- Tech & Gadgets
- BRW. lounge
Published 19 December 2012 15:15, Updated 20 December 2012 11:43
Photo-sharing site Instagram is facing a backlash from users for updating its terms and conditions, but businesses using the service for social media marketing may benefit from the changes.
Outraged users have inundated social media with comments about how “it was only a matter of time before Facebook killed Instagram”. They say the wording means Instagram can sell their photos to any third party for any purpose without consent or compensation to the creator, painting scenarios about how a traveller might find their holiday photos on a billboard or photos of children might be rebranded to sell life insurance.
However, other interpretations say the clause only gives Instagram the right to use photos for promotions within Instagram, similar to Facebook’s sponsored posts. Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom has responded to the furore by stating that it is not the company’s intention to sell users’ photos and that the company would modify the terms and conditions to make it clearer.
For businesses that post high-quality images to Instagram, the copyright grab is concerning. National Geographic was sufficiently alarmed by the wording that it has suspended updates to its Instagram account and is considering closing it altogether. An update via a photo upload to its @natgeo Instagram account says: “@NatGeo is suspending new posts to Instagram. We are very concerned with the direction of the proposed new terms of service and if they remain as presented we may close our account.”
But for companies that use Instagram more as a community-building tool the changes could be beneficial. This includes fashion brands such as Kate Spade, Club Monaco and Australian activewear brand Lorna Jane.
The digital strategist for Lorna Jane, Sam Zivot, believes the new terms bring it into line with Facebook’s policies and could allow the company to make better use of user-generated content.
“We don’t know what the opportunities are as yet,” he says. “My assumption is that this is Instagram’s first move towards monetising the platform by allowing brands to use photos for marketing and promotional purposes within the platform. It’s an opportunity I’d definitely seriously consider but I’d have to weigh the issues first. My initial assumption is that it’s not too different to Facebook and there are hundreds upon thousands of brands leveraging content and interactions that people make on Facebook now.”
Zivot told BRW the Lorna Jane account updates Instagram two or three times a day but the greatest value comes from Lorna Jane’s core customers with about 800 updates using the #lornajane hashtag each week.
He says companies like Free People Clothing Boutique are using software called OlaPic that allows them to import images with certain hashtags into their own website, but notes that usage rights for user-generated content can be a grey area without clear terms and conditions.