Should every company have a social media editorial policy after Daytona?

The controversy over the supposed censorship of fan videos taken at the Daytona International Speedway has raised some important questions that organizations using social platforms to build networks of loyal fans need to consider.  If you don’t know what happened you can read my post here that provides more details.

As somebody that has worked as a journalist, in the broadcast rights department of a major network and a PR person, there are five questions raised by the NASCAR debacle:

  • Who owns rights of videos shot at event venues when they don’t show content covered by broadcast rights agreements or a sport’s governing body?
  • Does anybody with a smartphone become a citizen journalist when something like this happens – and content becomes reporting, rather than an attempt to capture copyrighted content for commercial sharing.
  • At what point do videos cross the line from journalism to being content that breaches third-party copyrights?
  • What is a brand’s social editorial policy on fan videos shared on social platforms?  Should they have a proactive moderation process to ensure quality, but also give them control over the timing that certain content is posted? Should an organization employ a social media editor to make decisions when things like this happen?
  • Should social platforms add an additional message to explain that some videos are being held back temporarily in situations such as the one in Daytona?

The problem for brands is that consumers have become used to sharing content [photographs, audio and video] via social platforms with friends, associates and others with a shared interest.  The perceive any attempt to stop it as censorship and this often reflects negatively on the organization.  When it’s content owned by the user perhaps they have a point – but when it’s content that impacts the perception of a brand shouldn’t the organization have a say in what is, and isn’t posted?  And, when something like Daytona happens, shouldn’t organizations should have a plan to ensure that the dignity of those involved?

The realities are that brands, NASCAR included, will generally encourage fans to share content that helps promote their brand; accidents, such as the one over the weekend, are – thankfully – rare; and most brands are social savvy enough to know that blocking content is not a good idea.  Personally I think NASCAR got it right – albeit the message visitors to YouTube received gave them the wrong impression.

After the weekend I’m guessing a few more brands will be reviewing their social content policies and start to look at what their social editorial policy should be in similar circumstances.  What’s your take on how NASCAR handled the situation?  Does your business have a social editorial policy?