Being active on social media is hardly a choice anymore for small to medium sized businesses—it’s a given. After all, your customers are there. Connecting with your target audience in the social web can boost your brand and level the playing field between you and big competitors with larger advertising budgets. But before you rush out to tweet a deal or share pics of your new logo on Instagram, take a minute to learn about common mistakes smaller businesses make with their intellectual property (or IP) in social media—and how you can avoid them.
Mistake # 1: Not having a planIt’s important to remember that when you tell your customers something on social media, you’re telling your competitors too. Think through what you want to disclose and whether you have taken the right protective steps to register or claim your branded IP (more on that below). Make sure you have a social media policy in place both for site visitors and the employees who are able to post to your accounts. Your social media policies must take IP into account and clearly state the ways in which your content, images and logos may and may not be used.
Mistake # 2: Under protecting your IPHave you considered filing trademark or trade name applications for the proprietary names or logos you’ll be sharing in social media that are critical to your brand? While it’s certainly not essential to register every word you write or every image you use, socializing a compelling motto or a trendy logo without protecting it first can be a risk. Sure, it may go viral. It also may go on your competitor’s next product-- and there will be little you can do about it. Registration heightens your chances of prevailing if you need to ask a third party to cease and desist from using your IP or go a step further and file a Digital Media Copyright Act (DCMA) infringement notice to have the offending website blocked from search engines.
Mistake # 3: Not displaying ownership marks, or using the wrong onesMost of us are so accustomed to seeing those little superscript marks next to brands, logos and content, that we hardly notice them. But these tiny icons can have a big impact on your ability to protect IP from infringement and abuse. For the protections to apply, it’s important to use the right kind of mark for the given situation. For trade names and logos, use the symbol ™ if you claim ownership but either have not filed an application or have filed and are waiting on approval. Only use the ® symbol if you have an approved and unexpired trademark or tradename registration on file with the U.S. patent and trademark office. For your original written content, you can use a © symbol whether or not you have filed a copyright application. For audio files, use a ℗ symbol.
Mistake # 4: Not monitoring third party use of your IPOnce you have planned your strategy for protecting your IP in the social media world and taken the right steps to register for protections and display ownership marks, you’re still not done. Continuous monitoring of the ways in which your IP shows up in social media is critical too. Setting google alerts for your unique branded phrases can help you track where content ends up and whether it’s been properly attributed to you. Tools like Hootsuite and Topsy can help you track mentions across social platforms. Copyscape.com can tell you when your fantastic blog post or article has been the victim of a cut, paste and repost.
The opportunities social media offers for you to expand your reach, spread your message and elevate your brand are huge. With a little planning, protection and monitoring in place, you’ll be positioned to make the most of them.
If you’re middle aged or older, it’s likely that one of your most pressing concerns is not having enough money for retirement. And there’s good reason. According to the National Institute on Retirement Security, a full third of Americans between 55 and 65 have nothing saved for retirement.
And even if you’ve diligently saved, it’s difficult to predict if your savings will be enough. Today, many people are living into their late-80s, 90s, and even 100s. Because most Baby Boomers have lived comparatively healthier lives and had access to better healthcare than their parents, you may live even longer.
In light of these facts, a recent article in Money by renowned financial guru Suze Orman declares that the new retirement age for the majority of us is now 70.
While most plan to retire in their 60s, Orman believes this simply isn’t realistic anymore, not only because of increased lifespan, but also due to rising healthcare costs and the increased need to care for aging parents for longer periods.
Today’s eligibility age for full Social Security benefits is between 65 and 67. Of course, you can retire as early as 62 and receive partial benefits, but Orman says that claiming such partial benefits is “one of the biggest mistakes you’ll ever make.”
By waiting until 70, your annual benefit will be 76% higher, which will be hugely beneficial in the long run. Orman notes that for married couples it might be okay for the spouse earning less to retire at age 67, but the higher earner must wait until 70. The only exception is if one of you has a medical condition that prevents you from working or makes it unlikely you’ll live into your late-80s or 90s.
But delaying retirement doesn’t necessarily mean working full-time until 70. You might be able to work part-time or receive a reduction in your current job responsibilities. Orman says to start talking with employers about the possibility of part-time work or reduced duties at least two years before your planned downshift.
You also might consider switching jobs to something that requires less time and energy. Start looking now for educational and training opportunities to prepare for such a new position.
Another option (and one Orman misses) is to launch a freelance gig, or “side hustle,” which is probably your best bet for a secure retirement anyway.
Instead of thinking about retirement as a time to retire from life and work, start thinking about it as the time you can finally do what you’ve always wanted to do. Create a service offering around the passion project you didn’t think you could indulge during your working years.
Dreaming into—and even taking steps toward this side hustle—now is the place to start, no matter how close or far you are from retirement.
Your life experiences were given to you so you can give them back. Begin to consider who needs to hear what you’ve learned throughout your life, especially during the hard times, as that’s likely to be the source of your side hustle.
While this all may initially add to your retirement anxiety, rather than reducing it, you don’t have to go it alone. With us as your Personal Family Lawyer®, we’ll be in your corner the whole way, offering guidance and support, while helping with any legal, insurance, financial, and tax issues that might arise. Schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session® today to see where your retirement planning currently stands.
This article is a service of Law Office of Cory Easton. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That's why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session, ™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.