People have speculated non-stop about the absence of Apple on Instagram – but as of this week, the technology conglomerate finally created an account.
As of now, its feed comprises solely of User Generated Content (UGC); these are pictures and videos taken by the Apple community. Not a single professionally taken photograph made the cut.
UGC isn’t a new strategy for Apple, though – not by a long shot.
Back in 2015, the brand launched its “Shot on iPhone 6” campaign, which displayed stunning pictures captured by 77 iPhone photographers from over 24 countries. These appeared on larger-than-life billboards in Dubai, Paris, London, and other cities.
When the iPhone 7 launched, Apple used the same UGC strategies to draw attention to its new features. More specifically, they had a group of photographers use the low-light camera on the iPhone 7 to capture life from dusk to dawn.
Here are the resulting images, compiled into a video:
What does this illustrate perfectly?
Apple On Instagram:
Showing instead of telling.
This format is way more effective than going with a text-based ad which simply lists out the iPhone 7’s specifications. In case you’re wondering, this would look something like:
The new iPhone 7 consists of optical image stabilization, an f/1.8 aperture and a six-element lens. The larger aperture allows up to 50 percent more light onto the camera sensor as compared to the iPhone 6s, and the optical image stabilization reduces blur associated with motion and handshake. The sensor also helps the lens counteract movements, which results in up to three-times-longer exposure compared to the iPhone 6s.
Didn’t bother reading the entire paragraph? My point exactly.
That’s not all, though. Other than UGC being able to paint a more compelling picture, there are also several other reasons why Apple is using UGC.
One huge factor?
By showcasing pictures taken by your average Joe, Apple is effectively telling you that the iPhone 7 can make anyone a good photographer.
Image from Apple.
Check it out –
In this post by Apple, the brand even includes a quote from the amateur photographer. This stated that he lives in a small town, and that he’s not a professional.
If you read between the lines, here’s what Apple is saying:
- There isn’t a steep learning curve involved with the iPhone 7.
- You don’t need to be particularly good with technology to be able to use the iPhone 7.
- Even if you’ve never been talented at photography, the iPhone 7 will change that.
Genius, isn’t it?
This brings me to the next point…
If you look at the UGC that Apple features on its Instagram feed, you’ll notice there’s incredible diversity.
The photographers behind the pictures aren’t predominantly from any single race, religion, country or culture. There are mothers, ship captains, poets, dog-owners, travelers, people who are colorblind, and more.
What is the underlying message?
It’s that the iPhone 7 is the phone of choice amongst not just Americans, not just millennials, but amongst people all over the world and of all ages.
If that’s not social proof, I don’t know what is.
Finally, one last reason why Apple is using UGC lies in the flexibility that UGC offers.
Think about it – if Apple wasn’t posting UGC, what else would they post?
Behind the scenes pictures. Product updates. Information about new launches. In other words… boring stuff.
Let’s face it, Instagram is best suited to lifestyle content – which is why brands selling lifestyle products or services have somewhat of an advantage on this platform.
A travel magazine or travel app, for example, can post pictures of exotic, far-flung locations and bikini-clad babes on beaches and have their Likes shoot through the roof.
Brands which are more “corporate” and less “lifestyle”, on the other hand? It’s much tougher for them to produce the kind of content that the Instagram community loves (and will gladly double-tap on).
This is where UGC comes in.
By opting for a UGC strategy, Apple is effectively broadening their scope. Now they can legitimately post pictures of dogs, travel, and other lifestyle pictures that are highly popular on Instagram – and still have it be relevant to their brand.
Image from Apple.
I’ve talked at length about why Apple is using UGC strategies – now, let’s delve into some of the other general benefits of UGC.
Firstly, UGC helps build trust with consumers.
Because UGC campaigns are “crowdsourced” from everyday folks, they tend to result in a notably raw and authentic feel. (Traditional campaigns, on the other hand, can come across as “polished” and corporate.)
Since these brands that run UGC campaigns are seen as authentic, it naturally follows that consumers trust them more as well. In fact, studies show that a majority of consumers (50%) trust UGC over traditional media.
