learn because I always thought that knowledge was enough, and that soft skills were more critical in larger corporate environments. I tend to operate at 150 miles per hour and expect everyone around me to be at the same pace. I have had to learn the hard way to slow down a bit and that people have other things going on in their life besides their PR campaigns. Today, I now believe management skills are critical for everyone to learn- from solopreneur to the owner of a Fortune 500 company. A mistake I made and that many entrepreneurs make is that they don’t invest in these skills and instead opt to invest in things more critical like new technology to service clients. You can have the best technology in the world, but if there are breakdowns in communication, you will have no one to use the technology on. Turnover is not profitable, and neither is the cost of acquiring and training new talent. Effectively learning how to communicate is an essential skill for any agency owner or entrepreneur.
Yitzi: What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of the fact that I have done all of this on my own. I did not have outside investors and started my company with less than $500 in my bank account when I graduated college. I appreciate and recognize the hustle in others who have done the same. I am also proud of the fact that I have built a successful New York PR firm without going the traditional agency route. I believe that if I can do it anyone can do it who wants it badly enough. However, this does mean doing it all on your own, constantly learning new skills and troubleshooting problems.
Yitzi: Do you think the PR profession has changed over the past 30 years? How?
Absolutely! I believe that PR agencies that only offer traditional public relations will soon become obsolete. Securing press coverage is only one part of a comprehensive public relations campaign. I also believe that securing press hits isn’t necessarily what a client needs all the time. The best agencies are able to adapt to the business challenges a client has and offer them solutions around their pain points. Some months, that may mean content marketing, other months it may mean a heavy focus on digital. The one thing that is consistent is that only offering traditional PR will not satisfy a client for an extended period of time. The age-old question of ROI and “So what?” will soon come up, no matter how many national hits you get. That is why you need to diversify your offering to stay competitive. We offer clients a combination of content marketing, social media and digital PR. I also think the rise in so many new media platforms that connect journalists in real time to potential sources has changed the PR landscape. The method of offering journalists what they need in real time vs. pitching them on items they may or may not be working on is an infinitely more effective approach. We believe in “social PR” and optimized content that leads to conversions.
Yitzi: What drives you?
Seeing clients get media coverage! Or seeing a client’s new article perform very well and get hundreds of likes and impressions! For me, there is no greater feeling than that. For example, a plastic surgeon may look at a before and after of a patient and say “Wow, look at the amazing work!” For me, the equivalent of that is going on Google News, googling my clients, and seeing a solid page of national media outlets coming up for their name. Another example would be doing a before and after look at their Instagram grid to see the difference in branding. We have a strong focus in public relations for doctors, medical practices and physicians, so this would be the best analogy. I particularly like helping doctors receive recognition for the work they do in helping patients. The other fun part of all of this for me is that I get to learn medical information while promoting them. I am naturally interested in medicine and healthcare, so I feel very fortunate that I have the opportunity to work with and promote the brightest minds in medicine. It also helps me become a walking encyclopedia of random medical facts, which my family always finds amusing yet helpful at times!
Yitzi: Based on your personal experience, what advice would you give to young people considering a career in PR?
PR is not glamorous. It is not what you thought it was growing up watching “Sex and the City.” The majority of time, I am behind my computer answering numerous emails and responding to reporter requests. Also, you have to be really comfortable with rejection. If you want to work in an industry where everyone likes you or thinks you’re great, this is the wrong industry. You have to have really thick skin. I would also urge a young person interested in a career in public relations to start branding themselves. Finally, take advantage of internship opportunities to figure out what type of PR you like best. For example, fashion PR may be a better fit for someone who loves events and networking, whereas medical PR may be more ideal for someone who prefers being behind a computer.
Yitzi: You are known as one of the leading social media experts and have been on national television over 35 times. What advice can you give others who want to do the same?
