Social media warfare — 6 shots across the bow

You thought about this but don’t want to admit it. You wanted to do something that slows down a competitor you are after. If only there were methods of grabbing them by the collar and putting them 10 feet behind you. Well, there is a couple of things that should achieve that goal.

photo by @madbyte

DISCLAIMER: We ware talking about white-hat/ legal methods only. You are allowed to do anything within the law to advance your cause, if you do something shady or illegal you might face bans, fines, in some cases jail time. And rightly so.

DISCLAIMER: Anything you do unto your competition can and will be done unto you. Be 101% sure you want to do this cause it can turn bitter quickly.

1. Obvious things are obvious — copyright issues. Go through their image gallery on facebook and instagram in search for anything they might have misused or taken without consent. Often times less skilled social media ninjas use movie posters and photos of movie stars to spice up their feeds — flag this down as copyright infringement or report the picture to actors management. It should at least result in those pictures getting taken down.

2. More copyright issues — cloned copy, cloned T&C’s, matching social media post wording. Turns out a good bunch of companies steal copy, they are unwilling to spend the time and effort to write things on their own. In most cases their website is the good place to start, About us/ offer (general landing page) / pricing pages are cloned the most. WARNING: copy copyright infringements are hard to detect, harder to enforce and easily amendable. To make matters worse there are a lot of generators for legal paperwork. You have to do proper research before moving forward with any claims. If somebody infringes on your rights you shouldn’t have a problem. but if you want to report infringements on the rights of others you have to be 100% sure.

3. Even more copyright issues — music. Youtube does a good job screening for copyrighted music, Facebook and Vimeo not so much. Procedure is the same as with photos: flag or report to management/ owner. WARNING: music can be licensed or bought. Think twice about reporting music you can licence through services like premiumbeat.com, 99% of the times its used in accordance with the licence. There is that 1% though.

4. Try to establish relations with your competitors sponsors and partners, then make them work exclusive with you. This might be achieved by doing a couple of sponsored posts for free, providing value by mentioning and tagging them in your posts when relevant.

5. Use the same influencers. This is straight forward — offer them a bit more than your competition. Cash works best but sometimes you can do it by allowing for more creative freedom.

6. Go after their core fans and make them convert to you. Pick those with most friends and followers. Start chatting and liking their instagram/facebook posts. Do not overdo it, keep it simple, this will take time. Be helpful, provide value and there will be a day they switch allegiances. Their friends and followers might follow suit.

Those methods are not for everybody. It takes time and effort, preferably separate resource — either freelancer or PR agency. If you have better things to do, do them first. It takes finesse and that special touch to do it properly, might involve you in battles you’ll have hard time winning.

How to protect yourself from such an attack

1. Be legal. Simple as that. Don’t use anything you don’t have rights to, if something is free on “teh internets” check it twice. Asking the author for official blessing covers your war hungry behind especially if you have an confirmation email to present to anyone who asks.

2. If you use any external resources be sure to do (and keep) the paperwork. Any agreement has to have a Copyright clause, it has to be clear who is responsible for keeping it kosher.

3. Have an eye on your social media ninjas. Sometimes even the best of us post stuff that sits on the edge of legality.

4. Comply with every point of licences covering source material. I released 6 years worth of hi-res photography free of charge under Creative Commons 2.0 and to this date went after more than a dozen agencies that didn’t credit me. Expect me to slide into your DM’s if you use my free UX resources without crediting me as well.

5. If you must use trusted and tried PR agencies. They cost a pretty penny but nobody will knock at your doors with any legal BS.

6. Keep your partners and sponsors happy. Don’t have to give anything away for free, keeping in touch works wonders. This is how you get into contention for any new campaigns or sponsorships.

7. Don’t be a douche to your followers. Keep an eye for those most loyal and if you can do little things for them — mentions, likes, providing extra value with write-ups about what they are keen on will make them stay no matter what and defend you against any attacks. Forget about your core flock and you will experience how a castle without its guard looks like.