The Anatomy of Selfies That Sell

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Using Consumer Photos to Boost Sales and Conversions

User-generated photos are among the most authentic and compelling brand assets available today—and thanks to the mass adoption of smartphones and the explosive growth of Instagram and other photo-sharing platforms, they’re also ubiquitous. Nearly one trillion photos were taken in 2014, or 25% of all the pictures snapped in the first 170 years of the medium’s existence. Presently, Instagram’s 300 million active users post 70 million photos per day, and 350 million photos are uploaded daily to Facebook.

While this so-called “selfie revolution” presents an unprecedented opportunity to leverage visual user-generated content (UGC) to drive sales and build invaluable brand equity, most brands are just beginning to explore how best to tap into its incredible potential. Following is a quick overview of how visual commerce is changing the way we shop, and some best practices for using UGC photos for optimal results.

Shoppers use and trust customer photos

How much trust do shoppers place in visual UGC? In short: a lot—and it’s growing every day. In fact, 63% of U.S. consumers trust customer photos more than brand or retailer photos, while 54% have postponed or decided against a purchase due to unhelpful product photos.

UGC photos convert browsers into buyers

Visual UGC drives measurable results. On average, Olapic clients see a 4.6% conversion rate when customer photos are displayed on a product detail page, which jumps to 9.6% when visitors interact with these photos (nine per visit on average)—meaning interaction nearly doubles conversion.

Photo placement makes a difference

How customer photos are displayed on product pages and within galleries matters. Recent Olapic tests indicate that aligning customer photos with product photos and displaying customer photos above text reviews and related items lead to higher conversion rates.

Mix UGC and high-quality product photos for best results

When it comes making UGC “shoppable,” it’s all about the mix. Seamlessly complementing the authenticity of customer photos with the crispness and consistency of high-quality studio shots maximizes the interplay between earned and owned content, inspiring shoppers to buy.

Promote visual UGC with compelling calls to action

Prominent, on-brand calls to action shine a spotlight on customer photos. Place them on your most-visited pages and at key points throughout the customer journey—such as social posts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), TV commercials, packaging inserts, email, and even billboards—to drive engagement.

Savvy brands are leveraging UGC to boost their bottoms lines

The list of brands capitalizing on the power of visual UGC in innovative ways gets longer literally every day. For example, when Olapic client New Balance launched a UGC campaign to celebrate a new collaboration with Heidi Klum, it collected over 6,000 Instagram shots tagged #HKNB and linked them directly to products, resulting in a whopping 39% conversion rate increase.

Top brands like Anthropologie, Calvin Klein, Guess, Hard Rock, Lancome, West Elm, Unilever, and Ulta now populate product pages with customer photos—and are reaping the rewards.

About the Author

Olapic is the leading visual marketing platform that empowers brands across multiple verticals such as apparel, beauty, CPG, luxury and travel to leverage consumer-generated photo and video content to drive sales and increase customer engagement. Prior to joining Olapic in January 2013, Daniel was a senior account executive at Lotame, where he worked closely with online publishers, advertising agencies and direct brands. He double-majored in Chinese and Economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.