Start local. When I started out, I lived in Westchester, NY and Greenwich,CT before ever doing a national TV hit. For 5 years, I woke up at 3 am and traveled an hour to WTNH in CT to do local TV hits. You need to build a base of television experience before approaching the larger networks. Also, if you want to be on TV, you should be publishing frequently and promoting your content on Twitter. That is how I got discovered and booked for my first TV appearance by a Producer who read my JDate article on why social media changed the dating landscape. I would also urge people to consider what it is they want to get out of being on TV. When people come to me about TV, I always ask why they want to be on. Usually, the response is flimsy, so I urge you to consider what your long-term goals are and how this fits in with it. I love being an on-air commentator and discussing the latest breaking news and how social media fits into it. However, I also have to balance this with being behind the scenes as a publicist.
Yitzi: Which skills do you think are most important to becoming a successful PR professional?
Perseverance and determination. My motto is, “Turn every no into a yes.”
Yitzi: You are in a position of influence. How have you used your position and skill to bring goodness to the world?
I try to give back by speaking with public relations students at universities. I find this very rewarding and love offering career advice to aspiring publicists. I would love to get more involved with mentoring aspiring publicists- perhaps I will create a program around this.
Yitzi: Do you believe location matters when starting a social media agency or PR agency?
No, absolutely not. Since staring Ruby Media Group, I have operated out of Westchester, NY, Greenwich, CT and even Wall Street. The most important thing that matters is a wifi connection and communication with the media and clients. I am pretty confident I could be successful running the company from Kentucky just as much as Wall Street. The most important part is to hone your craft and focus on results. Results infinitely trump location. I wish more people knew this before packing up and thinking they need to be in NYC to make it in this industry. It is a myth!
Yitzi: Thank you so much Kris! It has been a pleasure to learn about your entrepreneurial journey in the PR world!
Didn’t get what you expected from your last Social Media Marketing campaign? Here’s why.
You have invested a great deal of your marketing budget and valuable time in social media marketing, but you may not be getting the return on investment (ROI) you hoped for. You’ve read about other businesses who are thriving on Twitter, attracting customers from Pinterest and Instagram and making money from targeted Facebook ads, but yours isn’t one of them. Before you pull the plug on your social media marketing campaign, take time to review what is and isn’t working and refine your strategy. When trying to assess what works, be sure not to skip over the basics. Review the following key areas every quarter. Not paying attention to some of these very simple rules could be the reason why your campaigns are tanking every month. Remember to invest in a social media marketing strategy up front, before engaging in social media, to avoid making critical mistakes.
You don’t know who your target audience is: First, do you really know who your customers are? Are they teens, young millennials or baby boomers? Mostly men or women? The content that you put up on social media should be of interest to your customers, but you need to know who they are first. If you’re unsure, spend some time researching who is buying your product or services and who is engaging with your content. If you don’t have a crystal-clear idea of who your buyer persona is, your Facebook advertising campaign will also under perform.
You never look at analytics: What content is performing the best with your target audience? Do they like images, video or long form content best? Out of the content you created, what generated the highest share count? If your followers love to engage with pictures, but do not seem interested in back-and-forth discussion, Instagram may be a better choice. Measure the shareability then tweak accordingly. Also, be sure to dig deeper than basic Facebook insights. Familiarize yourself with Google Search Console and Google Analytics. Review how much traffic is being driven from social media back to your website, and look at the sources that are driving inbound leads to your site.
You spread yourself too thin: Are you spending hours filtering photos for Instagram and seeing little to no results? Your target clientele may not be active users on Instagram. According to studies, the average American spends roughly 40 minutes per day on Facebook. This may be a ripe opportunity that you have completely looked past if you are more focused on Instagram or Snapchat. You need to find out where your customers are and then focus on the social media networks that perform best with your prospects. For example, your target clientele might want six-second Snapchat videos verses long YouTube videos. Do not spread yourself thin just to make sure you are “everywhere.”
You create boring content: Is your content even shareable? For example, you want your customers to know what a great staff you have and you are posting office photos daily. While customers care about customer service, if they are not sharing or commenting on these photos, stop posting them. Instead, try focusing on the benefits of your products and services and provide tips or articles that help your customers live better lives. Stop wasting time creating content that your customers are not engaging with. Rule of thumb: if you wouldn’t share the content you are creating, stop creating it. If you can’t personally see yourself even giving it a measly like, why would someone else like it?
