I often remind the attendees at my regular content marketing training events, that in this social age, we are all publishers now. You might think that you’re a retailer, a software vendor or a marketer but if you publish content to a regularly updated blog, social media feed or email list – you have also taken on the role of a publisher and that carries with it a significant weight of responsibility.
Regardless of whether you have one or one million followers, anything you publish online can be scrutinised by a court of law in exactly the same way a newspaper publisher’s or TV broadcaster’s content can be challenged. Libel is libel and ignorance is no defence.
While most of us are (hopefully) decent and smart enough not to use the social web to throw the kind of mud at each other that will get us into trouble with the law, many still play fast and loose with social media publishing best practices.
A publishers responsibility
One of my biggest bugbears is the commonly featured phrase often hosted alongside an employers name on many social media profiles: “Views are my own”.
The fact is, you cannot separate the two entities. The moment you say something that may be considered “unsavoury”, it will reflect on you personally and the organization that you have proudly connected yourself to in your bio.
This doesn’t mean I’m advocating the watering down of your opinions through social media (although I would prefer it if everyone played nice and debated topics rather than ridiculing, bullying and trolling). I’m simply suggesting a clear separation between “church and state”. If you enjoy a bit of “banter”, have a left-of-field sense of humour, get a little too passionate about your football team or political party, it’s always best to keep your personal and business social media profiles separate.
Note: Would you consider doing business with (or employing) someone who’s personal social media output caused you offense? We’re living in incredibly polarizing times. Could your opinion close certain doors or would it attract other members of your “tribe” to your cause? Employers should consider this when creating a (common sense) social media policy for their employees to follow.
Remember, every piece of content you publish has the opportunity to cause a reaction.
Donald Trump a victim of his own social media?
Take for example the recent tweets from President Donald Trump (a man who fully understands the power of social media) regarding the publication of the Michael Wolff book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House (amzn.to/2CUT5kE).
While Trump surely intended to slate the book to his 46 million followers he also inadvertently poured fuel on the publicity machine behind the book which is currently ranked as a #1 best seller on Amazon in the U.S. and #2 in the UK.
Not all of Trump’s followers will be fans and he may have just introduced the book to numerous “haters” who normally wouldn’t have picked up a political title. Seriously, Michael Wolff couldn’t have bought better publicity and this serves as an incredible testimonial to the power of social media.
Note: While many publishers (and public figures) are more than happy to build an audience on the back of controversial opinions, most small business cannot afford to alienate their audiences with controversy.
Never before in the history of mankind have everyday people (and political leaders) had the opportunity to reach potentially many millions of people with their innermost thoughts (challenging the reach of even the largest publishing houses).
If you thought about it for just one moment you’d be more careful with your output. Remember, we are all publishers now and this carries with it a significant weight of responsibility.