As brands shift more resources to social media marketing to better engage and persuade consumers, some are learning a painful and expensive lesson: The same copyright regulations that guide advertising on traditional platforms also apply to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, and a host of lesser players.

"It's not that the laws or regulations are new, it's more that people are looking at them more closely," explains Deidre Richardson, former lead counsel in marketing and trademarks at Restaurant Brands International, which operates the Tim Hortons, Popeyes, and Burger King brands. "People are more litigious in terms of their own personal rights and are going after folks who violate them in the social media space. Five years ago that wasn't the case."

Richardson adds that regulators are also now looking at social media with Federal Trade Commission (FTC) disclosure guidelines in mind.

This creates a challenge — how to have spontaneous 24/7 engagement with a target audience that in many ways can't be replicated on other platforms, while at the same time not landing in legal hot water by violating copyright rules.