We got wind of a Facebook page that had been contacted by Someecards CEO Duncan Mitchell in a message that said, in part, “We don’t allow Someecards to be posted on fan pages. The cards are for personal use only, and not for marketing.” The note ended with a request to immediately remove all Someecards content.
What we found particularly surprising about this exchange is that the Facebook brand page that was contacted has a little over 19,000 likes—and while that’s not small potatoes when you compare it to the average Facebook page, it’s tiny compared to a lot of major brands and companies. We’re not sure how this particular page popped up on Someecards’ radar, but the bottom line is that it did—and resulted in some valuable lessons for all marketers and Facebook page admins.
A closer look at Someecards’ TOS reveals details about the intended use of the ecards:
“Someecards User will not use this service to create advertising, promote a product, brand, Web site, social media program, or Facebook fan page. Someecards are for personal use only, and cannot be taken off the site. Only the social networking buttons on the site can be used to share the content.”
What’s interesting to us is that, on the Facebook page in question, the cards weren’t used to promote any sort of product, service or business—instead, they were shared simply for their humorous content and used to entertain the page’s audience. The items from Someecards shared were also shared from others’ feeds and not all graphics were created by the team managing the brand’s Facebook community.
And that’s the broader point of this post. Pop into the Facebook stream at any given moment and you’ll see example after example after example of Someecards being used both by individuals and by business page owners, many of whom are bloggers who work with brands and are in the business of building their own brands in the online space.
Someecards are super fun and easy to use, but they are nothing without the wit and creative input of their users—many of whom are the same people who are creating them for sharing on their branded Facebook business pages. And a quick survey of our many friends in the online space showed that most users create a card on Someecards’ site, then screencapture and share the finished product—the sharing buttons built into Someecards’ site are rarely used. As usual with TOS on many sites, users have no idea what the rules are until they break them—and that’s clearly the case here.
Now that we’re aware of the TOS of Someecards it makes them exponentially less attractive, at least to our team anyway. And really, there are so many other programs out there that allow you to create similar finished products, people don’t need to rely on Someecards to create funny, compelling, shareable visual content.
But we’re cool with Someecards and their personal choices as a brand. The platform attracted hundreds of thousands of users (and traffic) and no doubt benefitted greatly from the viral nature of the creative content its users created and shared. In fact, we notice brands now sponsoring Someecards’ content, like seen with the Zyrtec ad below:
The fact that their platform was so fun and easy to use also delivered them got an audience that came back to their site again and again. That same audience might also be interested in patronizing their new store and purchasing the products using the witty content they created, and/or partnering with Someecards to create content and products their readers or fans might like.
And they might still be successful at that. For us and for many other users we’ve talked with as a result of this situation, the bloom has kind of worn off the Someecards brand. We collectively will be happy to find and use other solutions and then own the rights to the creative content developed as a result—and be able to use it wherever and whenever we please.
So consider yourselves warned. If you’re using Someecards on any sort of business or company social network (including in your blog content and/or on your blog’s Facebook page or anywhere else), we’d suggest stopping. Now. And if you do use them on your personal page, it’s smart to follow their TOS and use their social sharing buttons to distribute any cards you create using their platform.
Alternatives To Someecards
Someecards does offer the option to create your own cards—and if you rely on that service to create visuals for your Facebook page or other social network, it’s time to find an alternative. We’re big fans of Pic Monkey, a super easy site that lets you create collages and edit photos. You get quite a few services and options for free, or can pay a small monthly fee for access to more effects, photo styles and other tools.
If you’re set on using ecards as your imagery of choice, you might try Rottenecards, which lets you create your own ecards that are then featured in the site’s gallery. A scan of their terms and conditions reveals nothing about using the cards for marketing or promotional purposes, so unless they make a change, you’re covered.
One other note? This is a timely reminder to always read a company’s TOS before proceeding. Just because a ton of other agencies, companies and admins are using a tool or service doesn’t mean it’s allowed—and keeping your rear covered is never a bad idea.
Are you surprised by Someecards’ pursuit of TOS violators? And will you alter your use of the site after reading this post?