Best tradeshow marketing tips and case studies. Call 800-654-6946.
Best tradeshow marketing tips and case studies. Call 800-654-6946.


Pinterest’s TOS Raises Red Flag

I blogged about the rising start Pinterest just a couple of weeks ago. I was quite enamored (and still am) of the image-board-pinning service for a couple of reasons. First, it’s growing quickly and is getting raves in the blogosphere and press about how its ability to drive traffic outshines some of the more established social media sharing sites. Secondly, it’s an easy-to-use, good-looking site that has tons of possibilities in both sharing and in promoting your own products, blogs and services. The fact that Pinterest has spawned many imitators is a sure sign of its success even as the question remains: can that success be sustained over the long term?

Yet in spite of its ability to drive more web traffic than Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn combined, Pinterest may have a poison pill lurking within its own Terms of Service. Those Terms of Service clearly state that YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL MATERIAL YOU POST. It appears that they’re looking to dodge any legal responsibility for ANY images that their users may post, and instead are shoving those responsibilities onto their users.

A recent article by a photographer who carefully combed through the Terms of Service, which resulted in her cancelling her account and ‘tearfully’ taking down all of her boards, is a caution sign. The article spawned hundreds of comments (it’s a lot to read, but very engaging), and its made me rethink my interest in Pinterest.

Is this a reason to jump ship like Kirsten Kowalski did after carefully reading the TOS and deciding it was too risky for her? I would hesitate to do that, and until you start to see photographers or other creators aggressively going after users who pin work they don’t own, it’s probably a pretty slim chance that you or I will have any problem. But, like Kirsten thought, someone is probably going to be the first to be sued. And once the lawsuits start to fly, the folks who own Pinterest will have to make a choice on how to handle the copyright or they’ll see the site become a web pariah.

At this point, I’m going to leave my Pinterest account in place, but be more careful and thoughtful about what I pin. I may even go through and delete those high-resolution photos that may be under copyright to someone else.

Still, I think Pinterest is a great place to promote your event or tradeshow appearance. I’ve posted photos of client booths and gotten repins and comments, which means it’s generating interest and moving traffic through the web. Next time I’m at a tradeshow (this coming week I’ll be in Las Vegas at Exhibitor and in Anaheim at Expo West), expect to see many photos that I’ve taken uploaded on PInterest. Since I own the copyright and I’m willing to share those copyright rights

So for the future, I’ll look to upload mainly my own content, though by doing so I’m turning the rights over, at least partially, to Pinterest to do with as they choose. It’s the same as Facebook – when you upload a photo to FB, you are giving them rights to use those images basically forever in whatever way they choose.

I’ll also look to source Creative Commons photos from Flickr and give attribution to the photographer. With Flickr, users have the option of choosing various types of copyright. Many choose to share those images as long as they receive credit.

I doubt this will finish PInterest. But once word spreads – and if a legally aggressive creative-type takes a Pinterest user to court – they may find themselves facing a big hit to their current growth.

My Interest in Pinterest

I’ve been fooling around for a couple of weeks now with Pinterest, the social media sharing site that has been modestly booming in the online world. In fact, a recent article indicated that Pinterest is driving more traffic than Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn combined!

This got my attention, so I had to check it out.

So how does it work, and how might you use it for event, conference and tradeshow marketing?

Start by creating a ‘board’ which is basically a digital bulletin board where you can share images and videos (Pinterest is driven by images, not text and plain links). Then you can curate those boards by adding multi-media content.

Let’s say you start a board on ‘tradeshows I love’. You could even put a date on it, such as ‘2012 tradeshows’ and then post photos of shows you attend during the year. Or you could create a board for just one show that your company attends and post several photos.

Pinterest uses the same ‘follow’ protocol that Twitter now Facebook use. You can simply follow someone to see their boards, which show up on your browser mixed in with dozens of other boards, with the most recent posts at the top.

If you install a browser extension, such as the one use by Chrome, you can easily ‘pin’ an article with an image on your Pinterest board.

When you sign up for Pinterest you can connect your Facebook and Twitter accounts along with your personal website. You can choose to share your pins across your network if you choose. You can create ‘like’ lists, and you can also mention users you follow by putting an “@” in front of their name, just like Twitter.

In fact, by using protocols that are found on other social media platforms, the learning curve on Pinterest is very short and not steep. Which makes it easy to learn and easy to share by quickly pinning images.

Selling Product

By adding a $ or £ to your Pin description, you can post items for sale. I’ve read that this is very popular on Pinterest and is moving a good amount of product, both digital and physical. Just include the link to your product page along with the $ or £ sign. Don’t forget to remove the pin if you sell out!

Of course, Pinterest is mobile (the app is free) and you can easily take a photo you’re your Smart phone and upload it quickly.

There are many social networks that try and get our attention. Pinterest may be doing a better job than most and is probably worth paying attention to.

Follow my Pinterest account here.

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Tradeshow Guy Blog by Tim Patterson

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