Internet marketing is great for business. But it can get you into trouble if you’re irresponsible or unethical. Whether you’re blogging, connecting with people on social media, or running an email campaign, there are laws that govern how you use property that you don’t own and how you communicate with folks for marketing purposes.
Don’t find yourself in violation of copyright laws, accused of plagiarism, or called a spammer. Learn the rules before you get started. Here are some guidelines to keep out of trouble.
The person who took the photo is the owner of any image you find online, so unless you took it with a camera yourself, it’s someone else’s property. If you need a lot of general images for your blog, join a stock photo site like Bigstock or Depositphotos and purchase a subscription. It’s easy and it doesn’t cost that much. Plus the selections are pretty universal, so anyone can find something they can use.
But if you need a particular image, you can check its creative commons material and see if you can use it for commercial purposes with an attribution. Some material may be expressly forbidden for use commercially. If that’s the case, move along. Go find something that won’t get you sued. You can also get permission directly from the owner by contacting them and getting terms.
You’ve got a lot of good options for images, so there’s really no reason to get in trouble.
Violating the CAN-SPAM Act can get really expensive. At a fine of up to $16,000 per email violation, that can be a crushing blow to small businesses especially. Understand and stick to the simple rules and you’ll be fine.
Don’t conceal your identity in the from/reply to lines and don’t misrepresent your domain name or email address. Don’t deceive recipients with misleading subject lines. Let the recipients know up front that your message is in fact an advertisement. You’re required to provide a physical address, be it a street address, post office box, or an address provided by a commercial mail receiving agency operated under United States Postal Service regulations.
You have to provide people who sign up for emails from you an easy opt out option, and once they do opt out, you must remove them from your email list in a timely fashion (as soon as humanly possible). If you hire someone to conduct your email list for you, make sure they are doing so in a responsible fashion. You’re on the hook for their actions.
Take spam laws seriously, because you can bet the government does. If you want to see the rules in the government’s own words, just visit the Federal Trade Commission web site.
Remember when your high school or college English instructor said not to do it because you WILL get caught? Well, now you really will get caught. Don’t even bother. It’s not worth it. Besides, all you have to do is give credit where credit is due if you want to use other people’s ideas to make a point or cite a statistic.
It’s really not that hard. After you spend some time in marketing, you’ll find yourself reading a ton of other folks’ material for ideas and inspiration, and there is nothing wrong with that. Just don’t become a thieving hack. Come up with your own ideas.
You got into marketing because you’re intelligent and creative, so go be intelligent and create.
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These are just a few ways you can ensure that your efforts in the New Year will have maximum benefits for your business. Opportunities abound in the area of growing your business with Internet marketing strategies.
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Oliver and Sam
Co-Founders and Social Strategists
Loud Media Solutions
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