Understanding FOIP and Copyright is part of the Social Media job
If you manage social media for your faculty or department representing MRU, your focus is probably on building relationships, engagement and customer service (rightly so). But to use social and online communities effectively you also need to be aware of how copyright and privacy laws affect your day to day activity so you don’t inadvertently get Mount Royal (or yourself) in trouble.
Be aware that each social media platform (Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter) has its own operating rules, each country and/or province or state can have different laws and your company may have its own policy – you need to have a general understanding of how these interact together and what the limits are to use social media specifically for Mount Royal University.
Photos, Videos and Privacy
Building relationships and online community means sharing posts, photos, videos across several social platforms – but is it always ok to share or use your audience’s photos videos, and comments?
At Mount Royal University we look to the Alberta Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIP) act to guide our photo and video usage of our students and entire MRU community. In the day to day of creating campaigns, communication and managing our social channels this translates to:
If the purpose is to share photos or videos we can do so without written consent. We retweet Twitpics, Vine or Instagram photos and video, we ‘like’ photos and videos on Instagram, we share Instagram photos and video on Facebook and we use Instagram photos as our Facebook Cover Photos all within the MRU social communities.
Tip: when you are using your audience’s photo or video make sure you give them credit with a ‘shout out’ or tagging them in your post – it is a courtesy plus they will most likely retweet or share because they are happy you used their photo or video.
Tip: before you retweet or share a photo or video (or anything!) make sure you actually look at it or watch it first – reposting is endorsement so make sure the content is appropriate for MRU.
If the purpose is to use our community’s photos to market our business we need written, signed permission for each and every photo. Students’ photos of their school experience is great to show prospective students what life at MRU is like, and in recent publications such as the Viewbook and print campaigns such as for Open House, we have used these pictures – but because this is an intentional marketing piece we received permission on each photo used.
Tip: when your audience posts a photo online it may seem like ‘implied consent’ because the internet is public, but your audience may not expect their photo to appear in magazine ads, bus ads, online ads looking like they represent or endorse your company. Fair usage is to think about what the audience expects to happen with their online photos.
Contests and collecting information
A common way to build your database of customer contacts is with Contests online where personal information is required to enter. Be aware that when you are actively collecting information on your audience online (name, email, phone, history etc.) you should consider posting what and how this collected information will be used and allow audiences to opt out if they choose. If you truly are interested in developing a community around your brand or business (you should) this step is a courtesy and helps you to communicate with those people that are actually interested in you.
Facebook contests are allowed back on your Page time line again, but remember, you are responsible and liable for issues that may come from a contest, not Facebook. Make sure you think through how your contest works from beginning to end and be sure to post right on the Contest:
- Eligibility to enter
- Dates and deadlines to enter
- Full contest rules including specifically how winners are chosen
- Disclaimer that you are responsible not Facebook for the contest
One area I am very aware of copyright is with videos, music and YouTube. YouTube has its own operating and copyright guidelines (sometimes they flag and pull your video for copyright sometimes they don’t, you can tag the artist name on your video and then a video can be ok) but these are not aligned with our university copyright guidelines. Copyright is a huge issue in an academic environment so even though YouTube has some allowances as a social platform, as a university we do not allow any copyrighted materials to be used in video as part of our organizational guidelines.
Tip: even though you may feel you understand what is acceptable ‘online’ or on specific platforms such as Twitter and YouTube, you need to understand how Mount Royal University Social Networking Guidelines apply.
Open House 2013
When describing the Mount Royal University experience to high school students we decided, why take it from us? The best way to see what student life is like, is from current MRU students! Instagram is still a social platform of choice of our students so we encouraged all students fall 2013 to use #mrulife to document their life on campus using Instagram pictures. MRU’s recruitment marketing publication, the Viewbook, featured a spread of our current students’ photos to show prospective students what life is really like complimented with an Open House advertising campaign that had an Instagram look and feel. We had an Instagram photo booth at Open House to tie it all together – prospective students could have fun while literally picturing their #mrulife. See a social snapshot at Open House Storify.
Say it With Video
Videos, when done well, are an engaging way to communicate and many at Mount Royal are making great use of this medium to share the MRU experience online. Some to mention:
Each year at the Alumni Legacy Awards, award winners are featured in videos produced by Media Services at MRU. The videos are professional, inspiring, humourous and insightful.
Calvin the Cougar shows off his cat like reflexes in this training video created by Cougar fans Colin Brandt and Brendan Greenslade. Calvin in Training
Responsabella and Sex Escapades is an amazingly creative video (part 1 of a series) put together by MRU students with the help of Mozz in Wellness Services.