Here's how Percolate is attacking the user-generated photo problem

By Erin Griffith , written on August 21, 2013

From The News Desk

Last month I wrote about the "user-generated photo conundrum" faced by brands online. They know they need to get in on UCG action but are a bit overwhelmed at where to start.

Images are increasingly the language of the Web. Besides, as I wrote then, Brands struggle to create content as it is. Creating images is even more time and resource-intensive. Pulling in user-generated images is one way of solving that problem.

But incorporating UCG images into a social media strategy as a brand is a challenge.

For one, how do brands blend user-generated images, which are often lower quality, with the perfectly photoshopped product shots created by the company? It can turn off potential buyers, particularly on commerce and travel sites.

Secondly, there are issues with rights. Most brands are too risk-averse to incorporate user-generated images into their social strategies because of the difficulties with obtaining copyright permissions. Technically, brands can't even use an image taken by one of its employees without explicit permission, even though most employees sign contracts handing over all of their company-related work to an employer.

New York-based social SaaS platform Percolate hopes to solve both of those issues in order of difficulty with the latest update to its social SaaS tools. The New York-based company, now up to 60 employees, has been helping around 60 brand clients figure out what to say on social media outlets for two years now. The latest iteration of its platform adds an increased focus on images, with a clever tool that helps companies obtain the necessary rights to those images. Now, through Percolate's platform, brands can ask a user via Tweet for permission to use the image. A link takes the user to a quick check-mark that gives the brand the legal right to republish. Percolate is working on way to do the same for Instagram.

The company also released an iPhone app which allows any photos taken by employees to be automatically approved and uploaded to the brand's image repository.

Brands using percolate have access to 46 million images thanks to deals with stock photography companies like Getty. Beyond that, the on-boarding process of signing up for Percolate includes scraping all of the brands' own images which already have permissions and rights secured, tagging them and cataloging them for easy future use. Percolate's dashboard, which suggests the kinds of links and news that brands should be sharing with their audiences, now also includes photo editing, filters, logo adding and cropping tools.

And as for that tricky issue of choosing which UCG images to include next to a brand's pristine product shots, that's up to the brand managers. Percolate has a built-in approval system that makes compliance with "brand safety" and legal departments. With social media teams growing larger and more global as brands create and publish more and more content, these new tools are the next logical step in helping them keep up.


Percolate has raised $10.5 million from GGV Capital, First Round Capital (where partner Josh Kopelman is an investor in PandoDaily), SV Angel, Transmedia Capital, Rick Webb, Advancit Capital, Dave Morin, Josh Spear, Lerer Ventures (a PandoDaily investor) and Neu Venture Capital. 

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