You don’t respond: Are you tweeting out questions and not responding when your customers answer? Do your followers tweet and tag you, but you don’t interact with them? According to Entrepreneur Magazine, almost half of the millennial segment — and one in three consumers overall — say they are influenced by social media and use it to make purchasing decisions. Customers build relationships with companies through social media, so you need to take time and respond to them. If they do not see that you are responding, they will leave you behind in the social media dust.
But really, the number one reason why your social media campaign bombed? Because you are inconsistent. Social media is a daily practice. You have to post consistently to build an audience and get results. One hit wonders don’t do very well on social media. You can’t post religiously for two weeks and then ghost your followers for two months. Your audience won’t build up trust in your brand and won’t rely on you to provide consistent, steady content. Lack of consistency is the number one reasons most social media campaigns do not take off. Occasionally, small businesses with mediocre content will perform far better than large-scale agency campaigns simply because they post daily and put themselves out there. Half the battle is consistently using the technology and engaging with your audience. Devoting time daily to your presence on social media is a must in order to grow your followers and succeed. Without it, you will perpetually be in a failure-to-launch phase. Even the most expensive New York social media marketing agencies won’t be able to help you if you are not committed to consistently creating new content and measuring the performance.
How is Instagram Stories similar to Snapchat? Which social media platform is better for a medical practice?
Instagram stories is similar to Snapchat because it enables you to share the best “live” feed moments of your day through photos and videos. You can also add in location, tag other accounts and even draw on your photos. Regarding which is better for medical practices, that depends on where you have already built a patient base. For example, if you already have 1,000 active followers on your business account on Instagram, then it makes more sense to leverage Instagram stories for greater visibility. However, if you have 5,000 people following you on Snapchat, then more people will see your live Snaps then on Instagram stories. Use the live streaming features of the platform you already have an established following on. Instagram stories makes more sense than Snapchat for medical practices because anyone can publicly see them- you don’t need to add someone as a connection to view the story.
How can doctors make the most of these new social media changes to grow their Instagram followers?
Physicians can make the most of these changes by integrating live streaming into their daily business practices. It is no longer enough to just post aesthetically pleasing photos on Instagram or Snapchat. If you are skipping out on live streaming, you are missing out on the entire social media experience of what fans are expecting to see from your account if they follow you. Furthermore, as more of these networks experiment with new features, there is a tremendous opportunity to be one of the first to start using them before everyone else figures out how to. This means more eyeballs on your services- for a cosmetic surgeon or someone in aesthetics, this can be substantial.
What are some other ways medical practices can increase their Instagram followers and engagement?
Medical Practices can increase their Instagram following through planning out their Instagram “grid” of photos a week or two before they ever post anything. This will help to establish a solid brand aesthetic, which is important to their potential followers. If someone is thinking about following them, the first thing they will do is look at their last 9 photos. If they look disjointed and unbranded, someone is unlikely to follow them. The next way medical practices can increase their Instagram following is through leveraging influencers. For example, if you are a top doctor in Westchester County, you should reach out to the blogger/influencer in your town that everyone goes to for advice. Even if that influencer isn’t looking for a specific medical treatment you offer, they may have a writer who is- invite them in to experience a new procedure and have them post photos and live stream their experience. Then, regram their posts from your practices page- this will help to increase followers as you will pick up some of their followers in your geographic location- which is highly targeted and can have a high conversion rate. A third way to increase followers and engagement is to start following the hashtags in your industry and town and comment on those photos. Like them, favorite them- leave comments to show you are engaged. You can also DM (direct message) potential followers to strike up a conversation, as long as it isn’t salesy or spammy! We also recommend tagging other accounts in each Instagram post to increase followers. This will display the photo on the “tagged” section of their Instagram page. Potential patients interested in finding a doctor will look there first.
How can medical practices repurpose existing content for Instagram posts?
One of the best ways to repurpose existing content for Instagram posts is to regram photos of patients who have posted photos at your office. This is often an underutilized part of a medical practices Instagram strategy.
What are some other tips to consider when building out a healthcare social media marketing strategy for my practice on Instagram?
Tip: Strategically Hashtag. Do not make the mistake of only hashtagging industry related keywords. This does not help potential patients find you- and only helps others within your industry find you- which won’t expand your digital footprint or increase followers if you are looking for leads on Instagram. For example, if you are a NYC Surgeon, hashtagging #surgeon #Doctor #medical does not necessarily help those find you who may be looking for solutions to their health-related problems. Hashtagging keywords related to what potential patients would search for is a better strategy.
