7 Effective Ways to Get Your Visitors to Share More Photos

I’m sure you’ve heard the old adage, “Sharing is caring.”

But in the world of destination marketing, sharing is currency.

When your visitors share the photos they’ve taken, they’re putting the authentic experiences they’ve had with your brand out into the world. You gain social proof, engagement with your brand, and more sources of inspiration to entice new potential visitors.

Content your customers create for you is also one of the most powerful forms of promotion out there.

So if you want to get seen and heard in your niche, you want to encourage your visitors to share more photos.

Here are 7 ways you can do just that: 

1 | Create a dedicated hashtag for photos and use it to post to your own channels regularly

The first thing you want to do is make sure you’ve got a hashtag people know they can use when posting photos! So put it in your Twitter and Instagram bio, and share your own photos with it too.

Show the social community that you’re active (and love showcasing beautiful photos!).

Buffer recommends posting once a day on Instagram for brands.

Too busy to take a new photo each day? Well, your visitors aren’t!

Take advantage of the photos they’re already sharing, and, if they give permission, repost them. And this is where your hashtag can come in handy:


2 | Engage with people who are posting about you

What’s the difference between talking to a) a human vs. b) a pet rock?

Well for starters, a human responds and reacts to what you say. A human is fun to talk to. You’re more likely to keep talking to a human.

It’s simple: the more you engage with people that are talking about you, the more people are going to talk to you.

Whether it’s an Insta photo or a tweet you’re mentioned in, shoot a quick like or comment, and keep the conversation around your brand going!

Because it can seem daunting to reply to every single mention or interaction, Tourism Toronto actually uses CrowdRiff to help do this at scale.


Your active engagement shows that you’re listening, and that encourages people to keep sharing more.

3 | Get a boost from influencers

Influencers have the ability to reach different followers from you. Working with them expands your reach and visibility.

But how can they help you get more user-generated content?

Hashtags and locations that influencers share photos of get a lot of visibility, so the more influencers invested in your location or destination, the more prominent you can become.

So once you identify influencers you want to work with, here are some things you can consider doing:

  • Ask them to share a photo with your hashtag at a landmark or business you want to promote
  • Invite them to do a social media takeover (Destination BC hosts some amazing ones on their Instagram!)
  • Invite them to a special promotional event (maybe that’s a food/coffee crawl, a preview of an exhibit, etc.) 

The Guggenheim Museum in New York City has developed a masterful strategy for that last idea.

When a new exhibit is about to launch, the museum organizes meetups of social influencers and members for a preview. Only 20 people are allowed, and they’re given free reign of the halls to snap photos  that will be seen by millions, and generate excitement to entice new visitors to come explore the exhibit for themselves.

4 | Reward people for using your official hashtag and posting photos

Now this doesn’t (neccessarily) mean sending a prize to each person who shares about you.

Something as simple as a “Thanks for sharing!” or “Nice pic!” that you leave on their photo will do the trick.

This shows that you’re engaged with the community, and encourages people to keep sharing what you’re offering.

Another way to reward users is to re-share their photos and posts, with permission, to give them some extra visibility. Hosting a gallery on your website to feature your favorite visitor photos on your site is one of our favorite ways to recognize and showcase these images. 


This kind of engagement shows that you value what people are sharing. And that’s great encouragement to keep sharing more photos.

5 | Start a Photo of the Day/Week social campaign

Once a day (or week) choose one great visitor photo you want to highlight, and share it! It’s an easy way to both promote your destination, and incentivize people to share great photos. 

Visit Houston does an excellent job of encouraging visitor photos by sharing a #PhotoofTheDay with their 64,000 followers on Twitter.

Not only does this encourage tourists, locals, and prospective visitors to post beautiful images of the city, it gives great local photographers a reason to really strive to capture Houston in its best light.

Top tip: If you’re reposting a photo, ask for permission in advance, and remember to give photo creds!

6 | Ask great questions to solicit photos

Sometimes all it takes is a little prompting to get that photo activity rolling.

You can tweet something as simple as, “What’s your go-to spot at [your destination]? Show us your photos and tag us with #hashtag!”

The Wellcome Collection, a museum in London, goes one step further by inviting its visitors to share their thoughts on the permanent Wellcome Medicine Man exhibit on social media, with the prompt “This makes me feel…” and the hashtag #MuseumFeels.

Museum staff then print out their favorite responses from Instagram, and display them on clipboards inside the exhibit.

It gives visitors both the inspiration and incentive to share meaningful photos of their experience with the museum. 

7 | Create photo-ready spots

Nothing prompts people to snap an Insta pic faster than a dedicated photo-op spot with a hashtag.

The beautiful Distillery District in Toronto has quite a few popular sites that people love taking photos at — like in front of their iconic LOVE installation.

