Happy Monday sweet friends!! A few weeks ago, I released my first Social Media Etiquette Blog Post about Copyright and Crediting. I received tremendous feedback along with really great questions via email and instagram DM's! This has officially kicked off a series I will be doing for all of you regarding Business & Growth for your creative and entrepreneurial endeavors. In this series, I will be providing answers to your weekly questions as it relates to best practices in the industry, social media do's and don'ts, how to's in creating an authentic and strong visual brand along with my quick photography expert tips and tricks. My ethos behind The New Southern is to bring light into your life and into your home through my collaborations while also being a resource for your own creative prosperity. This is a community where we can connect, share ideas, while focusing on living our best life with the things we have. I hope you enjoy and please feel free to use this as a resource. Let us all live from a place of love this week, further embrace our community, and be a light of support for ourselves and others. Xx
Q: How do you deal with problem clients on social media?
AR: First, at the beginning of any relationship it is important to communicate expectations of the business and social media for both parties. Second, listening twice as much as we speak is a good rule of thumb when navigating tough conversations. Third, re-convey intentions.. most intentions are very good and can sometimes get lost if emotions are running high. This is an opportunity to recalibrate, develop curiosity and understand what needs to happen next…AKA: clarifying expectations, reiterating contractual obligations and identifying the disconnect. Client selection is another important component. It is vital to speak the same professional language and to come from a place where both parties are supportive and on the same team. I rarely run into issues now with clients but earlier in my career, I had a few difficult clients who were repeatedly in breach of contract. As a result, I let my legal team take over when behaviors are less than constructive or rooted out of fear to preserve my work flow and creative energy.
Q: What do you personally do when a brand or publication uses your work without credit and you reach out but they don’t respond?
AR: Brands and publications are receiving your images from somewhere. Identify the source and educate the source and your clients that all 3rd party requests should be handled through the rights owner of the image (refer to my copyright post for further information on this).
- Brand Scenario: Are they selling product through the image?
They legally cannot do this without authorization or a licensing agreement from you, They will need a licensing agreement and fee in place from the rights owner of the image which 99% of the time is the photographer. At this point, you may back invoice the brand for image use and send them an agreement or you may request for them to kindly remove the image as the rights owner.
- Brand Scenario: Are they using the image for inspiration?
Thank them and ask kindly and privately for them to photo credit your copyrighted image. This is often an oversight and they fix this immediately!
- Print Publication:
This is rare as most professional and national outlets understand and do their due diligence for sources. Educate your talented clients about the process and ensure there are open lines of communication when opportunities present themselves. I have only run into this issue when ex clients refused to credit even with the understanding that they were not the rights owner.
- Online Publication:
Ask kindly and privately for them to photo credit your copyrighted image. This is often an oversight and they fix this immediately! Also, although I am the rights owner, I also request for online publications to additionally design credit as I continue to champion my clients.
- If all private and kind attempts fail: Delegate to an attorney. Bless it, release it and let your attorney handle it. Xx
Q: How do you balance business associates as both clients and friends?
AR: I believe in having a "blended life" over a "balanced life". My professional and personal life are literally all in one. One of the biggest blessings is being able to work with those you love and this has been such a gift for me. No balance needed, just respect and love required.
Q: How have you handled a broken agreement or people using your images without consent?
AR: 99.5% of the time this is innocent and unintentional. I very simply and kindly ask for whatever was breached to be corrected. I prefer a quick phone call or email. If the client is a repeat offender, I have my attorneys handle it to communicate the process and the legal obligations that were originally agreed upon.
Q: What are your thoughts on businesses copying your every move on social media? How do you handle it?
AR: I say this with a half smile, but get used to it! If you are doing something interesting and cool, people are going to copy you! It is a little annoying at first but this is the reality. Second, do not give it any life. Third, it is a sign that you are doing something right so...congratulations and continue to pave YOUR OWN CREATIVE path!!! Legally protect your business from the beginning, take it as a compliment and do not let it kill your mojo. I put blinders on for this very reason. This used to get me down, especially when I saw this behavior from those in my own community or who I personally know. I handle it by truly wishing them well from an emotional perspective. I understand there is room enough for everyone to succeed and those who are successful and personally fulfilled are the ones who are creating from a place within themselves and paying respect to those who have inspired them.
