Visuals impact buyer behavior – there’s no doubt about it. But not just any visuals will have the impact you planned on your eCommerce marketing strategy, which is why you need to consider Consumer Generated Marketing aka UGC.
Let me tell you what I mean.
If the only images your customers see in relation to your eCommerce business look like they were taken in a studio with paid models, they might not be as likely to make a purchase. Why?
Because customers want to see real people using your products.
Our recent study showed that UGC photos are 5X more likely to convert compared to Professional Content (PC).
Further, according to Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising Report, 83 percent of consumers value peer recommendations and reviews above PC.
And when customers see you celebrating the community by sharing their photos, they’ll be inspired to take their own photos related to your brand and share them with their following. Your business can then use that User Generated Content to increase engagement both on social media and on your website. And the circle of engagement continues.
That’s why your eCommerce marketing strategy should include tactics that will encourage customers to post photos about your brand.
Now, you’re probably thinking:
Sounds great, but how do I get customers to post photos about my brand?
I got you covered. Here, I’m going to go over everything you need to know about getting your customers to create content for your brand.
How to get customers to post User Generated Content about your brand (even if you’re just starting out)
This is the stage where a lot of brands turn away from Consumer Generated Marketing. It sounds difficult to get people posting photos with your products, but once you get started, you’ll immediately witness the benefits of UGC. All you need is a few actionable strategies for getting your customers interested in engaging with your brand – and shouldn’t that always be the goal?
Here’s 7 great ways to grow your customer content database!
1. Create a branded hashtag for your Consumer Generated Marketing strategy
First of all, you need to figure out the perfect hashtag to represent your business. This seems like a given, but it’s a crucial part to the process. Without your hashtag, UGC platforms like Photoslurp, can’t collect your UGC, which means bye-bye Consumer Generated Marketing.
It’s often a good idea to keep it simple by using the name of your eCommerce store as the hashtag, but you may want to shorten or abbreviate it if you have a long name. Your customers may not be as likely to use your hashtag if it’s hard to spell or takes too long to type. (Read more about picking your hashtag in this article.)
For example, premium jeans brand Denham The Jeanmaker simply uses “#Denham” as their branded hashtag across all of their social media platforms.
Notice how they incentivise its use by offering to feature costumers on their account? This will become important further along in the process.
Alternatively, you can create a new hashtag that is separate from your brand name, if your brand name could signify something unrelated. Example: People aren’t always talking about computers when they post with #Apple. And Apple doesn’t want a bunch of pictures of the fruit in their UGC gallery. This becomes crucial when it comes to collecting UGC through your hashtag.
Instead, Apple uses #ShotOniPhone – which was also successful in creating one of the biggest, most well-known UGC campaigns.
This hashtag campaign is brilliant because it shows people the great quality iPhone cameras are capable of while also peaking everyone’s interest in sharing their own photo (because who wouldn’t want the chance to be featured??)
And you don’t have to be Apple to execute a successful Consumer Generated Marketing strategy.
Just get to crafting the perfect hashtag, but be careful with getting too creative. If you pick something super separate from your products, people may not associate it with your brand. And that means no one is going to use it!
Once you’ve got your hashtag, you can start promoting it any time you create branded social media posts. But don’t limit your marketing potential by just displaying the hashtag on social media – your Instagram bio is not enough! You can also use it on your product packaging, email signatures, brand merch and anything else customers see when they interact with your business.
Especially on your website – and I mean all over your website.
Fashion brand Double Agent has an entire page on their website dedicated to their hashtag – and they have a solid Consumer Generated Marketing strategy that lots of users have taken to.
They’ve even tacked on a second hashtag #dacommunity, which has done wonders for generating loyal UGC contributors. (Though don’t start adding double hashtags until your followers are actively using your original hashtag – this is next level!)
Another thing to mention: Double Agent has such a strong following and UGC strategy that, at this point, they only tag the user in the photo without including a shout-out in the caption. While this is a great goal to strive for, in the beginning it’s always best to give photo cred to the user in the caption.
That way, not only does the user feel especially lucky to be featured on your Instagram – as you’re specifically thanking them for their contribution – but all of your other followers are sure that it’s actually User Generated Content and not just sneaky promotional ads. (Plus, it’s more likely that the user will show off their shout-out to their friends like @thefityoungprofessional in this example!)
The more you promote your hashtag on your site and on social media, customers will begin to associate a specific hashtag with your brand and use the hashtag when they post photos that include your products.