Loved when @rocketman3_ was here to pose for my photos! 📷 #seetorontonow

A photo posted by Shri (@shridevij) on

Taking advantage of this, Glade created a similar sign, saying JOY, and strategically placed the punny hashtag #feelglade in front of it.

The result? Thousands of photos about Glade shared to Instagram.

Think about creating a dedicated photo sharing spot the next time you host an event or festival. And in many cases, you could even consider a permanent hashtag sign to an already popular photo-spot.

Now it’s your turn

Asking your visitors to take and share photos doesn’t have to be a game of cat and mouse.

Take these easy tips and watch as your visitors get excited to share more photos.

Happy sharing!

For more helpful tips and tricks on visual marketing, visual influence, and social media, subscribe to our bi-weekly newsletter!

*Updated post. Originally published Oct 26, 2015

Unconventional Ways Museums Can Use UGC to Promote their Exhibits

A museum posts a photo of one of their pieces. It’s a striking work, and its vibrant colors jump off against the white walls. 

But what makes it particularly interesting is the young woman in front of it. She’s swayed to the side, inspecting, admiring.

Her presence in this photo is compelling. You might wonder: “What does she see, and what is she thinking? How is she connecting with this piece?”

This photo now captures not just the painting itself, but the experience of the visitor that took it.

This is a user-generated photo — a photo one of this museum’s visitors have taken themselves. The scene is unposed and real.

That’s just one example of the way user-generated content can transform the way museums can captivate and engage visitors.

User-generated content (or UGC) is anything shared by customers and patrons about an organization — from reviews on Yelp, or photos on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and beyond.

Reposting and sharing the UGC photos on your museum’s social media profiles and website, and in ads and print brochures (with permission), is an excellent way not just to showcase current exhibits and galleries, but also to reveal how visitors are authentically interacting with and enjoying their experience.

The “real time” feel of UGC allows potential customers to see themselves in the role of museum patron, and makes it easier for them to decide to learn more about you, and even pay your museum a visit to experience it for themselves.

So don’t be limited to simply retweeting photos on social media.

Here are 5 unconventional ways to use UGC to promote your exhibits (that you probably haven’t thought of!):

1 | Make visitors a part of the exhibit themselves

The Wellcome Collection is a museum located in London, with a unique and ingenious way of encouraging its visitors to become a part of the exhibit themselves.

Wellcome invites its visitors to share their thoughts on the permanent Wellcome Medicine Man exhibit on social media, with the prompt “This makes me feel…”, and the hashtag #MuseumFeels. Museums staff prints out and display their favorite responses from Instagram on clipboards inside the exhibit.This works in two ways:

  1. It captures an experience and makes that a part of the exhibit
  2. It inspires visitors to share photos of it with their reflections on social media, building buzz around the exhibit as a result

The prompt, “This makes me feel…” also invites creativity, reflection, and even humor — making the responses a wonderful addition to the exhibit.

2 | Use UGC photos as an anchor for promotional text

Do you have an exhibit going on that you’d like to promote?

Try taking a leaf out of the British Museum’s playbook. They regularly share photos taken by visitors, with additional explanations about the exhibits and architecture: 

Offering a back story like this doesn’t just give followers an insider’s look at the history of the museum and its many impressive exhibits, but also uses authentic imagery created by patrons to showcase what visitors are finding most fascinating and beautiful.

If you want to promote an exhibit (or any element of your museum) on social media, use a visitor photo, and tag your promotional text into the caption. You’re bringing your customers into the loop, and that’s proven to make your promotions 28% more effective.

3 | Incorporate UGC photos into each exhibit page on your website

How many exhibits do you host each year? And how many professional photos do you take for each?

Commissioning photography can get expensive — but your visitors are already taking countless photos at each of your exhibits. And each of their photos bring a different, unique perspective to your museum. 

You can take advantage of this collection of photos by showcasing a gallery of user-generated photos on each exhibit page. This is something that the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and the Connor Prairie museum do really well (which we’ve shared in this blog post).


Visitors are generally happy to give photo rights to the organizations they’re excited about (so long as they ask). This means that each exhibit gets a multitude more visual content for web visitors to explore. 

What’s more, stats show that “70% of consumers trust online peer reviews and recommendations more than professional content and copy” — so a strategy like this serves to both strengthen your existing visitor relationships, and convince new visitors to come visit.

4 | Hype up new collections/exhibitions through influencer meetups

Getting ready to unveil something new? Inviting influential Instagram personalities and bloggers to check it out is a great way to create more promotional UGC around your brand.

Photography used to be discouraged in museums when it was believed to detract from the experience, and reveal key points of exhibits patrons would have otherwise had to pay to see. But, the Guggenheim Museum in New York City devised an ingenious way to encourage photography, while also maintaining an air of exclusivity and intrigue.