THE "DO’s + DON’TS"
Do: GIVE PHOTO CREDIT ANd Design Credit (Pinterest is not a source)
Photo credit is industry standard. There are two major events that simultaneously take place when a photographer clicks his/her shutter:
- A copyrightable work is instantly created; AND
- The photographer is deemed the exclusive owner of the copyright of that photo.
Although I own the rights to the work, I intentionally give credit to every designer I post on my feed. I think it’s so important to give credit where credit is due and I believe that there is room for absolutely everyone to be successful. For more on copyright, please refer to the first blog post in this series HERE.
BEST PRACTICES: Simple Recipe for Success (And if you’re unsure...just ask!)
Ask yourself, "Did I take this image?" If no…
Credit the photographer in the main comment + tag in the image.
Credit the designer in the main comment + tag in the image.
Credit the source (if a national editorial outlet) in the main comment + tag in the image.
Don’t: COPY OR STEAL
Y’all — ignorance is not a defense. Designer’s put so much work into designing a space. We collaborate for months leading up to a shoot, and then my team and I spend countless hours editing and prepping an image. So, in saying this. . .please and with love do not post work that isn’t your own without credits. Do not screen grab images to sell product on your feed without proper licensing agreements in place. Please do not apply filters to work that you do not own. If you are a content creator or photographer, please do not "duplicate" or make a derivative copy from another photograph that is not your own (this is illegal). If you are not the photographer or copyright holder, do not distribute images to 3rd parties that you do not have the authority to distribute without the permission of the copyright holder.
Curiosity and educating yourself with the law is key. It takes time but if you come from a place of wanting to learn, there will always be someone willing to help — I promise. I have had it all happen and none of it feels great. I have seen my work on E! News without my team’s authorization because the person providing the materials pleaded ignorance as their defense and ignored or was dishonest about obtaining media clearance. I have had two photographers copy my images / galleries per frame which is called copyright infringement and derivative work. My logo has been copied numerous times and I have seen my galleries in foreign print magazines because old clients took matters into their own hands. Much of this behavior, I believe is rooted from a lack base mentality... and fear from the individuals behaving this way. Everyone can win at the same time and it is so important to opperate from a place of love over judgement and competition. This mentality will help navigate the business while still maintaining healthy and collaborative relationships.
BEST PRACTICES: SPEND TIME DOING THE DUE DILIGENCE IN TRACKING SOURCES. ALSO, EMBRACE A TRANSPARENT COMMUNICATIVE BUSINESS MODEL FOR YOU AND YOUR CLIENTS WHERE THE GOAL IS FOR EVERYONE TO WIN AND SUCCEED.
Do: CONSIDER POSTING WORK THAT IS YOUR OWN
I love helping other businesses grow and my number one rule of thumb is this — be consistent, be authentic and invest in producing your own content. My focus has never been on the number of followers but on building a community through genuine connection, grounding myself in producing authentic work that I am proud of on a daily basis. This was the case when I first started out and still holds true to this day. I encourage being inspired by other accounts, I encourage you to dive in deep and figure out what you love and don’t love. But, most importantly, I encourage you to produce content authentic to you and your business. People want to see what YOU can do, what YOUR personality is, WHO you are and WHAT YOU are working on. It is a mistake for businesses starting out to consistently pull content they themselves did not create. My account has turned into a resource of both inspiration and aspiration for many but at the core it is a place for me to celebrate my collaborations and challenge my own growth by being authentic and innovative everyday. For my quick styling and photography tips click HERE with Dering Hall.
BEST PRACTICES: Put blinders on to what others are doing and do the real work for your businesses. Invest in photography and if funds are limited — the best camera you have IS THE ONE IN YOUR HAND aka Your phone. Share the projects you are working on, share what is inspiring you, share your latest install or big win, share your biggest learning lesson from the week. If you are going to put content out there, have it be a true reflection of your business and brand. Let it also be a resource and add substance for others.