Tip: Make sure your branded hashtag is evergreen. In other words, pick a hashtag you can use far into the future rather than one that’s only going to be relevant for a short amount of time. You don’t want your Consumer Generated Marketing strategies to be irrelevant in a mere months.
2. Ask your audience to use the hashtag
This seems like common sense, but surprisingly, many eCommerce brands don’t include it as part of their Consumer Generated Marketing strategy or don’t know how.
Check out how Doe Deere, founder of Lime Crime Makeup, asks her Facebook followers on Facebook to post pictures that include Lime Crime products:
When it comes directly from the source, people feel like posting a photo could really get them some actual human interaction from the brand.
Though, you don’t have to use a picture of yourself to create this kind of post if you don’t want to. You can post any photo that’s relevant to your audience, as long as you ask them to get involved.
And that’s not the only way to ask your customers to share User Generated Content on social media.
After a customer purchases one of your products, you can ask them to share a photo of it in the confirmation email and include a few social sharing buttons to make it easy on them. They’ll be excited to share their new favorite product with their family and friends, and that product will get more exposure online, which could result in some extra sales for your eCommerce business!
Remember: it never hurts to ask. And, the more places you put your hashtag including email marketing, product pages, all over social media, etc., the better chance you have of users jumping on the bandwagon!
And, depending on your product, you can get inventive in the kind of UGC you ask for. Easy Lunch Boxes encourages parents to get creative with their kids’ lunches and share the photos with #EasyLunchboxes.
It’s fun, and it challenges other users to do the same!
3. Create ad campaigns centered around unique hashtags related to your product
Creating an ad campaign that centers around a unique hashtag can be super successful because you’re asking your customers to share photos of them doing something. Not everyone is into taking shots of them simply wearing or using their product – they need you to tell them exactly what to do.
For example, Coca-Cola’s #ShareACoke campaign harnessed the power of hashtags to create a successful marketing campaign.
When customers purchased and enjoyed Coca-Cola products, they shared photos of themselves on social media with the #ShareACoke hashtag to be seen by a wide audience.
The company says the hashtag and photo campaign led to a 2 percent increase in U.S. sales after more than a decade of declining revenues.
Brilliant, right? The engagement possibilities are never-ending.
And one of the great things about this strategy is that you don’t need a huge budget to execute it. With knowledge of your target audience, you can easily create a hashtag and photo campaign that helps you spread the word about your products.
4. Use social sharing buttons on your website
Sure this seems basic. But there’s more to it then you might think.
Let’s talk about a couple of different ways you can approach this:
Method 1: Add social media buttons to your order confirmation and thank you pages.
Your most loyal customers are the ones most likely to share photos with their followers right after they purchase something from your store. So, target those customers with social media buttons that make the sharing process that much easier.
This eCommerce marketing strategy has been used successfully for years by tons of businesses. Amazon, for instance, increases the conversion rates of their “thank you” pages like this:
The moment customers choose to finalize their Amazon purchase, they’re given the option to tell the world all about it via their social media accounts.
If you encourage customers to share photos of themselves this way (perhaps also promoting your hashtag), it can seriously benefit your business – even if only a small percentage of customers click through.
Method 2: Place the buttons directly on product pages.
This makes it easy for customers to share the products they want to buy. They don’t have to spend time saving the image and pasting the link – all they need to do is click your social sharing button.
Here’s an example of how Rad, an online clothing store, uses social sharing buttons on their product pages:
You can see that their social sharing buttons are under the product photo, but you could put your buttons anywhere else on your product page. Modcloth puts their social sharing buttons near their “Add to Bag” button:
These buttons are subtle but still noticeable enough to catch a customer’s attention.
If you’re not sure where you should put your social buttons on your website, try A/B testing different locations to see which one produces the most social shares.
And avoid including an overwhelming amount of social sharing buttons – just pick the few social networks that are most popular with your customers.
5. Hold a contest
We’ve all seen Instagram contests, but they can do a lot more for your brand than just get eyes on your products.
If your business has a new product / promotional offer or you’re simply looking for another way to get more people posting on your hashtag, hold a photo submission contest to give prizes away to a select few. This method can help you engage with tons of new potential customers, get people using your hashtag and sharing UGC, build brand awareness, and ultimately drive sales.
