Pinterest Terms of Service: More Simply Put

pinterest-iconI’ll start this blog post with a disclaimer: I love Pinterest.

Now, that we’ve gotten that out of the way. I’d like to share one of the many reasons I love Pinterest. No, it’s not all the amazing DIY projects I can look at, or the recipes I can be inspired by, or the wedding I can dream of… it’s the social networks ‘Terms of Service.”  Say, what?

I’m serious. After reading many of the major social networks Terms and Conditions, I was often left blurry-eyed and confused. What were they trying to say? Do I have a reason to be concerned about where my content is being shared or tracked? Or should I be checking my privacy settings more often? Well, on Pinterest navigating the Terms of Service was pretty easy. Actually it was “more simply put” literally.

In the screenshots below, you’ll see how the social network includes call-out boxes next to each service term, providing a more user-friendly explanation. Hallelujah!

Screen Shot 2014-05-19 at 9.05.57 PM Screen Shot 2014-05-19 at 9.06.12 PM Screen Shot 2014-05-19 at 9.06.43 PM

This is genius! Okay, maybe that’s giving Pinterest a little too much credit. But the truth of the matter is, why aren’t more social networks doing this? They really should be. In a matter of minutes, I was able to read through these terms and actually understand them.

That being said, it doesn’t mean all of the terms aren’t controversial. The social network came under fire a couple of years ago because of it’s copyright terms. In 2012, the social network decided to tweak it’s terms of service, as well as, made it easier for users to report copyright or trademark infringement. Now the policy reads as follows:

Screen Shot 2014-05-20 at 7.22.51 PM

It still puts the onus on users to not pin copyrighted materials. Which in a sense goes against the purpose of the platform. I mean the goal is to share content and view it easily. We all know how easy it is to pin and re-pin content. I think one way that users can protect themselves, and  how Pinterest can in turn protect itself, is to not initially pin copyrighted materials.

So, as a user I should not go onto a photographer’s website, find an image I like and take it upon myself to pin it on Pinterest for the world to see and re-pin time and time again. But, if that photographer has a business account with Pinterest and he/she pins their work, I am free to re-pin as I want. That seems reasonable, although I’m sure it doesn’t always happen.

Inevitably, new social platforms are going to have growing pains. Pinterest is not alone and won’t be the last to come under scrutiny, but similarly to Instagram after controversy erupted the company responded. Listening and responding to your audience is key to success for any social network.

My advice to anyone as addicted to Pinterest as I am: Stay away from pinning someone else’s work and you should be good to go. Happy Pinning!

 Do Pinterest’s Terms of Service concern you? Which social network do you think is nailing it when it comes to Terms and Conditions (in terms of being user-friendly)?

Advertisements

Terms and Conditions: Do You Read the Fine Print?

terms_and_conditionsWhen it comes to “Terms and Conditions” let’s be honest, most of us don’t read the fine print. I know I usually don’t. In 2010, this Forbes article referenced a study that showed about one in 1,000 people actually clicked on terms and conditions on websites, and probably even fewer actually read the terms. While this example is a few years old, I can only assume that number has actually dropped because most of us have such a short attention span (myself included) when it comes to reading long documents online (or in general).

Now, I’ll be honest – when it comes to my money I tend to be a little more interested in the fine print, but I still don’t study the entire set of terms. On social networks and websites, well I guess I’m just hoping for the best. The main issue: they are not user-friendly. Who wants to sift through, or scroll through, pages of legal jargon or information that will probably not impact our day to day use of the social network? After reading the terms and conditions of Facebook and Twitter (yes, I just did this as part of my assignment – I didn’t take it upon myself to be an informed user), I remembered why I don’t usually spend time reading these documents. Snoozefest! Yes, I said it.

I think new ways social networks could help users better understand terms and conditions would be to create infographics or brief videos. Pull out the main highlights and help users understand those to start. Then, if someone wants to learn more or needs to for legal reasons they could click on a link to view the entire document. Google actually does a great job of this with its features. No shocker there. Google always seems to do things “right.” Google include videos, almost tours, of each of its features. Check out the Hangouts video or learn more about Google+ Circles as examples. In less than 2 minutes, it’s clear how the features work and the purpose. Something like this could be done for terms and conditions. I think it would be a lot more relatable to most of us who relate to visual, short content.

But I guess there does have to be some responsibility on us as users. While Facebook and Twitter both use “You” instead “We” a lot in their respective terms, they are technically putting it all out there for us to read and interpret on our own. If we don’t, that’s on us and as we’ve seen in the past with Instagram, that lack of knowledge can cause controversy, but also change. If you think about it, how can these social networks monitor everything, everyone posts? They can’t. So as users we must accept some responsibility.