Don’t: COMPLY WITH LARGE BRANDS' HASHTAGS WITHOUT READING THE FINE PRINT IF YOU DO NOT OWN THE IMAGE. *** This is a new ONe.
These days there are lots of large commercial companies asking if it is okay to regram images by complying with their designated hashtag. This hashtag is essentially a loop-hole for free marketing material to sell product (where a license and fee need to be in place upon use). Although it is great exposure, make sure you are getting permission from the copyright holder before reposting with another commercial company's hashtag. Essentially, a large brand's “hashtag” is an agreement to their terms and conditions which typically states that they now have the rights to use and sell this image basically for free. Professional photographers make a living on licensing deals with larger brands — i.e. if a company wants to use my image to sell lights, then we work out a licensing agreement and they essentially lease the image from me to market their product. As a photographer, I have a full legal team in place to review contracts for myself and my clients when things pop up. So, if you have not thoroughly read the terms and conditions affiliated with these hashtags or get permission from the rights-holder, someone else’s photos are being passed around for free!
BEST PRACTICES: Read the terms and conditions of the "hashtags" and my usual response is this, “Thank you so much for your interest in my copyrighted image and collaboration. I AM HAPPY TO give you the right to use as inspiration on social media with photo credit and design credit. THank you again and please let me know if you would like to use the image for marketing purposes.” And of course. . .READ READ READ the fine print!
Do: UTILIZE HASHTAGS TO TARGET YOUR AUDIENCE
I am a Hashtag Hoe (sorry Mom!). Seriously though…Think of hashtags as buckets. We are able to utilize a quantity of 30 buckets, “hashtags”, to intentionally place your brand. Research the hashtags that you love and feel authentic to your brand. Start putting your work in those buckets. Again, the internet is at SCALE and a great place to grow an authentic community.
Don’t: SHAME or BE A TROLL
For those of us who are the creators of the content — it’s important that we are recognized for our work, wherever it may land. I have been called names, blocked, been made fun of, and publicly harassed over asking for photo credit.. This goes back to what I learned in pigtails and kindergarten which is to play nice in the theoretical, digital sandbox so to speak. You can learn so much about an account by its tone and crediting standards. We are all responsible for setting a tone of support and connection here and my goal through both my photography and #TheNewSouthern is to always be a destination of love, support, mindfulness, and a resource to inspire your home and your soul. The world is a better place when we check the egos at the door, recognize the humanity in others, and operate from a place of love!
BEST PRACTICE: I encourage us all to Operate from a place of love and utilize social media not as a place of comparison, rather from a place of unity and connection.
Do: GROW AUTHENTICALLY
... AND PLEASE DO NOT PAY FOR FOLLOWERS!!! This is such a bizarre concept to me and the quickest way I can tell if we will be internet friends or do business together. If you pay for followers or hire a “marketing company” to like, unlike, or artificially inflate your account, then these fake accounts are ultimately missing the gift of an authentic and engaging community. I can’t tell you all enough how much each and everyone of you mean to me and inspire me Daily! I have made incredible friendships through this community, I have learned about many of your touching stories, I am connected to you all in a way that adds substance to my day. I am grateful for your unyielding support and love!!! This community is a true gift and cannot be bought.
HOW TO TELL WHEN SOMEONE IS PAYING FOR FOLLOWERS:
Look at the account's individual followers, Look at the account's likes versus follower ratio. If an account is averaging 30 likes per image and has 10k followers or 80 likes and has 20k followers — this is low engagement and the account is most likely purchasing followers. My account is authentic and I wouldn't have it any other way. Plus, people who pay for followers are also spamming their true followers with bots…
BEST PRACTICES: Simple: Grow naturally and with a community driven focus. I encourage Building a business organically and staying authentic to the company's vision! Your business and account are about providing value to your clients and community. When used as a form of community and connection, social media has the capacity to be a great unifier and truly a beautiful place.
- Release the FEAR today. Choose Love and GIVE Love...
- Remember your why.
Feel free to share this as a resource. Sending you all much light and love!