Tip: Leverage Instagram stories. Because anyone on Instagram can view your story, you are much more likely to be seen by potential new patients than you are on Snapchat, where you have to manually add someone to view their content. Instagram stories is a great opportunity to be found by more people- be sure to include your handle and use the hashtag feature within the story as well as adding your location. This will help your business account get picked up in large stories such as the Instagram “New York Story.”
Tip: Add video to your content. This may seem pretty obvious, but the majority of NY Physicians still opt to post regular, static based photos on Instagram instead of videos. If you really want to become an influencer or dramatically increase your followers, you need to invest in video production. The people that are most successful on Instagram are leveraging video and basically have their own TV channels on Instagram. Give people a reason to tune into you.
Tip: Do not share your Instagram posts to every other channel. This is a big mistake medical practices make on Instagram to save time. They connect their Instagram account to Facebook and every other social media channel. However, Facebook will actually rank these posts lower in your feed because they prefer to see posts directly shared on their platform. What your practice posts on Instagram should not be the what it posts on Twitter or LinkedIN. You need to diversify content instead of mass posting to all of the other channels.
Tip: Comment on others posts. One of the best ways to grow your medical practices Instagram account is to comment and like others posts. This is a better approach than mass following hundreds of accounts and unfollowing everyone that doesn’t follow you. Spend more time engaging with the content you like and the followers will organically come.
Westchester NY Public Relations Firm Owner Kris Ruby of Ruby Media Group “Face of Social Media & Media Relations” in Westchester Magazine.
Westchester County, NY Social Media Firm Agency Owner Kris Ruby of Ruby Media Group was recently on Fox 5 NY discussing emoji culture. Click here to watch the segment
Social media seems like fun and games—until it isn’t. There are many legal mistakes that small business owners make daily on social media. Most of the time, they are lucky enough to get away with them. But as the FTC continues to crack down on influencer marketing and sponsored posts, more people are paying attention to what they are posting. If your social media agency isn’t trained in the legal ramifications of social media activity, you can still be held liable if the posting is done from your account. I spoke with three leading social media attorneys for a rundown on the legal mistakes you are making on social media and how to avoid them.
1. Not understanding copyright law. Photographs are protected by copyright law, but it is often difficult to ascertain who owns the copyright to the photograph. Is it the photographer? The person who posted the photograph? Or the person shown in the photograph? It could be any of the above. New York-based Advertising Law attorney Kyle-Beth Hilfer says user-generated content from consumers can expose a company to legal liability for embedded intellectual property infringement. “When using photographs on Instagram for commercial purposes, the poster should make sure that it has the proper licenses to the photograph. This is easy if you’ve taken the photograph yourself and post it directly to your own account. It’s often more difficult to ascertain who owns the copyright to a photograph that you are taking from elsewhere. You also want to make sure that you have appropriate releases from anyone shown in the photograph so their rights of privacy/publicity are not violated.”
2. Regramming without attribution. Thinking of regramming a photo a customer took at your restaurant? Be sure to provide proper regram credit and attribution. “Regramming a photo with attribution may be acceptable, but it may not. If there is a creative commons license attached to the photo that allows for use with attribution, that’s great. But more often, the content on Instagram isn’t sourced by these apps with this in mind. Giving attribution mitigates against copyright infringement damages, but it doesn’t completely solve the problem,” says Hilfer. She adds that brands using Instagram should also develop internal content curation guidelines that account for risk in a variety of different categories.
3. Failure to properly disclose influencer marketing campaigns. Business owners should be aware of recent FTC guidance urging transparency on Instagram. In April, the FTC sent over 90 letters to companies, celebrities and other social media users reminding them of the legal requirements for clarity in influencer marketing. According to Hilfer, endorsers must disclose their material connections to the brand. The federal agency offered specific guidance on how to do that. For example, any disclosure should be placed before the “more” button since many consumers will not click through. In addition, the FTC warned that certain kinds of hashtags would not be clear disclosures. Marketers should work with their legal teams to ensure that influencers, whether they be employees or third parties, make proper disclosures on Instagram and any other social media platform. Penalties for violating FTC guidelines have ranged from $20-$50,000 with a range of other requirements for compliance. The FTC can pursue legal action against both the brand and the influencer.
