Social media and your trade secrets.

Social media and your trade secrets.

One of the obvious risks of social media that people sometimes ignore or forget about, is that your secrets, your secret formula, your secrets teaching strategy, might find its way onto social media. Which means that to a certain extent, you could lose your competitive edge. This is important for all types of businesses but particularly people who are training and running workshops. 

If people who are not coming on your course, can access that material anyway then that might lead you to have less sign ups. The other thing would be if you are innovative and you’ve created a new design, for example, a new jewelry design. You’re hoping to get that registered as a registered design and once you reveal that in public, all bets are off, you cannot get a valid design registration. If you’ve invented something, once you’ve let people know about that it can invalidate your patent as well, and social media is the quickest way for that to happen. So for those of us that run courses and do online training and face to face training, how do we alleviate this problem? How do we make sure that our nuggets of gold don’t get shared with the universe? 

There’s really two problems with social media, one is that people can access your material for free online anyway, so they’re not gonna come to your course. The second problem with it, is your information might be taken out of context and might not work. so somebody sees part of what you teach online out of context, then they might look at it and go, “Well, I tried that and it didn’t work.” The only way to really deal with this it’s to be conscious of what you allow to be put onto social media, in regards to what you teach. For example, I did some training recently and there was a particular part of the training that was really hard and the real guts of it.

There were several slides surrounding that particular part, in that case, the trainer wouldn’t want that material to be floating around on the internet. Whereas other parts were more examples of success, so those she was happy to share online. The way you control the content is just to let people know at the beginning of the course, what is acceptable and what’s not acceptable, let people know whether you want them to be doing Facebook lives or not. If you want to control the content more closely, you can have crew members who would do the social media for you. So they will post the Facebook live about topics that you are happy to share. 

If you’re not wanting others to share on social media, you might be happy for them to share photographs, but not video, because if they share video that gives away your course content or at least part of it. I was at an event recently where no mention was made of social media restrictions and several people were doing Facebook lives, one lady started talking and we didn’t know what the topic was gonna be. It ended up being a very personal tale of her journey of abuse and people who were doing Facebook live didn’t realize what was coming. At the end of the tale, the lady said, “Please keep this information within this room, because it’s very private and very personal.” 

But by then it was too late, because people had been doing Facebook lives during her talk. In that situation, the organizer should have said, “We’re happy for you to do Facebook live for any of the speakers except for this one, because she’s got a personal story.” Or alternatively, “We have official crew members in the room that will do Facebook lives for this event. Please don’t do Facebook live, although you can take photos.”

So it is up to you to control your content and make sure that content you’re not wanting to share, doesn’t get out there. The other thing about workshops is that sometimes people reveal things that are confidential to their business. So an attendee might reveal things like sales tactics that perhaps they don’t want their competitors to know about. If you share something like that at an event and one of your attendees videos it, and puts it on social media, the attendee who revealed the information will lose trust in you. So again, the way that is dealt with, is either you have the official person who does the social media do the recording, or you let people know in advance that because of social media sharing, you can’t guarantee that anything that’s said in this room will stay private.

In that situation, if they need to discuss commercially sensitive elements of their business with you, perhaps they can do it at a break or when the group isn’t together so that they can avoid it being recorded and put on social media. To conclude, social media is great and it’s great for getting the information out there but sometimes it can also put information out there that people don’t want out there. So, as the operator of the course, that’s part of your obligation to all the attendees to make sure that you set out the ground rules at the start. So good luck with your courses, my name is Catherine Warburton and I am The Legal Lioness.

Cathryn Warburton About the author

The Legal Lioness. Overcoming severe bullying as a child instilled in her a passion to protect others. As a skilled litigator, she indulges in her dream to push-back against business-bullies who target her clients. She is an international award-winning lawyer and patent attorney and 5-time published author. Cathryn bullet-proofs her client’s businesses and protects them like a mama lioness protecting her cubs. She makes sure that no business is left without access to affordable, easy-to-understand legal information. She does this through her books, proactive legal workshops and 1-2-1 legal services.