Updated: Apr 22
In the age of social media, everyone’s a critic. Everyone is also a photographer, a movie reviewer, a business consultant, and an art director. Social media users are constantly advertising where they’ve been, what they’re eating, who they’re with, and what they’re buying. Humans are innately curious creatures, and this up-to-the-minute window into the lives of others feeds our fascination with our fellows. It also provides an invaluable opportunity for businesses to showcase their products and services in the real world. While the uncontrollable frenzy of social media can seem like a bear to any business owner, the best strategy for your marketing initiatives may be to harness that energy for good.
Consider the user-generated photo. Professionally-shot or stock photos look great and lend a cleanliness to your website, but users can tell that they aren’t real. What current and potential clients do trust are photos of your products in their natural habitat, i.e., your store or showroom or office. Take Hostelworld’s recent overhaul of their website in this video case study. The worldwide hostel booking site tossed out their professionally-shot marketing photos in favor of strictly user-generated content. Now, whenever a traveler searches for accommodations on the site, the photos that come up were taken by others who actually stayed in these places. Following this strategy implementation, Hostelworld was able to increase its followers by 25%, with only 13% of its annual ad spend. Authentic photo evidence has become the deciding factor in many travelers’ booking process. And thanks to high-quality, camera-laden smartphones and image-sharing platforms like Instagram, billions of people worldwide are empowered to deliver valuable, honest, and beautifully-shot information to fellow consumers.
If you can’t justify or afford to take the Hostelworld track and throw out all your marketing photos, at least feature a healthy dose of your products or services being performed in real life, whether on your website or your social media accounts. Invite your customers to help advertise your business by posting their own photos on social media. Encourage them to use your unique hashtags, and to tag your business in their posts. We’ve mentioned in an earlier blog post that potential clients trust others’ opinions of a product or business–hence why the threat of a bad Yelp review is usually so effective when a customer is displeased. But instead of having to take the offensive when a customer threatens a negative review, be proactive and invite your loyal clients to show the world what you have to offer.
Invite your customers to help advertise your business by posting their own photos on social media.
When it comes to marketing your business, your customers are your most valuable asset. So use what you’ve got–you’ll be surprised and delighted at what your biggest fans come up with!