I am seeing quite a few marketers and consultants encouraging restaurants to snap pictures of food and happy customers to post on social networking sites, on their blogs and on websites. While I heartily indorse this, photos DO sell, facilities need to be aware of the potential for damage.
I just finished reading Ken Burgin’s article, http://www.htrends.com/researcharticle42081.html, one of many articles by consultants that seem to be circulating, encouraging the use of photos online.
In none of them so far do they talk about the liabilities that can immerge from this.
Legally speaking you should be getting customers to sign model waivers in order to use their photos. But let’s go beyond that for a couple of examples.
You snap a photo of a bunch of customers (with their ok) having a great time at your restaurant. While you have the permission of most of them, you don’t ask permission of the people behind them sitting at the bar talking, they are not looking at the camera and it doesn’t even cross your radar at the time that they show up in the photo. Check out the Taphouse http://thelocaltaphouse.blogspot.com/ mentioned in Ken’s post for a good example.
Someone at the bar is with his or her girlfriend/boyfriend/significant other, but is not in fact there with their actual girlfriend/boyfriend/wife/husband, if you catch my drift.
“Gee honey, let’s go try out that new restaurant that just opened in town”
Wife checks out the restaurants blog.
“Harold! Who is that blonde you were with at the bar? You said you were at a meeting!”
“Hey Boss, we were thinking of having a going away party for Matt, what do you think of Coco’s on Main”
Boss: “I’ll check it out and get back to you.”
Boss checks out web site/blog and there sitting at the bar, is his vice-president talking to his major competitor, right after a meeting where some very sensitive information had been discussed.
The very negative example:
Snap is taken of drunken man dancing on the table.
Yup its hysterically funny.
Man tells wait staff he has a designated driver and proceeds to go out and run someone over.
Regardless of the fact that he then went to another bar and drank more, here is visual proof that he was inebriated when he left your establishment.
Guess who is going to get sued.
Everyone seems to be talking about privacy issues on Facebook, what about issues on blogs or social media. While the actual liability of a restaurant getting in trouble for posting a picture somewhere is probably not great, (with the exception of the drunken table dancer) the liability from potential loss of not protecting customer’s privacy IS great.
Can you imagine that the wife or executive will go to that restaurant to eat ever again? Do you think they will probably tell many, many people about this. which will reflect negatively on your businesses image? I would think so.
While I do encourage the use of photos on your media, eyeball them heavily first before posting them. To further protect yourself I would ask people to sign waivers to use their pictures and not post pictures of inebriated people, while they might be hysterical………………………….