As a blogger, and someone who works with brands as an outreach specialist, I've certainly spent more time than most pondering the relationship between user-generated-content and brands.
Recently I responded to this tweet from Dove:
The words 'colours' and 'confidence' seemed right up my ally so I tweeted a photo of me back in response. I didn't think much of it, and forgot about my entry.
Then I started getting tweets and messages from people who had spotted me in the Dove gif. They only seemed to have picked about 5 images, but they're now using them in paid campaigns. No direct message from Dove, and I certainly hadn't won a dress.
It got me thinking. Is user-generated-content just being used a shortcut by massive brands now? I mean, Unilever can certainly afford models, and studio time. But what usually accompanies user-generate-content is a mention of who it is. This can work for influencers, as we may gain some new reach. Or it at least works as a recognition that this was submitted by someone else.
However, that screen grab, of my image, sat with their text, reads as if I had tested Dove while wearing my dress. Which is factually incorrect. That image doesn't say it was user-generated. I may as well be a stock image they paid for, or a model they hired.
It sits rather uneasily with me. This is Unilever. A global company who should be paying for their social advertising. I didn't even get an acknowledgement, or a mention, or a thank you. Yet there is my face, promoting their brand for free.
There was a tweet following the tweet I responded to, with Terms and Conditions for taking part. I didn't see this tweet, and I don't think it's good enough. I don't think its good enough to make people sign all of their rights away, for simply tweeting a pic for a competition to win a dress. I think big brands should be doing better than this.
The rather hilarious irony is that I've been asked twice to submit screen tests for previous Dove campaigns.