Rights Management: 5 Best Practices for Reaching Out Without Being Creepy

November 17, 2015
2 mins read time
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The best content about a brand is often created by fans, customers, and advocates. With millions of amateur creatives posting on social media each day, there’s plenty of high-quality material to choose from—and this content is effective, too. People trust it more than they trust brand-created content. Authentic, customer-created content also boosts brand sentiment, provides social proof, and drives purchasing decisions.

By requesting permission to reuse content created by your customers and fans, you can tap into a constantly refreshed source of high-quality, authentic content that resonates with audiences far more than stock photography.

You can ask for permission implicitly or explicitly (Stackla supports both options!). But whichever method you choose, these five best practices will increase your chances of being approved and help you avoid seeming like a creep.

1. Make it personal

Avoid generic messages like “We love your photo.” That’s the fastest way to be ignored and to undo the social goodwill that people are reacting to. Instead, refer to the specifics within the content you’re interested in and include that in your comment. For example: “Hi @username, we wish it was us camping by the Redwoods! …”


2. Strike the right tone

The language and the level of formality you use should always represent your brand. Develop a guide for your brand’s Tone of Voice, then make sure all of your customer-facing communications follow it.


3. Dress to impress

Before responding to your request, content authors may look at your social account to convince themselves you are who you claim to be. They’ll review your account details and any recent posts. Your social accounts represent your brand, so own it:

  • Use your logo as the avatar.
  • Ensure the @handle mentions your brand name.
  • Make sure your profile background image captures your values and conveys the message you intend.
  • Check the resolution of images on a variety of devices! Newer high-resolution screens demand larger images than you’ve used in the past.
  • Include a profile description and website URL.

Twitter profile


4. Include Terms of Service

When requesting the rights to a piece of content, be clear about how you intend to use it. Explain the contexts and environments that the content may be used in with simple language, and ensure your Terms of Service have been reviewed and approved by your own legal team.


5. Reward

User-generated content is created for social currency, not commercial gain. However, there are a few effective ways to reward people for their content:

  • Social recognition. Attribute the content to the original poster’s account so they can pick up more followers.
  • Where possible, do not alter the image. Cropping and filters change the mood and original composition, and making changes will likely be viewed negatively by the creator. If they’ve given you rights to the content, then they’re trusting that you’ll use it respectfully. Honor that trust.
  • Offer a voucher or discount code. This goodwill gesture may lead to more content being produced by that author in the future, even if they don’t take you up on the offer. It also creates another opportunity to engage with your brand.


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Featured image credit: Flickr

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