Today, many big brands and small businesses alike are leveraging content marketing to build and optimize their Web Presence. This often means managing and publishing content across multiple platforms, including your website, business blog, and social media accounts, which can sometimes result in mistakes that can be harmful to your business. So, in honor of Halloween, here are four scary content marketing snafus that have actually happened – so your business can avoid them.

1. Using Copyrighted Images
When it comes to your business’ Web presence, it’s critical to produce unique, sharable content to increase engagement with your customers and prospects. But one huge mistake many businesses make is posting copyrighted images. If you’re searching on Google and copying the images that show up in the search results, you may be using an unlicensed image on your public pages, which can result in legal action if you fail to remove the images or pay for their use.

How to Avoid it: To be sure the images you post on your website, blog, or other pages are legitimate, you can source them from a stock photography site like iStockphoto, take your own photos, or find images online that have a Creative Commons license.

2. Not Claiming All Your Social Profiles
As a local business, one critical mistake you could make is neglecting to claim all your profiles on social media or directories – or worse, not checking to see if they are already claimed by someone else.  For instance, when Netflix launched its DVD-by-mail service Qwikster last year, it failed to check the @qwikster Twitter account, which was already owned by someone else whose tweets were less than professional.

How to Avoid It: If you are starting out with a new business, it’s vital to not only decide on a website domain name, but also to verify that the social profiles you want on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ are available. Claim these as soon as possible before a competitor or other entity snatches them up.

3. Tweeting from the Wrong Account
In order to keep your professional accounts professional, be extremely cautious to make sure everything you post is an accurate representation of your brand.  It’s very easy to make a mistake like posting a personal update to a site like Facebook or Twitter – just ask the Red Cross or Chrysler, two brands that have experienced the accidental tweet.

How to Avoid It: First, make sure that you have a strategy in place to monitor and manage your social media profiles. If you manage a personal and a corporate Twitter accounts, use two different applications on your desktop and mobile device to avoid mistakes. You could also take advantage a service like ReachCast, our Web marketing service that monitors your social media profiles and publishes content and social updates on your behalf. If a rogue tweet or post does surface, delete the post and apologize for the gaffe as quickly as possible to save face with your fans and followers, and make sure you have a social media policy in place for handling any such occurrences with your staff.

4. Newsjacking a Sensitive Topic
Many brands recently have come under fire for what is referred to as “newsjacking,” or using a popular or trending topic to promote their brand, product, or service.  For instance, this week alone, big brands like Gap and American Apparel have been called out on social media sites for posting insensitive tweets that used Hurricane Sandy to advertise sales.

How to Avoid It: Before you try to capitalize on a catastrophic event, think about the potential backfire it could cause with not only consumers, but also the entire online community.  If in doubt, it’s best not to post anything at all.

What major content marketing or social media mistakes have you seen from your favorite brands or local businesses? Let us know in a comment.