The museum organizes meetups of social influencers and members just before the big reveal of a new exhibit, as a preview. There are only about 20 “Instagram influencers” allowed, who are given free reign of the halls to snap photos, and create UGC that will be seen by millions, and attract new patrons to come explore the exhibit for themselves.

5 | Use UGC in your out-of-home ads

While UGC usually lives online (like a photo on Instagram), if you ask for permission from the owner of the image, what’s stopping you from using these images in your tickets, brochures, or subway posters?

Most of us don’t think to use UGC in print, and that’s a missed opportunity! 93% of consumers find UGC helpful when making a purchasing decision — and out-of-home ads reach an offline audience.

User-generated content’s effectiveness doesn’t stop when its taken offline. For example, “in a case study run by [yogurt company] Chobani, UGC shared across websites, billboards, and social media resulted in a 225.9% increase in revenue between 2009 and 2010.

Adding UGC (with permission) to “real world” ads is a great unconventional way for museums to show off what people are saying and sharing about you through a different medium.

You can start being innovative with user-generated content

While the common strategy of “find and repost images shared by your audience” works — there are just so many more creative ways to use UGC to promote your museum. 

At the end of the day, its is an opportunity for you to encourage participation, engagement, and — most importantly — joy and fascination with your community. 

So take these 5 examples, and start getting inventive yourself with user-generated content.

Want to keep up to date about the latest in visual influence and user-generated content? Subscribe to our bi-weekly newsletter today.


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Taking UGC Further: 3 Key Takeaways from Destination BC

Destination British Columbia is one of the largest and most respected DMOs in the tourism industry.

For good reason too — backed with a following of 276k users on Instagram, and 115k on Twitter, they’ve proven that it pays off to invest in social media.

An incredible project that’s come out of their success on social is the launch of their visual trip planner, the BC Explorer, which is powered by Instagram photos from the hashtag #ExploreBC.

As of today, #ExploreBC has been used over 1.9 million times. That gives them a growing collection of 1.9 million photos they can potentially use for the BC Explorer (and for their other marketing channels).

How does the BC Explorer work?

The BC Explorer shows curated user-generated photos from this hashtag, that you can scroll through to find inspiration for places to go and things to do in British Columbia.

Each photo is clickable and leads to more information (e.g. linking to the relevant businesses, visitor guides, etc.). You can also save the locations from each photo onto a built-in map.

What can other DMOs and tourism brands learn from its success?

Last week, we had the pleasure of hosting a webinar with Julia Crawford and Ryan Leung, from the team at Destination BC. We wanted to dig deeper on how Destination BC built up their social media strategy and leveraged user-generated content (UGC) to make the BC Explorer a success — and share these takeaways with you.

Here are 3 important lessons learned from our joint webinar:

1 | Encourage and engage social advocates

In May 2014, Destination BC had about 15,000 followers — and one year later they had 100,000.  

The growth of their social has always been about UGC, and keeping social media a two-way conversation.

From the beginning, the vision for their Instagram was to curate and repost user-generated photos.

“We were tapping into the pool of users who were already engaged in talking about our destination. We hoped that we could help fuel and leverage that conversation even further.”

— Julia Crawford, Social Media Specialist at Destination BC

A strategy that really fuelled their growth on Instagram was sourcing highly engaged users to do “weekly takeovers” of their feed. That means that instead of posting themselves, they’d let a user post and engage with their community for a week.

It was through jumping into existing conversations and encouraging their social advocates that they amplified the #ExploreBC hashtag from 10,000 when they first adopted it, to nearly 2 million now.

2 | Provide actionable inspiration

When you’re scrolling through Instagram, and see a photo of taken inside a quaint coffee shop — you’re struck with a desire to go there. And that’s the same with that photo from the top of a certain mountain, or at the edge of a lake somewhere.

The BC Explorer was the response to that inclination. Not only can people find inspiration, but they can act on it too.


“They’ll go and collect the photos they’re interested in and these links will help them take that inspiration to the next level.”

Ryan Leung, UX Specialist at Destination BC

An issue Destination BC wanted to tackle was that though they could provide aspirational photos on their site, if they didn’t direct their visitors’ inspiration somewhere, they’d leave the site to start the planning process elsewhere.

With the BC Explorer, visitors can start and continue planning on the DMO site, or click through to the websites of the local businesses and tourism partners, when they click “GET THE DETAILS”.

Adopting the practice of “actionable inspiration” means sharing a next step (like a link) along with your photos so that people can act on their motivation.

These are opportunities to engage your visitors and direct them to your tourism partners.

3 | User-generated content can go further than social media

Like Julia from Destination BC shared, UGC has always been a pillar in their social media strategy. But she also realizes that it can be used for so much more.

“We went from using within a purely social space to integrating it into our overall consumer marketing campaigns: out-of-home advertising, point of sale materials, influencer marketing campaigns, and using it to develop our digital visitor strategy.”

