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By Darryl Ohrt

Plan on peppering your brand campaign with some of the hot social media tools that are all the rage? You might want to hire a professional.

Yes, your 16-year-old son can produce rocking MySpace pages. But he's probably not familiar with copyright law, brand strategy or intricacies of web development.

John McCain learned this the hard way. Whoever produced his MySpace page used an 'open source' design template, and failed to give the designer proper credit. Open source materials are available all over the internet, but if utilized (especially commercially) they often have subtle requirements for use. The design template that McCain used only required a simple design credit. Which wasn't given. Even worse, the McCain developers pulled an image from the designer's server. Something only a novice developer might do.

Bad news for John McCain. By doing so, he put his page in control of the person who was hosting that image. And in this case, it was the same designer whose template they used without credit. That designer taught Mr. McCain a lesson - in a humorous way. Since the image that McCain's site pointed to was on the designer's server, the designer could change the image to anything he wanted to, and the change would automatically be updated on McCain's site. In this case, he created an announcement that John McCain had reversed his position on gay marriage, "particularly marriage between passionate females." The developer was kind. He could have posted things far more offensive to Mr McCain.

You'd think that even larger agencies would provide some security and experience here - but I've seen similar mistakes by people that you'd think would know better. The only way to be absolutely confident in your web 2.0/social/emerging media campaign is to ensure that the developer you're hiring has experience in the fields they're working in. Commercial experience. Quite simply, the responsibilities (and stakes) are much greater at a commercial level than they are for a teenager's outpost on the internet.

So, go pro. Hire an experienced web developer for your branding materials - even if they're seemingly simple, and as easy to create as a MySpace page. Simple details gone wrong can wreak havoc for your brand.

Darryl Ohrt is the founder of VIA and the chief contributor to BrandFlakesForBreakfast.com.

Darryl Ohrt is the founder of Plaid.
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