Pinterest changes TOS, allows commercial use: What does this mean for you?

by Susan Getgood on November 19, 2012 · 1 comment

in Blogging,Ethics,Pinterest

Last Wednesday, Pinterest changed its Terms of Service (TOS) to allow commercial use.

Wait. What?

You mean commercial boards and sponsored pinning may have been in technical violation of Pinterest’s TOS all these months?

Yes indeedy. Given the importance of widespread commercial adoption of the service to its ultimate ability to monetize, it is highly unlikely that it would have cracked down on the commercial activity, but until last week, the TOS prohibited both commercial use and encouraging commercial use by others unless the activity was pre-approved by Pinterest.

So, what do you need to do if you are planning to use Pinterest for commercial purposes?

You must comply with the Pinterest Terms of Service and the FTC’s Guideline for Commercial Endorsements. Here’s how:

  1. You need to have a business account and agree to the Business Terms of Service. If you already have an account, it is easy to convert it to a business account, and if you do not, you simply open it as a business account. Both can be done at business.pinterest.com. HubSpot did a nice tutorial with screen shots if you need a little guidance. Important: ANYONE using Pinterest for commercial purposes, even an individual, needs to have a business account to be in compliance with the Pinterest TOS. The pages don’t look any different but Pinterest has released some tools for the business accounts and has promised more, which is an incentive above and beyond the simple ethical consideration of complying with the TOS!
  2. You need to develop your policy for proper disclosure of commercial activity on your Pinterest account to comply with FTC requirements for commercial endorsements. If you are a commercial brand and your account has a company name, your boards likely will be presumed to be commercial content, so you should be fine from a disclosure standpoint. However, if you are an individual, you must make sure that your affiliations are clear. I recommend:
  • As a best practice —  put a clear statement in your bio about your affiliations.
  • To comply with the FTC, label any boards and pins related to commercial activity in the description. For example, “My Golfer’s Paradise board is brought to you by GOLF BRAND” on the pinboard description, and on the pins themselves, a sponsor statement such as “Sponsored by GOLF BRAND” or “Love this putter from GOLF BRAND. #sponsored.”

Next — and this  part is optional, not a Pinterest or FTC requirement, but I personally recommend developing your own guidelines for your use of Pinterest to best leverage the platform and ensure consistency of your approach over time. Plan the work and work the plan!

If you represent a brand, you want the boards to fit the ethos of Pinterest, and help build awareness, interest, consideration and purchase. Don’t just slap up boards with pictures from your catalogs or details of the latest promotion. Think about how you can make your content valuable to the community so they will repin it and help you spread the word.

If you are an individual, you want your sponsored Pinterest content to be consistent with your non-sponsored personal pins. Your taste and interests are why people have followed your boards, and you don’t want to disappoint. Bottom line, if you have any sort of following, brands will be approaching you. Best to have your own strategy lined up so you know which opportunities are worthwhile, and which ones are not.

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