Social media monitoring has made marketing a bit easier – with the birth of Instagram, Facebook, and the other myriad of image based social sites, customers have taken to documenting every move they make with pictures, whether it’s a nice dinner out, visiting an amusement park, or even running errands.
This is great for marketers, as often times customers’ pictures and commentary are better than any marketing content you’ve created. The additional win is the fact that you can engage with these customers, use their pictures & comments, and create a relationship.
But, is it that easy?
Yes and no. When you find a customer who has a great picture with a great caption, you think you’ve hit gold, since it completely mirrors your upcoming marketing campaign. Since you found it on social media, in a public space, you’re free to use it, right?
Not without consent. But, how do you define consent? Are customers giving consent by tagging your company in an image, or using a company generated hashtag? Possibly, but only if you’ve made it explicitly clear that by tagging or using a hashtag, customers are giving consent to use those pictures on the website, in marketing materials, etc. And it gets more murky if this disclaimer is not clearly visible on your site or social sites where this happens.
Below are some steps you can take to make sure you have consent before using those pictures. Some of the tips are even great for engagement purposes – after all, engagement IS part of the goal for social media marketing!
- Create a consent based hashtag: despite being the subject of a recent news article on this subject, Crocs created a hashtag (#CrocsOK) that is used when a customer posts an image on a social site and Crocs comments on it. By replying with #CrocsOK” customers are giving their consent for the company to use the image and/or comments.
- Comment publicly on the user’s image and ask for permission: this is a double whammy of positivity; first, it is out in the open that you are asking for consent to use a customer’s picture, and, when the customer replies, consent is easily proved. The added benefit? If other customers see that your company actively seeks out and uses customer images, they may be more inclined to post their own pictures and engage with the company’s social sites. Definitely a win-win situation!
- Create a terms & conditions page and keep the URL handy: while many customers don’t tend to read the fine print, or even visit a company’s social site before posting their own pictures, it’s not a bad idea to create a page that lists your company’s social media usage terms & conditions. Include the URL on your social sites for added protection.
- Be proactive: when you find customers who are talking and posting images around your brand, engage with them! Comment, like, and share posts, and encourage them to connect to your social sites. From there, create contests – in your post, be sure to state that the content shared may be used in marketing, and that by replying to the post, users are giving consent to this possibility. It’s no surprise that many customers talk about brands and are not connected to their social sites; this is where social monitoring and engagement come in handy to build relationships and follower bases.
Customers love attention from companies they support; in the majority of cases, customers will be thrilled for you to share their pictures in your marketing efforts. It’s when you use them without asking when it becomes a problem. Always take the side of caution and proceed carefully – the goal is to create relationships with customers, not damage them.