Skift Take

Brands have to be smart about integrating user-generated content into their ad campaigns to avoid legal problems and fan pushback.

There is a wealth of incredible, authentic photos of destinations and hotels on social media today, and smart brands are learning what it takes to turn those uploads into campaigns that spread brand awareness beyond individual customers’ and visitors’ social media circles.

The challenge with using such posts for brand purposes is that companies should obtain permission for every photo used.

For ads, like Hyatt House’s new YouTube video, that means obtaining rights to at least 25 photos. The campaign was inspired by social content that guests were sharing that gave their friends and family a glimpse into their Hyatt experiences.

“Since the campaign is using Instagram photos, we have been using Hyatt’s Instagram account to send Instagram Direct messages and comment on guests’ photos in order to seek their permission to include their photos in the Hyatt House campaign,” explains Hyatt spokesperson Stephanie Sheppard.

“Only images from guests who’ve responded with permission to use their photos have been included in the campaign.”

Hyatt was also cautious not to inquire about photos that posed additional legal issues like, for example, photos with other brands’ logos in them.

Tourism Australia also relies heavily on user-generated content to consistently share high-quality photos on its social media platform.

Tourism Australia does not claim ownership rights to photos posted on its Facebook wall; however, it does keep the right to modify and post such photos on any of its online media formats or social media channels. Tourism Australia also include the photographer’s name on any photo it posts.

“Our T&Cs state that if you post on our profiles or use our hashtags that you give us permission to republish your images on our social profiles or website. We make it clear that this can be revoked at any time,” Jesse Desjardins, head of social at Tourism Australia.

“Making our fans the hero has always been a key pillar in our social media strategy, but what most people don’t see is how much time the social team spend building trust and relationships with our community in person, on the phone or by email.”

In many cases, the tourism board is the only reaching out to social media users for permission to use their photos.

For example, in the above photo, Tourism Australia left the following comment for Instagram user Natalie Grono: “Congratulations, this shot is a semi-finalist in our @cityofsydney & #australianlife Instagram Competition. To move to the next stage of the competition we need you to respond to this comment with – ‘Yes, I have read and accepted the Terms and Conditions of the #australianlife Instagram Competition.'”

Grono then responded in a subsequent comment.

Best Practices

Sparkloft CEO Martin Stoll recommends travel brands always get permission in writing from a user before using a photo on a brand channel. He also recommends getting a full release when an image is taken off social media channels and put into a print or TV ad.

Skift’s deep dive into the world of Instagram found that, for some brands, hashtagged photos for contests act as a consent to usage. For best practices; however, brands should still reach out to entrants and ask for permission as a courtesy.


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Tags: marketing, social media, ugc

Photo credit: Tourism Australia reaches out to Natalie Grono for permission to move forward in submitting her photo in the City of Sydney and #AustralianLife Instagram Competition. Natalie Grono / Instagram

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