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How To Encourage Your Customers To Share Your Brand On Instagram

Being in the retail space, word travels fast - from a great fitting blouse at the local, handmade shop down the street to excellent customer service at the chain-based department store in the middle of the city, word of mouth can come through many different forms. One of the greatest ways is through social media, where personal reviews and feedback can be shared through a variety of networks.

There’s no doubt that visuals impact buyer behavior, and visuals are primarily based on images for the retail space. Yet, not just any visual will do - it’s those that your target audience will be engaged with, those that are most likely to elicit an inquisitive nature with buyer behavior. Why? Because this is what your customers want to see, why they’ll interact with your brand, and how they will generate revenue for your business.

So why should you encourage your customers to share photos of your brand on Instagram?

83% of customers value peer - friend, family and other - recommendations and reviews  above professional content, like advertisements. Most brand managers read this statistic and think, “then what’s the point of investing in an Instagram strategy?”

The answer? Everything.

When your customers share photos of their experience in your retail location, and you share such photos, they’ll be inspired to take their own. This inspiration will lead to share them with their following, which creates user generated content, and the recommendations above. User generated content can be used as engagement on both social media (Instagram) and on your own website.

That’s why you need to focus on getting customers to share photos of your brand on Instagram. Here’s how.

1. Create a branded hashtag that is integrated throughout your marketing strategy.

Every brand needs a hashtag, whether location specific or applicable to the brand at-large. It’s a great idea to keep your hashtag unique and short.

The Gap has a great strategy with their photos. When featuring unique individuals, the brand uses the hashtag #MeetMeAtTheGap to express personality and real people wearing real clothing. For intimate products, such as night wear, the brand uses the hashtag #LoveByGapBody, which is the name of their label. All images include at least one of these hashtags, as all images are focused on people or labels.

2. Then, encourage your audience to use this hashtag.

There are so many ways that you can encourage your audience to use your branded hashtags (like The Gap examples above).

First things first, you should include these hashtags in all of your Instagram photos - though that’s not enough.

You can use the following three ways to encourage your audience to use your hashtags:

  1. Run a contest in your store. To incentivize your customers, run a contest in your store. To do this can be super easy - place a designed image at your Point of Sale (POS) and add a gift element, such as a gift card draw for everyone who uses the hashtag.
  2. Ask customers to share their photos after purchase. After a customer purchases one (or more!) of your products, encourage them to share a photo of it in the receipt email that you send to them, if your receipts are non-printed. This is great user generated content for the taking.
  3. Ask customers to post a review on Instagram through Stories. This is another great way to generate user generated content. Instagram Stories is an excellent way to engage with a new audience.

3. Include an advertising spend around Instagram hashtags

When using an Instagram Business Account, you have plenty of opportunity to take advantage of advertising spend. This can be supported around hashtags, which is a great way to showcase your images with a potentially new audience - and have them share their own!

A great example of user generated content is Coca-Cola’s #ShareACoke campaign, which used hashtags to create a globally successful marketing campaign, one that can be applied to the retail industry.

With the #ShareACoke campaign, purchasers of Coca-Cola took a photo and shared it with the hashtag to reach a North American-specific audience. Did you know that this led to an increase of 2% in sales throughout the United States?

Getting your retail audience to share photos of your product is a challenge that is not specific to any industry. After all, you must have an engaging brand that attracts a loyal following in order to have engaged users sharing their content on Instagram. With these tips and tricks, this can be made much easier. Your hashtag strategy is at the core of such an effort, so be sure to strategize this in-depth with your team. Above all, have fun! Instagram for retail is unique opportunity to tie brick and mortar with an innovative, online solution.