Trustworthiness aside, UGC also helps to build a community and a brand.
Apple’s Shot on iPhone campaign, for example, generated over 10,000 submissions from its consumers.
That’s 10,000 people who have engaged with the brand, and 10,000 people who identify themselves as a part of the Apple community.
What does this translate to? A community of followers who are extremely loyal to the brand.
According to a Morgan Stanley study, Apple has a 90% brand retention rate, which is significantly higher than its other competitors.
In the 2017 Customer Loyalty Engagement Index, Apple was identified as the top company that engaged customers in the categories of smartphones, tablets, and laptop computers.
Finally, in Customer Thermometer’s survey of which brands US consumers are the most emotionally connected to, Apple won by a landslide.
Image from CustomerThermometer.com.
Coincidence? I don’t think so.
And just in case you aren’t all that impressed, let me remind you:
Acquiring new customers can cost you up to 25 times what you’d spend on retaining existing customers.
In addition to this, increasing customer retention by just 5% is likely to boost your profit by 25 to 95%.
This ties in nicely with the last benefit of UGC – which is that:
UGC is monetizable and can help you increase your bottom line.
As noted in L2’s Instagram Intelligence Report, UGC has the highest impact on conversion rates in the following five niches:
- Fashion and apparel (+6.4%)
- Jewelry (+2.4%)
- Footwear (+1.7%)
- Beauty (+1.6%)
- Consumer electronics (+1.6%)
Here’s a real-life example:
- 6.62% of visitors interacted with the UGC
- People that interacted with UGC had a 381.29% conversion rate (vs people that didn’t interacted with UGC)
- 23% of sales increase
Let’s start off with the easiest form of UGC that eCommerce stores can incorporate:
I know, I know, product reviews have been around for a long time, and they’re not exactly sexy. But who cares, as long as they’re effective?
(And going by the fact that 72% of consumers say that they will take action only after reading a positive review, yes, I would definitely say that they’re effective.)
If you don’t have a review function on your website (or if your review function is largely unused), it’s time to change that.
Make sure you incentivize your customers to leave product reviews. You can do this by…
- Giving them loyalty points
- Giving them a discount off their next purchase, or
- Giving them free shipping on their next purchase
Whenever your customers write a review.
Once you’ve decided on the exact mechanics of the scheme, make sure you communicate it to your customers. One great way of doing this is to include the details along with the confirmation email that you send to your customers when their item has shipped.
Pro-tip: 44% of consumers say a review must be written within one month to be considered relevant – so don’t think you’re off the hook if you have a smattering of reviews from years ago. Those aren’t good enough! You should be consistently bolstering your product page with new reviews.
Moving on to the second way in which eCommerce stores can utilize UGC:
You’ve already seen this in action with the Au Revoir Cinderella example that I mentioned earlier, but let’s take a look at how a couple of other brands do it…
Utilizing customer pictures is a quick and easy way of reassuring customers that what they see is indeed what they’ll get.
Customer pictures also help to give context, and illustrate the versatility of a product.
Take folli follie for example. With UGC in place, shoppers don’t need to crack their brains over how to pair their jewellery with the rest of their outfit – they can simply get inspiration from the pictures uploaded by Folli Follie’s customers.
Some parting words
Marketing used to be a numbers’ game. Marketers would spend as much money on display ads possible, with the reasoning that the more frequently consumers are exposed to their products, the more likely they would eventually make a purchase.
Then the world discovered ad blockers.
Today, the marketing landscape is radically different.
It’s no longer about shouting your message to your target audience as loudly as you can. It’s about engaging with them on a meaningful and authentic level.
UGC is one of the best ways to go about doing that.
Now that you know about some of the most effective UGC formats for eCommerce stores, take a look at the best available UGC tool on the market: Photoslurp.
You don’t need to implement all the different formats at once – in fact, I’d recommend starting off with just one format, so that you’re able to measure the results more accurately.
One last tip: do bear in mind that results will vary, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Don’t just use the one strategy that we’ve highlighted in this article that resulted in the highest conversion rates; instead, keep an open mind and try a variety of things.
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