The great thing about social media is if we do have a problem with a term or condition, we can voice it to a large audience. As Twitter’s Terms of Service states:

“What you say on Twitter may be viewed all around the world instantly. You are what you Tweet!”

Happy posting, everyone!

 

 

The Value of Social Media

social-media-roi

Despite the popularity of social media worldwide, many businesses still wonder about its value from a brand standpoint.

Why should my company invest in social media? What’s the return on investment (ROI) for social media?

As a social media marketer, these are question I face all the time. The truth is like any form of advertising, social media is a unique platform. But that doesn’t mean you can’t measure successes and failures (but let’s focus on the positives here!).

One-Size-Does-NOT-Fit-AllIt’s Not One Size Fits All

Understanding the value of social media is a challenge. It’s not one size fits all for businesses and marketing strategies. Especially if your company only focuses on the financial aspects of investment and return. What companies need to focus on is the non-monetary economic value. This doesn’t mean finances shouldn’t be a factor, it just means it shouldn’t be the focus. By non-monetary economic value, I’m referring to value that can travel throughout the social media world. Companies aren’t just having conversations with one customer, on social media they are having conversations with that customer and everyone connected to their social networks, as well.

Before launching a social media marketing initiative your business should have a specific goal. By “specific” I mean not just a generic business goal, something that is unique to your brand. Once you’ve developed that goal, social media can help:

  • Increase brand exposure
  • Increase traffic to your website or a physical location
  • Develop brand advocates (I’ll talk more about these a little later)
  • Improve organic search traffic
  • Create new business partnerships
  • Reduce marketing expenses (What employer doesn’t love this!)
  • Increase sales

Relationships Build ROI

It’s important to remember, in today’s “social” world, your business should be forming  “R.E.A.L.” relationships: Reciprocal, Empathetic, Authentic, and Long-Lasting. Brands should realize experiences over social media aren’t happening with the network, but with the public at large. This can create both positive and negative conversations, but hopefully will lead to countless purchasing decisions in the future (Remember, we’re focusing on the positive here!). It also gives you the platform to right those negative conversations. Your goal on social media should always include “doing right by the consumer.”

When building relationships it’s important to start with your loyal customers. These advocates or influencers can help broaden your marketing reach. This group of customers probably won’t have a problem getting the word out about an initiative and new customers may respond to “people like them” passing along a message, rather than a business. With 52% of U.S. consumers using the Internet as their primary purchasing tool, it’s an area brands can’t afford to ignore.  By actively engaging with consumers via social media, you will keep your brand relevant.

Fundraising

A great way to build brand awareness and ultimately drive ROI is to get involved with fundraising. But remember…

“Social Media platforms aren’t necessarily fundraising engines, it’s the people using them that are.”

People love a good cause and they love hearing from individuals who benefit from a fundraiser. They do not want a brand pushing a cause on them. Social media allows your business to support a cause, but not necessarily push it on people.

When it comes to a fundraising effort, tell the story–either yourself or through someone else. This can be done with a video (we know people love visuals on social media) uploaded to YouTube or shorter platforms like Vine and Instagram. If people can see who or what their donation will be helping, they’ll probably be more inclined to give.

Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 9.56.01 PMAlways include a call to action, but be specific. It’s also important to use active language (Click, Share, Donate Now). People are more apt to take action right away, rather than come back and do it later. Along the same lines, make it easy for people to take action. No one wants to fill out a long form. Fortunately there are platforms, such as Givver.com, Fundly.com, or Snowball.com can help your business’ fundraising efforts reach a higher level.

Once an initiative is underway, always make sure to thank donors, partners, and volunteers. This again goes back to showcasing real relationships. Publicly celebrate success, but remember to be authentic. Maybe you’re not the one thanking donors, but the child who received tuition to school or the disabled mom who received a new mini-van, etc, can post a video testimonial about how the donations helped them.

A personal example I can share right now is this month in support of Breast Cancer Awareness, my organization recently partnered with Member One Federal Credit Union to raise money for our Breast Care Center. Both businesses promoted the sale of “pink hoodies” on our social media sites multiple ways, including links to purchase the hoodies, pictures of employees wearing the hoodies, and promoting sales at community events. So far, it’s been a success and we hope to utilize more of these partnerships in the future to raise awareness for causes that support our mission: Inspiring better health in the communities we serve.

Bottom Line

Social media give companies opportunities for growth, if used for more than mass marketing agendas. By allowing brands to connect on more personal levels, businesses can begin measuring ROI in no time.

Questions:

Have you ever been part of a social media fundraising effort? Share your experience and if it was a success.

What do you think is the most important aspect of social media value?