One of the most asked questions in my DM’s is: how can I LEGALLY use testimonials and reviews that I receive from clients?
And it’s a great question because as a business owner, you probably already know that social proof is one of the best ways to generate sales.
Potential clients or customers want to know what other people have experienced and what results they generated by working with you, so it’s a very normal thing for you to want to put those results on display.
As a business owner myself, I totally get this and I also want to make sure that potential buyers are able to read reviews so that they feel extra confident making a purchase.
But just like anything else in business, you want to make sure you do this LEGALLY!
I know it’s tempting to think that if a client shares a win with you or you gather testimonials from them, then you can just automatically use what they say online.
And while I really do wish it were that simple, if you want to do things legally, you have to take copyright into consideration.
In this blog post, I break down all things copyright, so I won’t go into a ton of detail about that here, but the short version is this: whenever someone creates ANY type of content – whether it’s written word or video – they own the copyright to that content… even if that “content” is a testimonial for you.
That means that you can’t just copy and paste what they send you and use it as your own or screenshot a review with their name or image and use it on your website.
All of those things run the risk of copyright infringement – even if it’s a small risk – AND you’re potentially using their name and other identifiable information against their will.
If this sounds crazy to you, I hear you – so let’s put this into perspective:
Would you feel comfortable screenshotting an image off of Google or Pinterest and using it as your own?
(If you answered yes, PLEASE stop doing that. 😅)
Most of us know that we can’t do that, so screenshotting a review or testimonial or copying and pasting someone’s written word really isn’t any different.
Now, I know what you might be thinking at this point…
“Amber – I really want to use testimonials and reviews on my website and social media, sooooo how can I do that LEGALLY?”
I’m glad you asked! There’s actually a very easy and simple solution.
Before I dive into that specifically, let’s quickly review four extra tips for legally gathering and using testimonials and reviews.
4 Tips For Legally Gathering and Using Testimonials
1. Don’t use fake reviews
Although this might sound obvious, this is actually a very common practice especially for newer business owners.
I understand that you want potential clients to view you as credible and it’s tempting to think that reviews are the thing that will get you there, but before you use fake testimonials, ask yourself:
What’s more credible in the long run? Using fake reviews to get clients OR showing up as my genuine self, gaining clients, and then using their real and honest reviews to impact my business?
I think you know the answer. 😉
Fake reviews will rarely reap the reward you really want and you could even end up in hot water with the Federal Trade Commission, so save yourself the headache and just don’t do it.
2. Disclose free products and free testers
Another common practice to gain reviews is to send free products or do trial services at a free or discounted price in exchange for a review.
There’s nothing wrong with doing this UNLESS you hide the fact that the free product or service is in exchange for a review.
This information must be disclosed so that other potential buyers know. Failing to do so can again get you in trouble with the Federal Trade Commission, so simply adopt the scout’s honor and show up honestly in all parts of your biz!
3. Use Genuine Reviews
Similar to not using fake reviews, you want to make sure that all reviews are genuine and real!
It’s common for people to use fill-in-the-blank style review templates and that’s perfectly fine as long as the client submitting the review can attest that it’s their honest opinion.
Otherwise, you could be guilty of altering someone’s real review, thus making the testimonial ingenuine.
Additionally, don’t add or delete words from the original review or testimonial. When using the person’s words, make sure you use them just as they submitted them – aside from fixing grammar and punctuation errors, the review should not be altered.
4. Don’t suppress only negative reviews
This tip is specific for any user-submitted online reviews where a rating is also involved.
As a business owner, I know that you want your rating to be high, and a negative review can be something that makes that rating fall.
While a high rating is important, you want to avoid manipulating your rating by only deleting negative reviews.
If you do decide to remove reviews, you need to do so evenly for both, positive and negative reviews, so that you’re not changing your overall score.
How To Legally Use Client Testimonials Online
Now, back to that easy peasy solution I promised you.
It’s common practice for many business owners to gather reviews and testimonials as a part of their offboarding process.
If that’s the case for you, the FIRST thing you can do is ask for permission right then and there – and no, that doesn’t just mean having a checkbox that says, “I consent to my information being used online.”
Actually give them an option and if they say no, you must respect that – because remember: they hold the copyright to their words.
The next thing you can do, which is something I encourage all business owners to have in place, is to use a testimonial release to make sure you are fully protected!
A testimonial release is simply a legal agreement that allows you the ability to use that review in your marketing – it’s truly like your legal key to unlocking the influential potential of social proof in today’s digital age.
And as always, we’ve made it super simple for you to get your hands on an agreement like this!
Our Testimonial Release Template is a digital contract that gives you permission to use those shining client testimonials as part of your marketing strategy.
With this handy tool, you’re no longer just collecting testimonials; you’re harnessing them, turning customer praise into powerful promotional narratives!
In addition to incorporating a testimonial release template in your business, you can also add a Consent to Use clause in your Terms of Service agreement.
This will give you double protection and allow you to legally use client reviews and testimonials in your business so that future clients and customers can get that confidence boost when it comes to buying from you! ⭐️
In need of something else to legally protect your business?
At The Boutique Lawyer we’ve created a number of contracts to help make sure all of your assets are protected – browse the contract shop to find what you need and if you aren’t sure what’s the best fit or you can’t find what you need, send me a DM here!
We’re constantly creating new resources to serve you best!