Update: The team running Cavendar Audi’s social media account has contacted me on Twitter and on Facebook and have apologized for their actions. This article will continue to stand as how social media teams should not work with other’s content.
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, blogs and other social media outlets are quite rife with individuals re-posting of content without attribution or providing credit where credit is due; all, without a second thought. Speaking as an individual, I’m guilty of that myself and I have been getting a lot better at doing what is right.
With that said, I think it is a whole lot worse when the same thing is done by a social media team representing a company and brand. Not only are they risking being exposed by their fans and followers, but it could also lead to the account being blocked or deleted outright; as, the copyright holder can report such posts to the site directly or via a DMCA takedown request. No company wants their social media presence to go dark, particularly right before any campaign, because of some idiots that don’t care about copyrights and attribution.
So… you might be asking, has led me to write up this post? Good question.
This morning, at about 9:34 AM Pacific Time, Cavender Audi posted a photo on to Twitter and their Facebook page with the text, “Red or blue?”. In case the tweet is taken down between the time that I write this and when it gets posted, the following is the original tweet and the photo that was attached to that tweet and Facebook post.
I immediately recognized that photo as it was one that I took, along with others in a set, at Audi Wilsonville on 18 January 2013. It was one of the photos that I had provided to Scott Mitchell at Audi Wilsonville, with their logo as a watermark over. The photos were soon posted on their Facebook page and later re-shared by Audi USA on to their page. But, the photo that Cavender Audi had posted didn’t quite look right: the photo was badly cropped. For comparison, below is the original photo with my usual watermark and a version with the Audi Wilsonville logo:
So, in order to nix the Audi Wilsonville logo, they had to also crop out a portion of the Audi S7 in the photo. When I noticed both the tweet and the post on Facebook, I let them know where to find the original photo. A period of time went by, no response. I continued to poke and prod and let Scott Mitchell know about what they did. Still no response back.
After waiting about two hours, I decided to try to get a hold of someone at Cavender Audi, be it via the main phone number listed online or the contacts listed on their website. The call to the main number at 11:42 AM resulted in a typical message saying that the call may be monitored or recorded and over 15 rings before giving up. At around 11:45 AM, I tried calling one of the managers listed. That got me to the receptionist, who forwarded the call over to Rick Cavender’s line which went to voicemail after 4-5 rings. I decided to go to their Facebook page photos and noticed that they have downloaded and re-posted several images that I have posted, including a photo of Scott Mitchell’s exclusive Audi S5 (with the watermark) and the screenshot that I took of my iPad with the menacing Audi R8 photo. Both instances include absolutely no credit or attribution. Sadly, there were too many other examples to list them all in this post.
I decided to try again after getting a bit to eat and rang back at 12:09 PM and specifically asked for either Sam Robles or Jim Wilson, the General Sales Manager and General Manager respectively. The receptionist sent me over to Jim Wilson, who picked up promptly. I explained to Jim who I was, what was posted on to their Facebook page and Twitter stream, that they had stripped out the watermark and had not provided any credit. Jim had mentioned that they outsource their social media work to a third-party company (no names were mentioned) and asked how to proceed, including whether the photos should be taken down. I agreed to that and stated, again, that they need to make sure to provide attribution and credit in such posts moving forward. He stated that he agreed and would let them know.
The Facebook post was removed from their page at 1:06 PM, but the tweet still stands as of 5:11 PM. I still haven’t had any contact from the people who run their Twitter account or Facebook page. None. Zip. Zilch. Nada.
The lack of response is the antithesis of how a social media team should run an account and presence for a company or brand. No matter if the customer or fan is right or wrong, being silent makes things look worse than it ought to be. You are one with the brand and that’s how people see you. Remember, as a social media manager or associate, you have essentially been given the keys to the kingdom and the trust that goes with it. Don’t <bleep> it up.