The social network Pinterest continues to be a fun place to browse and dream. It’s also a place that can be used to generate additional awareness about what you have to offer as a business owner, when used correctly. (You can follow me on Pinterest here: http://pinterest.com/jenfongspeaks/)
When Pinterest started, lots of folks jumped in, pinning anything and everything. This caused problems, as copyright owners got upset watching their images spread far and wide, often without credit and almost always without permission. Where does the social network itself stand on all of this? Back in April they updated their terms of service, clarifying their liability and giving copyright owners more tools.
So where does that leave you, the direct seller? What can you share that helps promote your business without violating copyright law or Pinterest terms?
I turned to Ashley Good, SVP, General Counsel at Arbonne, to get her take on all of this.
One point Good made is the lack of privacy on Pinterest. There are no privacy settings (at least not yet.) This means that everything you share can be seen by the whole world and shared beyond your own little circle. So be sure that anything you share is something you…and the copyright owner…would feel comfortable being shown on the front page of the Wall Street Journal.
You also need to realize that Pinterest has limited its own liability in any copyright legal dispute to just $100. And when you accept Pinterest Terms of Service, you are accepting ALL responsibility for the legality of anything you post. So if someone has a problem with something you post, and decides to take legal action, you’ve agreed that all legal penalties are YOUR responsibility.
Now does this mean you should delete your Pinterest account, and shouldn’t post anything at all? Not necessarily. Although Good did wonder how many social networks bring you to the point of “too much.” Safe to say, if you find yourself spending more time on Pinterest than out selling and recruiting, you should probably cut back.
But if you do decide to use Pinterest, you really need to keep copyright in mind.
Pinterest has recently made tools available to website owners that let them block people from pinning their content. Photographers, in particular, like this feature. But just because a site allows you to pin, doesn’t mean you necessarily have permission. Better to pin only from sites that have a “Pin it” button. The presence of this button lets you know that you are permitted to pin that content.
Direct sales companies should also be very clear with their salesforces as to what is acceptable to pin and what is not. Arbonne, for example, uses Pinterest as a kind of content library for the salesforce. Anything that is shared on the Arbonne Pinterest profile (http://pinterest.com/arbonne) is permissable to repin. It’s also great content that can be shared on other social networks.
But Arbonne’s Pinterest presence is more than that. Arbonne also uses its Pinterest presence to express the personality of the brand, and provide both consumers and consultants with content that helps them come to know and like Arbonne.
“We basically use Pinterest to create an expression of our brand, helping people get a feel for the character of Arbonne. You can’t buy products through Pinterest (Pinterest Terms of Service are rather fuzzy about whether or not you can use the site for commercial gain) but you can learn about Arbonne through Pinterest,” says Good.
Pinterest Terms of Service state:
Use the Service for any commercial purpose or the benefit of any third party, except as otherwise explicitly permitted for you by Pinterest or in any manner not permitted by the Terms;
Good advises that your best bet is to focus on marketing and networking through Pinterest, rather than going for the sale.
“We have a board on our Arbonne Pinterest site about our upcoming conference. We feature information about our speakers, videos of trainers, a link to register, and information about the celebrity judges that will be part of our talent contest at conference.
“People who love Arbonne are new moms, people who care about the environments, people interested in vegan diets, fashionistas, etc. We also have an up and coming group of professional men. We have boards on our Pinterest site that provide content they love. It’s a way to reach our demographic and give them content they find useful.
“We’ve found that Pinterest is a good method of attracting interest, and we have a high click-through rate on our content, higher than Facebook, actually. Pinterest also helps us retain the interest of people, and gives them a reason to come back. I believe that Pinterest can help you be an effective service provider, and helps people know and like you.”
However Good provides a warning as well: “Be consistent with your company branding when you create your Pinterest presence as an independent salesperson. Take a look at what your company is posting, and what it stands for. Be careful not to create a disconnect, but make it your own. Be personal about it…it’s your business, but be sure not to clash with the corporate brand or your customer may experience disconnect.”
So in summary, Good advises independent direct sellers to “Use Pinterest more to tell people who you are about and what interests you. Don’t use it to blatantly sell. This is more a showcase of the lifestyle of your brand and content people will find valuable, rather than ‘buy my stuff.’ These same lessons will help you stay compliant when using Pinterest.”
Many thanks to Ashley Good for once again providing valuable insights for all of us!