How many of your customers are using their mobile device appendages to capture photos? A study conducted by Edelman and Shutterfly this year reports that 81% of US photo-takers (people who have taken at least 10 digital photos in the three months prior to polling) have done so using their smart phones.
Consider the fact that at least two-thirds of Americans own a smart phone (according to Engadget), and the possibilities for enterprising brands are exciting. The study findings indicated that 40% of those who took digital pictures with their smart phones did so at least daily, with 24% shooting multiple times a day.
Are You Leveraging Photo-Happy Customers?
Estimates from Instagram have over one hundred thirty million people share photos and videos on the social network every month, many of them posting their favorite hobbies, locations, and brands. How well is your brand represented in among this sea of user-generated content?
Last year, SnapMyAd, an enterprising start up began rewarding people for taking pictures of ads and sharing them across various social networks. The app features a variety of photo contests, boasting over $1,000 in rewards across different industries, to help monetize the growing trend of visually documenting our experiences.
Using third party apps isn’t the only way to capitalize on the trend however. In fact, we recommend incorporating your audience’s love of photo taking and sharing, powered by instant access to high-quality digital cameras within their smart phones, into a voluntary advocacy campaign instead.
Happy Customers + Smart Phones = Increased Sales
The most loyal fans and advocates share products and experiences they love voluntarily. Further, product shots that become part of an unsolicited customer testimonial has more sway over the purchase decision of like-minded and relevant followers than incentivized social sharing, a fact proven in the research conducted for Influence Marketing: How to Create, Manage, and Measure Brand Influencers in Social Media Marketing.
Consider the following to encourage unsolicited yet rewarding photo sharing among your customer base:
- Provide the framework. Consider offering a community site (not just a Facebook page) where photos can be shared, rated, and/or commented on. You may also wish to consider establishing a hashtag that people can use when posting the photos.
- Don’t be afraid to ask. Like poor salesman, many businesses are simply afraid to ask customers to step up and share their love of the product. If you never ask, you’ll never receive.
- Acknowledge consumers. True advocates of a brand become advocates because of their real love of the product, the customer experience, or how well that product serves them. Simply acknowledging customers with a thank you or allowing them to become part of a fan community is often more than enough to get true advocates to take and post photos of them using your product. How often have you seen Apple offer cash incentives for customer advocacy? Right, they don’t.
- Remember it’s about their lifestyle, not your product. No matter how good a shoe Air Jordans may be, the social cache of owning and wearing them is far greater than the utilitarian excellence of the basketball shoe. When encouraging photo sharing, frame the request in a way that encourages customers to share their lifestyle using the product, not just a photo of the product itself.
- Offer photo-editing software. Whether you choose to develop your own, white-label an open source product or partner with an existing software provider, offering a photo-editing software where customers can enhance or embellish their photos with more of their personality will generate a bigger response.
- Use consumer-generated photos and videos in advertising. GoPros affixed to the helmets of skiers, snowboarders, and BASE jumpers have provided some of the incredible footage for some of the coolest television commercials made. Instagram photos from fashionistas and foodies are becoming highly sought after sources for catalogues and commercial sites.
Do cash incentives (such as contests, etc.) increase the likelihood that consumers will take and share brand photos online? If yes, does that extra volume correlate to more noise or greater sales?
Feed Your Community, Not Your Ego