Instagram: How to benefit from user-generated content
With now over 100 million active users , Instagram offers a great opportunity for brands to improve their visibility and relationship with their target audience . By knowing how to benefit from the significant amount of user-generated content on this photo-sharing social network, a brand can reach out more to their target audience without necessarily creating new content. To help you take advantage of it, here are some great tips, tools, and examples to help you use Instagram to its full potential.
DISCOVER EXISTING PHOTOS USING #HASHTAGS
According to a recent study, around 3,600 photos are shared on Instagram every minute . In addition, one of the beauties of the network is that unlike Facebook, the majority of photos shared on the network are public. You can also find photos by subject when users use # hashtags , like with Twitter. So, by using free web tools like Webstagram , you can discover an array of interesting photos about your brand or, akin to your brand image. Start by researching your brand name, products, and relevant keywords to uncover interesting photos.
DISCOVER PHOTOS OF YOUR PLACES OF INTEREST
Instagram allows users to tag their photos according to the places where they are taken and this function allows you to search for photos according to the places. Use tools, including Worldc.am , to find all the photos taken in your stores or at events your brand is associated with . Also consider researching locations or events that appeal to your target customers in order to interact with them, understand their behavior and discover interesting ideas for Instagram campaigns.
INTERACT WITH EXISTING PHOTOS
Researching photos allows you to better understand the behavior of your target customers on Instagram, but also to interact with their photos in order to create or strengthen your relationship with them. Take the opportunity to like or comment on the photos of your products or those taken in your stores to show your fans that you appreciate their participation, as the online clothing store Frank & Oak does very well . Of course, you don't absolutely have to like and comment on every single photo, but if they are in good taste, it will make users happy to see that you are listening.
REPOST THE BEST PHOTOS ON YOUR ACCOUNT
Instagram does not have an inherent function to repost other people's photos. However, the Statigram website makes it easy for you to do this. With the click of a button, the site reposts another user's photo to your account, acknowledging the original source and allowing you to add your own message. Use this feature to repost your fans' best photos to your own account . Also take advantage of the message that you can add to the photo to mention the username of the author of the image, give them credit for the photo, strengthen your relationship with them, show the commitment of your customers and encourage your other subscribers to share photos of your products in turn. Note that it is good practice to Ask permission from the author of a photo before reposting it .
ENCOURAGE USERS TO SHARE PHOTOS OF YOUR PRODUCTS
Along with existing content, it's also great to find ways to encourage your current customers to share photos of your products. This is advantageous because you will gain visibility in the eyes of their friends . New York's Comodo restaurant got it right by adding the hashtag #comodomenu to their menu and encouraging people to share photos of their meal on Instagram . In addition, during the moment of decision to buy at the restaurant, people are also encouraged to search for the hashtag #comodomenu on Instagram to determine which dish to choose.
GIVE YOUR AUDIENCE PHOTO THEMES
The Montreal Gazette also encourages their subscribers to share photos on Instagram to increase their visibility. However, instead of sharing photos from the Gazette, they give fans a theme every Friday and encourage them to post photos of this theme in Montreal with the hashtag #mtlfriday. Thereafter, the Gazette will republish the best photos on their own account, mention the username of the author, put the photos forward on the website and even add them to a page of the newspaper.
This creates a fun weekly activity that builds and strengthens customer relationships and even guides Instagram users to the Gazette's website and purchase. In addition, given the themes around Montreal, the Gazette is really positioned as a purely Montreal brand in the eyes of users. The #mtlfriday hashtag has been used with more than 17,000 photos so far .
PUT CONTENT FORWARD ON YOUR WEBSITE
Finally, using the Instagram API , it is possible to put photos shared by users directly on your website . Some already built applications including those of Webstagram exist to add your photo gallery to your web page.
However, it can be even more interesting to use Instagram's API to create a personalized photo gallery by importing photos with a hashtag , taken at a specific location or from a specific user. One of the best examples of this practice can be found on the Norway tourism site which collects all photos with the hashtag #visitnorway by date. Adding the photos to your site shows site visitors people's engagement with your brand and strengthens the connection with the people who have shared their photos .
All in all, the Instagram network is an excellent tool for interacting with your current customers and getting discovered by potential customers. A good user-generated content strategy complemented by your own content creation can give a good boost to your social media visibility . For more examples and tips on using Instagram for brands, the Instagram blog is also a great tool to help you out.