Example of solicitation for visual commerce.

Example of solicitation for visual commerce.

Whether they’re selfies, #OOTD (outfit of the day) pictures, or tantalizing shots of brunch dishes, images from Instagram and other social media platforms are much more effective in inspiring and enticing consumers than traditional stock or catalog photos.

At this point, the question isn’t whether or not to utilize user generated pictures; rather, it’s about how to best solicit, find, acquire, moderate, curate, and display these images.

We’ve already discussed the permissions aspect of finding pictures and moderation in this blog postNow we’re going to focus on solicitation, or the process of asking your customers to submit photos for your use. Thankfully, there are many ways to do this.

Generally, you can ask customers to either upload images directly to your site, or to use your brand’s hashtag on their posts on Instagram, Facebook, and the like. While you should promote both methods when soliciting, it’s likely that hashtagging will be a much more fruitful endeavor than direct uploading. Consequently, your goal here is to get people to use your hashtag on their relevant pictures.

User images will largely be pictures of your customers using, wearing, and enjoying your products. Because of this, it makes sense to target your existing customers. Here are four ways to reach them.

1. On Your Website: You don’t necessarily need to take up much space on your website with calls to action (CTAs) for images, because not all of your site visitors will be current customers. Of course, though, when you have a gallery of user images, you’ll want to include some copy about how consumers can contribute more photos. Additionally, placing banners on your homepage, shopping cart page, and checkout page is a smart move. 

2. Right After They Order: It’s crucial to solicit recent customers right as they’re receiving their orders. You should include CTAs in order confirmation and shipping information emails to make customers aware as they eagerly await the arrival of their purchases. Don’t forget to include package inserts with their actual orders so they’ll know to snap a picture as soon as possible.

3. Remind Them With Email and Contests: Aside from these messages directly related to recent orders, you should email your whole customer list with weekly or biweekly solicitations. If you decide to run any special contests around user generated images, make sure to announce the start and end of those with special emails, too.

4. On Social Media: Naturally, you should frequently mention your hashtag in social media posts across all your channels. It’s particularly helpful to do so because when your audience sees these CTAs they’ll already be on the platforms that you’re asking them to use.

When you combine all of these solicitation best practices, you should have absolutely no problem coming up with user generated photos for your visual merchandising and marketing efforts. If you need more help with the process of collecting, curating, and displaying user photos, stay tuned!

 

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