But before you even think about starting a contest on social media, you need to figure out your goals in relation to the contest. Ask yourself what you want to accomplish, then you can accurately measure your results and adjust future strategies appropriately.
You’ll also want to think about your target audience and what kind of contest they’d be most likely to participate in. For example, a contest that targets 30-something moms requires asking for a different kind of photo submission than a contest that targets 14-year-old girls.
After that, figure out a budget and time frame for the contest, pick which social media sites you’ll run the contest on, and decide what the winner will receive.
Here’s an example of a contest run by Dylan’s Candy Bar:
For this contest, they told their social following to share a photo of their “best kissy face” and include “#thesweetestkiss” in the caption. By encouraging fans to submit photos this way, they were able to garner over 2 million impressions from the campaign.
As you get more people posting on your hashtag, even if it’s for contest participation, the more users will see your hashtag and learn more.
And luckily, UGC breeds UGC. Dylan’s is still using Consumer Generated Marketing to keep their followership interested in participating in the brand community.
To use this strategy effectively for your eCommerce store, decide on a contest theme that’s related to your product, and share an Instagram post encouraging users to share their photos.
For instance, if your business is a hiking gear company that wants to promote images of customers wearing your products in a specific setting – out in nature – you can create a contest for the best photos of customers in that setting.
Depending on your goals, you can either create a contest specific hashtag – this can perhaps encourage people to participate like #thesweetestkiss while making it easier to find all submissions – or use your brand hashtag with the goal of getting more people to use it even after the contest.
And voila, your business now has countless branded photos floating around on social media of customers wearing your hiking gear out in nature, which you can then user further in your Consumer Generated Marketing in a number of ways.
To learn more about what you can do with UGC once you’ve collected it – read this article.
6. Give away free products
Do you remember when Oprah Winfrey gave away free Pontiacs to everyone in her audience, and the world is constantly, collectively referencing it? We’ve all at one point or another been caught yelling, “You get a car! And you get a car! EVERYBODY GETS A CAR.”
Well after that, Pontiac saw a 600 percent increase in regular daily traffic on their website.
Okay, maybe giving away 276 new cars might be a bit outside of your price range.
But one thing is clear: everyone loves free stuff, so hosting a giveaway is a great method to incentivize social media engagement.
Let’s look at an example of Lonely Planet giveaway on Instagram.
Here, they’ve created a fresh new hashtag (#lpcityskyline) in order to collect all of their amazing cityscape UGC.
With such a great giveaway up for offer – $4,500 on your next trip! – why wouldn’t someone take a picture and share it? Then, you’re not only accumulating User Generated Content that you can feature across your eCommerce efforts, but you also get more people engaging with the brand.
While giveaways can get expensive if you do them all the time, remember how much you benefit when it comes to brand awareness.
It’s all about the return on your investment. The more exposure your products get, the stronger your customer engagement will be, and the better chance you have of creating a community and ultimately driving product sales.
Want more on Instagram contests or giveaways? You can check this out.
7. Post customer photos on your website and social media
Everyone loves being recognized by the brands they adore and support. So, if you use your eCommerce website to share User Generated photos, you can enhance user engagement dramatically AND get more people buying your products.
By highlighting customer photos and reposting them on your own social media pages, you can take advantage of one of the most efficient methods for encouraging customer engagement and conversions. Customers will see photos you post and realize that they too can create their own to share with you, then they’ll buy a product to make it happen.
For example, Ulanka uses their online store and social media to feature user photos like this:
These images are free promotion for Ulanka and make other customers want to purchase the products featured in the images.
Want to use this Consumer Generated strategy for your eCommerce business?
Use Photoslurp to collect photographs from across social networks that feature your products organically and proudly display them on your website to increase conversions.
Time to kickstart your Consumer Generated Marketing strategy
As you can see, there are several ways to encourage your customers to post photos related to your eCommerce brand and draw more attention to your products.
Remember that engagement like this also involves creating a real dialogue with your customers. Through the use of promotional hashtags, contests, and giveaways, you can join the conversation surrounding your brand on social media to generate stronger brand loyalty.
And last but not least, checking out all the different ways your customers enjoy your product can be incredibly rewarding! Not only do you get the satisfaction of knowing you created a great product, but you also learn a lot about new ways of engaging your target customers.
Now, I want to hear from you. Which of these Consumer Generated Marketing tactics will you use to amass UGC? Let me know in the comments section below!
If you want more on UGC, visit our extensive guide on User Generated Content.