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How to Get Your Customers to Take Your Best Instagram Photos

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Having your business on Instagram isn’t just a matter of getting an account and sharing photos with your followers. A sound Instagram strategy should also include encouraging your customers to share their photos of your business with their followers.

Why is incorporating customer photos important for your Instagram marketing strategy? When a customer posts an image of your product to her followers, she’s giving a peer-to-peer recommendation. This exposure is infinitely more valuable to a potential customer than any photo you might post. It makes sense when you think about it: when you buy a book on Amazon, which descriptions do you take more to heart — the synopsis provided by the book publisher or the user reviews?

You can’t (or shouldn’t) buy this kind of word-of-mouth marketing. But you should invest in ways to encourage others to share photos of your business in action.

If you have a storefront, provide opportunities for customers to what I call “snap and share.”

I love what Ann Taylor LOFT has done. It must’ve noticed that customers snapped Instagram selfies (self-portraits) while in the dressing room trying on new clothes. So it set up these signs in the changing rooms to encourage ladies to “snap and share” with their social media connections.

Instagram Selfie Photo Promotion at Ann Taylor Loft

So that LOFT can easily find these photos, it requests that these selfies use the hashtag #haveamoment. By monitoring this hashtag, LOFT can gather market feedback on its latest apparel.

Whole Foods Market used to be incredibly adverse to customers taking photos in its stores. But as mobile image sharing proliferated, its photo-taking policies did a 180. These days I can’t go two aisles without seeing a reminder from Whole Foods to “share your pics with us.”

To make photo sharing fun, my local Whole Foods Market installed this put-your-head-through structure next to the dining tables where families take a break from shopping to eat pizza on whole wheat crust or a 9-pack of avocado sushi (our family’s favorite). Note that the peek-a-boo hole is about 4 feet tall — clearly designed for a caretaker to take a photo of her child and share it with her friends.

Whole Foods Market Instagram Photo Opportunity

Marshall’s recently provided incentive for customers to snap and share in its stores, as seen in this “Check U Out” photo.

Marshalls Instagram Selfie Opportunity and Contest

The stores’ marketers plan to monitor the hashtag #fabfound on Instagram, Twitter, and G-d help them, Facebook and give $50 to the best mobile Ansel Adams.

You need not have a storefront to prod users to snap and share.  Consider these variants.

  • Does your business do a lot of live events? If so, post signs similar to what you’ve seen in this article at your event booth.
  • If you’re a public speaker, tell your audience that you relish real-time photo taking. (Before I begin my talks, I tell audiences that “I have a perfect face for Twitter. So snap away.”)
  • Incorporate snap and share-type messaging in your product design. That reminder will prod a user to take a photo of your product, whether it is an energy drink or an academic textbook, while it is on top of a customer’s mind.

In what ways does your business encourage customers and clients to snap and share photos about your business? What are some methods you might try in the near future?

 Photo credits: Cover from Canva; all others from my Flickr account

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  1. I’ve said it before, Lisa, and I’ll say it again – I thoroughly enjoy your articles! You always seem to take a slightly different, fresher approach to your social media analyses. These real-life examples of big brands encouraging user-generated content on IG are awesome. They make for most excellent suggestions for how brands should think outside the box when it comes to collecting fan photos and other UGC.

    Do you know if the brands you mention use a third-party software to monitor the IG activity (I’m thinking something like Olapic or MomentFeed)? Or does it seem as though most of them are just using IG’s native features?

    Awesome stuff, keep it coming!

    • Lisa Kalner Williams

      Julian — Thanks for the feedback and for being such a dedicated reader! It’s funny that you mention tools — I’m slated to write something soon on Instagram tools and apps. I don’t know what these three brands use, but Tagboard is a great tool for tracking hashtags across multiple platforms (inc. Instagram). As far as geo-based hashtags, OnInstagram is pretty good in terms of a city — I can’t get it to work with a particular storefront, though. And for paid products, Nitrogram is a pretty sound product.

      Hope that helps. And thanks again for the kind words. You are awesome!

  2. GREAT post, Lisa! I really like what LOFT is doing – it’s a fantastic example of how listening to customers can make a major difference. Excited, happy customers are absolutely a brand’s best advocate!

    The trick for most lies in capturing them at the precise moment they are most inclined to share.

    • Lisa Kalner Williams

      Exactly! And for LOFT, that “moment” is the sanctuary of a dressing room with a full-length mirror. They realize that even if the customer doesn’t buy the outfit, she has given the store great social proof through her selfie. Genius.


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