4. Improper formatting of sponsored posts. The FTC has cracked down on influencer marketing campaigns, including the exact formatting of these posts. According to Hilfer, the mere presence of a disclosure may not be enough to satisfy the FTC. If the post contains multiple hashtags, links or tags, you must separate the legal disclosures to make sure they are clear and conspicuous. “If an influencer includes ‘Thanks [Brand]’ or #sp or #partner, these notations may not clearly indicate to the consumer that the post is sponsored. You have to put yourself in the mindset of the consumer seeing the post,” said Hilfer. While the FTC has been clear that there are many acceptable ways to make disclosures, it explains that any term that has many interpretations will not provide the appropriate clarity.
5. Assuming your social media agency understands legal. Your social media agency is probably amazing at the creative work they do. But unless they have substantially invested in legal training, chances are they are not well versed in what could get your business in hot water. It is incumbent upon brands to make sure they are working with agencies who are cognizant of the law. For example, if a mistake is made on your company’s social media, is it clearly outlined that the agency will take the legal and financial responsibility for the risk? Or are you assuming the risk? “Not having appropriate contracts when working with third party content creators is one of the biggest mistakes I see,” says Social Media Attorney Ruth Carter of Venjuris. “In many cases, unless the contract states otherwise, the creator retains ownership of the copyright in their work, and if the hiring party wants to acquire it, they will likely have to pay for it. Additionally, I recommend that the hiring party have an indemnification clause to protect them if they are accused of intellectual property infringement or other wrongdoing because of the content provided by the third-party creator.”
6. Fake testimonials. Testimonials are great for building trusted authority as an expert. However, they can also land you in hot water with regulators who are watching out for fake testimonials on social media. According to Hilfer, “State attorney generals are enforcing laws against this practice, known as astroturfing. In New York, fines resulting from such investigations have been up to $50,000. In one case, the state settled for $100,000 with a brand that had instructed its ad agencies to post fake reviews online. Influencer marketing can have expensive legal ramifications for a brand if done improperly.”
7. Not reading the terms of service. For any social media platform, check the rules in their terms of service. The legal ramifications vary on each social platform. Many social media sites’ TOS state that you agree to only post images for which you own the copyright or for which you have permission to post. “The terms may state that by posting an image, you give other users permission to share the image on their profiles on that platform (ex. sharing on Facebook.) If you want to use the image of another person in your Facebook ad campaign, be sure to familiarize yourself with the applicable state laws on a person’s rights to publicize their image,” said Carter.
8. Reusing someone else’s license to a purchased stock photo. You found the image you were about to purchase on iStock through Google images (for free!). You directly pull the image onto your desktop and upload it into your content queue for the week. However, this mistake can be costly. According to Carter, you can only use images that you’ve received permission from the copyright holder, either directly or via a license like Creative Commons. “For iStock photos, read the license the person purchased. Your use must comply with the limits of that license. If your third-party creator bought the license, make sure it allows you to use it without having to buy your own license. Many of the agreements between independent contractors and the hiring party state that the contractor isn’t the company’s agent, so they can’t make purchases for the company. Unless the license for the image is transferable, the company has to buy their own license unless the terms of the license state that the agent’s license is sufficient,” says Carter. If you want to use an iStock image, buy your own license and avoid the risk.
