Companies should not uses consumer’s social content without opt-in

It’s a great article that explores a number of pertinent topics with regards to consumer generated content (photos, tweets, etc.) on social media and how companies may leverage that content for their own marketing campaigns.

I do think the article misses two key points, however.

First, a 37-year-old mom of a 4-year-old daughter should know better. But the problem is that the general public is extremely naive. They think what they post online is private, or reserved for only a select few. Even worse, many people have no concept that what they post online, even for a few moments, can come back and haunt them for years. Use this rule of thumb: don’t post anything online that you wouldn’t want your dear old grandma to see. But in the example in the article, this post pasts that test. So then what’s the problem? The problem is that she didn’t want Crocs to use the photo. In a moment, I’ll get to why Crocs screwed up royally… But first, if you don’t want strangers seeing photos of your kids, stop posting them online! Stop talking about your child’s hissy fit or medical problems too… when they are old, their classmates will use these things as bullying opportunities. In this case, the mom even hashtagged the brand term. That sort of says, “hey brand, come and get my photo!”

Crocs broke a core marketing principal when they did not seek her permission to use the photo. Seeking permission is so easy. It’s a great opportunity to engage a fan, thank them, possibly reward them, encourage them to continue sharing, and so on… However, this didn’t happen, nor did they get the mom’s permission. Yet somehow the picture showed up on their site.

There are exceptions of course… In my opinion if you pull a social feed, moderated but unmodified, and post it on your site, that’s fine… The content is easily attributed back to the social source and no one for a minute thinks those users are participating in a marketing campaign without their permission.

It’s very easy for brands to go from good to evil, and not seeking permission can be the pathway. But to prevent it from happening, users should think carefully about what they share online, and even how they tag it.

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