Saturday, 10 February 2018

Why You Shouldn't Reply #Agree

I think every blogger - actually, every person with an Instagram account - has been in the situation where they've had a big brand comment on their image requesting they use it, prompting you to reply "#Agree" (or something to that effect).
I don't want to come across as telling you what to do, of course it's entirely your decision, but I would like to encourage you not to reply #Agree and give permission for the brand to use your image. Here's why: 

It's Deceptive
The way a lot of these comments are worded make it sound quite personal, like the social media manager for this company has been innocently scrolling through Instagram, come across your incredible photo and gone tugging on their boss's sleeve saying "Oh my gosh, look at this! Look at this amazing photo! We need to use this!" Sadly, this isn't the case. If they're not using bots, they'll have a social media team commenting on near enough every picture that isn't blurry. I'd suggest (this is just speculation) they're probably using an automated commenting system to comment on every tagged photo. It's unlikely anybody has actually seen your photograph, or at least not done more than glance at it. They'll be commenting on hundreds if not thousands of posts, the more #Agree's they get, the more free content they have for their social media. 

Terms and Conditions 
When you reply #Agree, there's often a link to a lengthy list of terms and conditions that a vast majority of people over look. If you read these, you'd find that you're basically handing over the rights to your content for the company to use however they so please, not just to repost it on their Instagram. They can print it in brochures and posters, use it in advertisements and marketing emails. Here's a little excerpt from this real terms and conditions link I was directed to via an Instagram comment:

You grant  [...] non-revocable commercial right to reproduce the content in any form (including, but not limited to, video, internet posting, reproduction, display, email, publication, and distribution), either through our own services or services provided by third parties, throughout the world in any medium now known or later developed and without restriction or limitation. You agree that your content may be used by ___ or by others under ___ direction to create derivative works [...] You waive any right to inspect and/or approve the finished work incorporating the content or the advertising copy that may be used in connection therewith or the use of which said finished work may be applied. Further, you waive any claims to royalties with regards to your content or our finished work.

In layman's terms, you give them the right to use your content in a way that they can profit from, using any medium (such as printing and re-posting online). They can do it globally - so if the company have different social media pages/marketing channels for different countries they're sold in (e.g Benefit Cosmetics has a separate Instagram account for the UK, Ireland, US, Australia, Germany...etc) they can use your image across the board. Not only can the company use your content, but third parties associated with them can do it too, if the company passes the content onto them. You can't change your mind about it and you don't have any input in the way they use your content (so if, for example, they used it in a way you found offensive, you can't withdraw their right to use it). Finally, if they make money from it (which they will!) you have no right to any monetary compensation - you will not see a penny of any profit made from your content; your hard work.

It's Exploitative 
Given the cost they might otherwise spend on photographers and studios, it's worth spending the time, effort and far less money on staff/bots to gather a stock of images. When you look at a lot of Instagram pages run by companies, it's obviously professionally run. It won't be a social media page like yours or mine, with snippets from our everyday and what we're loving lately, but it'll be streamlined, monetised and run by a team of social media and marketing experts. In other words: they've got the cash to make it nothing more than one big clicking, scrolling advert. So why should they take your image for free? You've worked hard on it, you've put the time and effort in, and you've probably bought the product yourself. So why let the brand basically use your image as an advert, consequently making money off of it, and not giving you your fair share? 

It's exploiting those that fall into one or more of the following categories: 
a) Have little to no knowledge of how marketable social media is these days, 
b) Gullible enough to believe a brand is recognising them,
c)  Won't read the terms and conditions,
d) Doesn't care 

So please let me tell you as politely and as kindly as I can that:
a) Social media is extremely marketable and companies are profiting off of your content 
b) The brand isn't recognising you (see section: "It's Deceptive")
c) There's hefty terms and conditions that basically rob you (see section: "Terms and Conditions") 
d) You should care about all this, because if brands can continue to use content without giving the owner proper compensation, content creators will never be able to truly benefit from their work. Why should they pay me for my image if there is a sea of thousands of images they can use for free? 

What happened to politeness?  
Personally, I find it very rude that brands have the audacity to leave an automated comment on my profile prompting me to give my intellectual property away. The least they could do was ask me personally. I'd still charge, but I'd appreciate the gesture and have the opportunity to communicate with them.  One of the cheekiest things I've experienced is an outreach company working on behalf of well known big beauty brand, asking to use my image for free! If they have the budget to hire someone to send automated DMs and comments, they definitely have the budget to give me fifty quid or so for my photo. 
I have permitted brands to use my images for no fee when they've approached me politely, but brands doing this is by no means the norm. I've had a skincare brand send me an email telling me about how they found my Instagram feed, how thrilled they were I like their products, and asking if I would mind them using it. I've also given my images to smaller brands at no charge, because they're smaller, they probably have a tiny - if any - social media budget. Plus they tend to take the polite approach and ask me personally rather than take the piss by leaving a generic comment with hidden terms and conditions.

Have you ever been inadvertently ripped off by replying #Agree?

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16 comments

  1. Oh wow. I never knew this. Thanks for the info 💕

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  2. Wow, that's on seriously shaky moral ground, in my opinion. Thanks for the heads-up.

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  3. Wow, I never knew this, so this is very interesting to know... and kinda sad, but oh well. That's how the marketing world works I guess.

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  4. Such a great post, when I first started blogging I would always let brands use my imagery but I've started to learn how totally deceptive it is, like you said about the terms and agreements, they are so sneaky and you're practically giving your photography work for free! xx

    www.iridescentplaces.com

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  5. Wow. Never really thought of it like that. Thanks for the info!

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  6. Great post. I didn't think of it like that.

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  7. Really like it. Thank you i loved your account ❤

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  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  9. I never actually thought or see it this way but thank you for opening my eyes to this! I will definitely be thinking a lot more about brands comments x
    https://hiitskirstyy.com

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  10. What an eye opener - will certainly be looking more closely before i #agree to anything in the future

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  11. You're kinda generous. So interesting to know this

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  12. I agree (lols) with what you're saying. DFS have approached me and want it for free too. Supposing they then went on to sell another 30,000 photos based off my photo? I want the money.... ;)

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  13. Those colors are just gorgeous 😍

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  14. I think most people don't know about marketing nor do they read Terms and Conditions (myself included) so we can get drawn into this thinking we'll get more views and attention. Unfortunately/Thankfully I haven't received this kind of comment yet (but then again, I don't do blog stuff on Instagram). This can get pretty exciting, but reading blogs and advice like this makes me think more about my worth and that I shouldn't just give away my work to anyone.
    Great post, thanks!

    xo Honey - blog Royal Lifestyle - Twitter - Instagram

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