Ins & Outs of the Legal Social Media Arena

Margaret M. DiBianca Associate Young Conaway Starrgat & Taylor, LLP p 302.571.5008 f 302.576.3476 Wilmington, DE
Margaret M. DiBianca
Young Conaway Starrgat & Taylor, LLP
p 302.571.5008
f 302.576.3476
Wilmington, DE

It was such a pleasure meeting Molly DiBianca, who came out to speak about the legal matters of social media. Molly is a legal consultant for Delaware employers and runs an award winning blog – The Delaware Employment Law Blog. I happened to learn a lot…like did you know that there is no such thing as free speech in the workplace? I definitely did not know that!!! Or that there are three types of claims people can file:

1. Constitutional (Government)

2. Statutory – written law

3. Common –  judge-made also a tort.

Also, did you know that when you publish ANYTHING – you relinquish your right to privacy? This one blew me out of the water…and its good to know, especially being a writer/blogger, publisher/marketer. Once this right is forfeit, you also have no claim to invasion of privacy, even if the information goes beyond your scope of expectation (viral). Once the information is somewhere that the public can easily gain access, there’s no reasonable expectation of privacy (meaning, you can reasonably argue that your information was guarded and was forced upon or stolen) – there’s nothing you can do!

Last but not least, we spoke about defamation and the difference between slander (spoken) and libel (written). The hardest defamation case to prove are the slander ones, unless you’re a celebrity or some other famous influencer…so these cases are rare. Did you know that libel on Twitter is called Twibel in the legal world? Who would have thought?

Just like any other industry, social media does not exempt us from being accountable or responsible for our actions when it comes to what we publish. I always advise people to think before you post, as once its out there…that’s it! I hate to see the idiotic apologies that come after we’ve virally placed our feet in our mouths – and now we risk losing everything, all because we spoke in the heat of the moment!!!! Celebrity breakups come to mind! My biggest tip is, keep your personal business of the social media platforms. If you are using someone else’s artwork, CREDIT your sources, link out to their site…and please please please, if you receive a “take down notice” for any reason, TAKE IT DOWN!!! This solves 99.9% of all issues. I also suggest, have guidelines and policies in place before taking to any platforms to put yourself out there! These plans are created to protect the entity and parties involved. They are the vital backbone of any successful social media campaign!

A Brand Ambassador’s Issues With Poor Brand Relations

I’ve never been one to hold grudges. But I refuse to tolerate disrespect, dishonesty and disloyalty. I am very particular when it comes to brands that I work with, and choose to represent my entire family’s health and well-being!

I’ve been a brand ambassador for over 4 years now. The only instance I’ve encountered where I felt like my feelings were unappreciated was while working with a hair care brand, that I came across when I was beauty blogging full-time. I received some full-size samples for review, as did a few of my other fellow beauty bloggers. Me, personally – I wasn’t a fan of the parabens, sulfates and other chemicals found in the ingredients and was hesitant to use on my locs, but my daughter was okay with testing it out. Overall, the product did appeal to her liking. Where things got ugly was when the brand’s PR rep told one of my fellow beauty bloggers that she was allergic to sulfates and would prefer to decline on reviewing if the product contained any such ingredients. She proceeded to reassure this blogger that the product was safe for her to try.

This blogger did indeed use the product, which as you can guess – resulted in an aggressive, harsh, painful blisters and sores all over the bloggers head/scalp and face, which tormented her for day. Could this have been an honest, avoidable mistake?

When the blogger reached out to the brand’s PR girl, her reaction was very vague and nonchalant. What really bothered me was the fact that it seemed as if you represent a brand, you should be familiar with its ingredients and any other aspect which is vital to brand recognition! Obviously, my blogger friend blogged the entire situation, which in turn upset the brand. In fact, our entire group took to her blog to make comments and show our support for her recovery. The brand’s PR girl didn’t like the fact that I exercised my right to ‘free speech’ and decided to withdraw the proposal of me being their brand ambassador because I refused to have my comments removed. My comment wasn’t negative, bias or harmful – I just simply apologized that she was experiencing what she was experiencing, and would pray for a speedy recovery as I knew she was in extreme pain and discomfort. But to the brand, I contributed to the mass that was against the actions taking on this rep’s behalf. There was no apology, but rather lies and accusations  between the rep and my blogger friend. But at the end of the day, I stuck to my guns – as right is right!

