photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc
photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc

Wouldn’t it be great if our customers created content for us? Most small businesses struggle to find the time and expertise to constantly create their own quality content. There are a few tactics you can use to plug the gap.

1. You can curate content from other sources that would appeal to your audience.
2. You can persuade your customers to share their own content.

Today I’m going to look at some techniques businesses use to get their customers sharing their own photos. Let me know if you’ve tried any of these or something else.

1. Run a contest

Before you run a contest on social media that requires people to create content for you you must have an active audience. If you do this could be a really good way to get more customer generated content. It can be hard to get the first few entries for a photo or video contest but once the first few are in you will find that others follow.

Pet Sitters Ireland (a client) are currently running a contest to appeal to their pet loving audience. ‘The Nose Of Tralee’ is a parody of the famous ‘Rose Of Tralee’ and asks people to enter their pets in the Ireland wide contest.

Paritcipants can encourage their friends to vote for their pet and a judging panel of expert will help choose the finalists.

This gives Pet Sitters a whole wealth of content to share. Their photo album ‘2014 Nose Of Tralee Competition ‘ is updated twice a week with the latest entries. This makes for highly shareable content.

5 Ways To Encourage Your Customers To Create & Share Images

On Twitter the Eden Project encourage sharing by asking people to tag their photos with the #edenphotocomp . You will see signs displaying the hashtag when you visit. They re-share their favourite pics and there are monthly winners.

5 Ways To Encourage Your Customers To Create & Share Images

2. Reward fans

It’s not always necessary to run a contest to get fans sharing. Dublin Zoo encourage people to share their visitor images on the page. These images are added to a photo album that is shared regularly. They also use them for ‘caption this’ and other content.

5 Ways To Encourage Your Customers To Create & Share Images

Those who share the photos are delighted and as you can see from the number of shares on this photo album others are sharing too.

5 Ways To Encourage Your Customers To Create & Share Images

3. Are your fans sharing already

The Glasnevin Museum twitter feed is full of images from people who have visited the museum or the cemetery. Some of them are directed at the @GlasnevinMuseum Twitter account but others just mention Glasnevin in the text of the Tweet.

5 Ways To Encourage Your Customers To Create & Share Images

Whoever is behind the Twitter account using a Twitter search tool to find mentions of the town and local area.

Here’s how you can use Twitter search or Topsy to do this

4. Hashtags

Hashtags are huge on Instagram, users will add multiple tags. If you find that your customers are already sharing images on Instagram or Facebook give them a tag they can add. This is particularly useful if you are running an event.

Below you can see the #BlogAwardsIE tag was used extensively on Instagram at last years Blog Awards Ireland event. You can expect to see many more this year as Instagram gains popularity.

5 Ways To Encourage Your Customers To Create & Share Images

If you are running an event it’s a good idea to show a live stream of images as they are uploaded to Instagram and Twitter.  I’ve been looking at Eventstagram , an app that allows you to easily display your live stream and am hoping to trial it at this years Blog Awards event.

When people see images appearing on the screen they will be keen to see their own work up there too.

5. Be photogenic

Is there something on your premises that people will want their photograph taken with? Maybe you have a quirky mural, an odd prop, an old street sign? Encourage those who visit to pose for a photo with your oddity, print them out and make a photo wall of them to encourage more to take part. You will soon find that people will come looking for the photo op when they visit.

The 1888 hotel in Sydney have taken this one step further with their ‘Instagram hotel’. Not only is it designed to be extrememly photogenic but they have a ‘Selfie’ space where residents can pose inside a frame for the perfect Insta selfie.

5 Ways To Encourage Your Customers To Create & Share Images

On their Instagram account they share shots others have taken in their hotel with the tag #1888hotel.

5 Ways To Encourage Your Customers To Create & Share Images

Not all of us can go this far but the idea of a selfie space is something a lot of small businesses could easily implement.

Your Turn

That’s my five tips. What are you doing to encourage user generated content? What has been successful for you? Leave me a comment below.

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