9. Not having an internal social media policy. As personal branding and social media become more ingrained in our society, it is imperative to have a social media policy and a promotional clause as part of your employment agreements. For example, if your employee is promoting herself as an expert in the same line of work that you are in, is this a conflict of interest or is it acceptable? If the employee is using social media (LinkedIn) to pursue outside job opportunities while on the clock, are you protected? If the employee builds a substantial following on social media while working for your organization, who owns the rights to this fan base? Many business owners don’t anticipate these issues, and the hiring and firing surrounding these issues can often result in wrongful termination lawsuits. Adam Katz, an employment law and commercial litigation attorney at Golderg Segalla, says that most employers don’t realize they can be held liable if they terminate employees for certain posts and social media activity pertaining to salary and other work conditions. “An employee can bring a lawsuit for wrongful termination and discrimination if they believe they were fired for something that a supervisor saw on social media but otherwise would not have known.” Katz emphasizes that employers need carefully tailored social media policies that limit a supervisor’s social media activity with employees. “A good policy will state that while employees are allowed to associate themselves with the company when posting, they must clearly brand their online posts as purely their own. Additionally, the policy should make provisions for reviews and editorial rights of all posts or blog entries that reference or pertain to the business of the company. The social media policy should also prohibit employees from using derogatory words and racial slurs and from divulging confidential company information such as design plans, internal operations and legal matters,” says Katz.
10. Pulling content from Google Images. Many small business owners do not have subscriptions to iStock or Shutterstock, so they pull whatever they can find from Google Images. However, Google Images is not a free library. This mistake can be extremely costly. Not only will you incur legal fees if the originator of the content decides to come after you, you also may be liable for treble damages under copyright law. “Possession does not yield copyright ownership. There is no 10 percent or 20 percent rule that allows one to take a certain percent of content and use it without a license. This is particularly the case for commercial purposes. The fair use defense requires significant legal analysis. It may not be available, depending on the facts of each case,” explains Hilfer.
11. Not budgeting for legal recourse. Posting on social media may be free, but paying the fees associated with a lawsuit spurned by social media gone wrong is anything but that. According to the experts, social media lawsuits can cost small business owners upwards of $100,000. Many small business owners do not budget for the cost of an attorney if something goes awry with their marketing campaign. “Suing for infringement is complicated, and you have to be ready to front the costs of litigation, even if you’re in a situation where you are likely to be awarded attorney’s fees if you win. If the other side doesn’t have money, you may never collect, and you still have to pay your lawyer. For many people, sending a cease and desist or a DMCA takedown notice is the more effective and cost efficient way to proceed,” says Carter.
12. Making employees promote your company on their personal social media profiles. As a small business owner, your employees are a critical component of your social media strategy. After all, the millennial in your office has way more Facebook friends than you and can definitely increase engagement on your posts, right? Wrong! According to Carter, there is a big difference between making content available for employees to post on their social media profiles if they want to and requiring them to do so. Carter explains, “The former may be permissible; the latter is not. Review the terms of the social media platform where you want employees to promote the company. The platform may forbid people to use their personal accounts to promote a business.” Next time you want to terminate an employee for not complying with your request to promote the business on social media, understand they may be able to bring up an actionable claim against you. If they suspect they are being asked to violate the terms of the platform, they can report their employer to their state’s Department of Labor or the Attorney General’s Office.
13. Running a social media sweepstakes without legal clearance. Everyone loves to win a prize, and involving your followers on social media in spreading the word about your product is great publicity. But running a sweepstakes or contest on social media without understanding the legal issues can cause big problems. In fact, sweepstakes and contests consistently rank in the FTC’s annual top ten list of consumer complaints. And regulators are watching how brands implement them closely. Hilfer explains, “Social media sweepstakes raise legal issues with gambling and lottery laws. Often, brands forget about drafting rules. Or they take form rules that don’t cover them adequately. Refer a friend, text to enter, public judging: all these mechanisms have legal implications that can make your giveaway illegal.” In addition, even if you’ve done everything correctly to set up the promotions structure and draft rules, your marketing messages promoting the game can still get you in trouble. The FTC has numerous guidelines that affect how you spread word about your prize promotion, and the various state attorneys general enforce state laws that mirror the federal rules. According to Hilfer, “You will want your marketing teams advertising and promotion of the game to match up with the legal rules. This often means crafting disclosures in space-constrained posts. Ideally, marketing teams will plan ahead and work hand in hand with legal counsel to pre-approve messages.”
Don’t assume you understand the legalities of social media. Read the applicable terms of service and work with an attorney to understand the legal ramifications before clicking post.
Kris Ruby is the CEO of Ruby Media Group, a Public Relations and Social Media Agency. Kris Ruby is a frequent on air TV commentator and speaks on social media, tech trends and crisis communications. For more information, visit www.rubymediagroup.com or www.krisruby.com