How to Avoid Social Media Disaster

As good as social media is for keeping people connected and granting instant access to events as they unfold, it is also a minefield for people who don't carefully think before they post. No doubt you've read some social media horror stories over the years. Just search "Social media fail" and you will find hundreds of articles, listing the worst offenders. 

This is why it's so important for you, the creative professional, to clarify with your client up front what is and isn't okay to post online while working on a project.

We all like to use social media as a platform not only to discuss topics that interest us, but to promote our own work. We want to share our latest projects with the community, in hopes that it will open doors to other opportunities. But we first have a responsibility to our clients. We have to be sensitive to what they may or may not want pushed out for the public to see.

About seven years ago I worked as the cinematographer for a a producer and director who were shooting a commercial in their local market. I had worked for both the producer and director several times before and we all had a great working relationship. On the day of the shoot I snapped behind-the-scenes photos with my phone (as I often do), posting a few of them on Twitter to share my experiences.

Later I received a very strongly-worded email from the producer who was upset that I had posted about the project online when there were details about the project they didn't yet want out there for public consumption. I immediately deleted the posts and then called both the producer and the director to talk things out. I was eager to promote my work, but hadn't stopped to think about them first, and whether they would want me talking about the project online.

All of my video production contracts contain a clause that grants me permission to use the finished video in any of my own marketing efforts. But equally important is a written agreement between you and the client about what you can/cannot post on social media about the project throughout all stages of production. This information should also be shared with your entire crew.

It's important that we remain sensitive to our clients' needs. A single ill-advised post on Twitter or Instagram isn't worth jeopardizing a solid working relationship with your client.  

How do you handle this issue with your clients? Leave your tips in the Comments section.