The brand ended up choosing another fellow blogger as their ambassador – which I was over…at that point, as who wants to represent disrespect, dishonesty and the likes? I did learn however, to be cautious when working with brands – opting to have everything written out, plain and full of clarity – as to avoid any confusion. Working with certain brands made me reevaluate my approach and way of thinking. Nothing is ever what it seems anymore. I am just extremely cautious with what I associate my personal brand with. Once again, I find myself – not angry, bitter or disappointed, but rather grateful for the life lessons and avoiding the speeding bullet, which this brand proved to be as it had no direction or proper representation!

The Haves and the Haves Nots in Social Influence

Being a blogger, I’ve had the pleasure of working with many brands. However, one thing I pride myself on is the power of choice! I get very finicky when I feel my power of choice slipping away. I work with brands and following them on various social media, most definitely means that I am a firm user, believer in that particular brand and their products. I always stand by my experiences – one that most likely resonated in some way if I use it for my family.

One of my favorite brands is the #EssenceOnline brand, which includes #EssenceFestival. I follow them on Facebook and Twitter. I love how the brand focuses on the positivity of being a black woman today. It highlights many of the greatest goddesses of the arts and creativity – and what her contribution is, how it inspires/impacts others, giving tips, testimonials and tricks so you too can become that same goddess. They post frequently throughout the day. They are often engaged, if the comments are positive and in line with the brand.

However, I have also noticed that in the black community, beauty (especially natural hair) has become a movement that has taken over the digital world, with those who have the cutest pic or nicest hair texture (4a 4b 4c…). To take a picture, which earns lots of likes – is totally different from taking the time to educate, empower and entertain your audience/followers/circle/network on ways to live “beautifully” every day. The motivators take time to help black women to connect and address issues that they are faced with on a daily basis, like being a single mom, how to save money, how to travel on a budget, how to start a small business, etc.

I prefer to follow brands that add value and enrichment to my life, my race, family and future. If natural hair styles, tips and the likes continue to be the focus of the brands I believe there is more to empowerment than just our outer appearance. I will agree that it does add value to our spirits however, as it can boost our self esteem!!!

My Brand. My Baby

10639391_860594400641351_4639524570847497241_nFor as long as I can remember, I’ve always resonated with the ideal of entrepreneurship. But, I was taught to keep myself separate from my “brand.” However, after the reading The Brand Called You, I realize that at the end of the day, I AM MY BRAND. MY BRAND IS ME!!! No separation required!

My brand is the “Queen.” The ultimate female. Inspiring, attentive, focused, creative and a visionary. She is the ideal influencer, leader and pillar of empowerment. The more I speak, the more I relate and visualize myself; “Sapphire Kharyzma.” A queen plays many roles, yet not one specific role can be used to sum up her identity.

10628365_10201882653467088_5383701953599482197_nThe only aspect of my brand that I keep disconnected is the “employee” relation. I will no longer seek solstice in the ideal of “stability, security and all that jazz…Since embarking on my venture into entrepreneurship, I’ve successfully created a persona, who is building a network (Queens of Virtue), empire ,which encompasses:

  • Queens of Virtue – Travel and lifestyle career coach; ambassador and advocate for the rising up girls and women…a movement. Funds raised through blogging, publishing, social media pr and travel and shopping donates percentage to sponsor at-risk, low-income women opportunities to invest in themselves and become small business owners. Women are empowered to be CEOs of their dreams, learning the necessary skills to meet success through the program process.
  • Queens of Virtue Travel and Leisure – Certified travel agent
  • Essence of Esther – events, workshops, shopping and travel ventures which inspire girls and women through beauty, fashion and health. Topics include dressing for success, time management, financial tips, blogging 101, social media best practices, resume vamping (LinkedIn) and more; personal stylist working with at-risk and low-income girls and women, helping them to dress for success and look their best on a budget. Shopping for a cause is our niche.
  • Queens of Virtue PR – social media PR consulting and cause marketing.

My brand is Queens of Virtue. Each of my talents are to blame for my legacy’s growth. All of these aspects of “Queen” adds value, because not two are the same – yet each one shares a passion…which has successfully helped me to brand “Sapphire Kharyzma” and clients, as a part of a team or as an individual.

10425037_10152623066057863_3033141403404647762_nMy brand has a lot to do with leadership, social entrepreneurship, and education.. “A leadership brand conveys your identity and distinctiveness as a leader. It communicates the value you offer.” – Ulrich and Smallwood. My online brand is an encompassing of all my passions, fueled through my talents.

I am grateful to be on the path to mastering  and managing team ME. I want to offer a personal touch to the social media arena, daring myself to push outside of my boundaries, testing out temperatures of different oceans, so that I can keep up with the constant crashing of the waves of life! To sum it all up, knowing how to do something and knowing how to do it well – are not the same thing! “I strive at branding, and my greatest masterpiece is BRAND ME!” – Sapphire Kharyzma.

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