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.
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.
Because customers want to see real people using your products.
According to Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising Report, 83 percent of consumers value peer recommendations and reviews above professional content.
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.
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 which tactics are most effective?
Keep reading. Today, I’m going to go over everything you need to know about getting your customers to post user-generated content about your brand on social media.
How to Get Customers to Post User-generated Content About Your eCommerce Brand (Even if you’re just starting out)
Create a branded hashtag for your eCommerce marketing strategy
First of all, you need to figure out the perfect hashtag to represent your business.
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 how to create a hashtag for your brand in this article)
For example, Lime Crime Makeup simply uses “#LimeCrime” as their branded hashtag across all their social media platforms.
Once you’ve got your hashtag, you can start using it any time you create branded social media posts.
But don’t limit your marketing potential by just using the hashtag on social media – you can also use it on your product packaging, email signature, and anything else customers see when they interact with your business.
That way, customers will begin to associate a specific hashtag with your brand and use the hashtag when they post photos that include your products. (Plus, you’ll need a branded hashtag to execute several of the other strategies in this blog post!)
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.
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 eCommerce marketing strategy.
Check out how Doe Deere, founder of Lime Crime Makeup, asks her Facebook followers to post pictures that include Lime Crime products:
Simple enough, right?
You don’t have to use a picture of yourself to create this kind of post if you don’t want to. You can just post a photo that’s relevant to your audience and ask them to post product pictures that include your branded hashtag.
But 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!
Create ad campaigns centered around unique hashtags related to your product
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.
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.
Use social sharing buttons on your website
Let’s talk about a couple 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 making use of a clever 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, and you can bet that they result in tons of social shares that help each brand drive sales.
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.
Hold a contest
If your business has a new product or promotional offer, 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, 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 you so can plan to measure your results and adjust your strategy accordingly.
Establishing rules for the contest is important too. For instance, you’ll want to promote original content creation as a requirement to entry – you don’t want your customers submitting someone else’s work to be featured on your site without their knowledge.
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 a vastly different approach 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 simply told their social following to share a photo of their “best kissy face” and include “#thesweetestkiss” in the hashtag somewhere. By encouraging fans to submit photos this way, they were able to garner over 2 million impressions from just 75 photos.
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 similar to the one above. And make sure you create a contest-specific hashtag to use so you can easily identify participants.
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 somewhere, maybe – you can create a contest for the best photos of customers in that setting.
Because customers then share their images with your specific contest hashtag, you’ll only have to search for posts using that hashtag. And voila, your business now has countless branded photos floating around on social media of customers wearing your hiking gear out in nature.
Tip: Give users a way to share your contest across all the relevant social networks through onsite social buttons like Add This.
Give away free products
Do you remember when Oprah Winfrey gave away free Pontiacs to everyone in her audience back in 2004? 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 how the Tinytangerines store hosted a holiday giveaway on Instagram.
You can see that she created a unique hashtag for her giveaway and created a specific set of rules and instructions that each participant must follow. On top of that, she’s being pretty generous by giving away 4 items, which entices more people to participate.
When someone enters the giveaway by sharing her photo, the 4 products featured in the photo get free exposure. And anyone who likes ones of those products is likely to visit her shop and consider making a purchase.
While giveaways can get expensive if you do them all the time, remember how much they benefit you 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 at driving product sales.
Post customer photos on your website and social media
Everyone loves being recognized by the brands they love and support. So, if you use your eCommerce website to share user-generated photos, you can enhance user engagement dramatically.
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 conversion customer engagement. Customers will see photos you post and realize that they too can create their own to share with you.
For example, Kenneth Cole uses their online store and social media to feature user photos like this:
These images are free promotion for Kenneth Cole and make other customers want to purchase the products featured in the images.
Want to use this 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.
Over to you
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 tactics will you use to drive user-generated content sharing? Let me know in the comments section below!