— Julia Crawford, Social Media Specialist at Destination BC 

Lovely #billboard at #yvr #explorebc just had to share #photography

A photo posted by Frank Zou (@fyz1080) on

UGC really speaks to people: it’s 20% more influential than branded content.

Like Destination BC, you can take user-generated content to the next level. You can incorporate it on your website, in your print ads, or even something as inventive as a visual trip planner, like the BC Explorer.

Just because user-generated content typically starts on social media, doesn’t mean it needs to stay there.

For the complete insights on social media and leveraging user-generated content from Destination BC, watch the full webinar here.


Header Photo Creds: @jtiezy

How to Get Board Approval for a Visual Marketing Platform

We’ve been to a lot of tourism conferences.

We’ve talked to a lot of destination marketers and tourism brands.

And something that we keep hearing is this: I want to do more, but with the same budget.

That’s why it can be difficult choosing which tools are worth the investment, and give you enough value to justify it in your marketing budget.

And after accomplishing that, you’ve got to convince the rest of your Board too. We want to make this process easier for you.

First off, what is a visual marketing platform?

A visual marketing platform is a system that allows you to

  1. easily find user-generated photos and videos that exist around your brand,
  2. easily acquire rights to them at scale,
  3. and keep all your marketing photos in one place.

Because on Instagram alone, there are 300 million daily active users, and more than 80 million photos are uploaded each day.

Can you imagine how many of these photos are showcasing your destination, hotel, or museum?

We believe in the ROI a visual marketing platform can offer destinations, hotels, and museums — and this is how you’d make a business case to your Board or your manager.

1 | You get access to (thousands) more authentic visuals

How much money do you spend on professional photography? Or on individual stock photos?

Consider this: a visual marketing platform can provide a constantly growing collection of brand visuals, simply because people keep sharing photos of your destination.


And such a platform is also going to give you an easy way to acquire rights to these visuals at scale, so that you can use them in your marketing – everywhere from your website to digital ads to print materials.

That means you don’t have to dip into your marketing budget each time you want specific photos to use in your social media or your website.

And what’s more — these photos speak to people more effectively. User-generated photos have proven to be 20% more influential on purchasing decisions; because they’re perceived to be more authentic coming from customers themselves, not the brand.

Investing in a visual marketing platform means investing in a collection of visuals that grows each day. 

Metrics that demonstrate ROI:

  • Exponential increase in number of brand visuals available for use
  • Reduced cost per visual
  • $5000 saved yearly in commissioned photography*

*metrics CrowdRiff clients have seen

2 | It engages your social community

How important is your online social following to you?

Sharing user-generated photos on social will increase your number of followers (our clients see a 20%-30% monthly growth in followers), and increase their engagement with your brand. After all, you’re commenting on and sharing their photos.

A robust visual marketing platform can surface photos that are already popular on social, as well as some hidden gems you might’ve otherwise overlooked. By sharing these photos, you not only engage with known visual influencers, you also turn every visitor or local into an ambassador for your brand.

And engaging with your community’s photos becomes easier too. Instead of manually typing in comment after comment on each photo, a visual marketing platform can help you select, “like” and comment on multiple photos at a time.

Metrics that demonstrate ROI:

  • 20%-30% monthly growth in followers*
  • Increased engagement on each post or tweet

3 | It turns your website into a more effective marketing tool

There’s no getting away from it: People love visual stories.

And user-generated photos act as visual stories, telling a real person’s travel experience with your brand.

A visual marketing platform not only makes it easy to find these visuals, but easy to incorporate them into elements on your website and showcase them.


Using CrowdRiff, our client Fort Worth chose to devote an entire section of their homepage to an interactive UGC gallery. Users can click into each photo to see the original caption, tags, and poster of the image.


That means more elements to engage with, translating to more reason to stay on the page, and more reason to come back. After integrating user-generated photos on their website, Fort Worth saw a 32% jump in time-on-site.

By creating unique, interactive elements for your website, a visual marketing platform will increase your web performance.

Metrics that demonstrate ROI:

  • 4X increase in time on site*
  • 30% reduction in bounce rate*
  • 19% increase in number of users*
  • 10% increase in pageviews*

4 | It saves you time

Let’s say you want to attract more families to your destination or brand, and you’re looking for a picture that can capture the family experience of hiking in your destination.

Can you imagine how much time you’d take manually searching the web for those specific user-generated photos? You’d have to comb through multiple social channels, searching the same terms and hashtags each time.

With a visual marketing platform like CrowdRiff, you only have to do one search to find everything there. We have lightning-fast searches for multiple attributes (including keywords, hashtag, location, author, channel and more).

Finding visuals to illustrate something like “family hiking” — simplified.

Going one step further, CrowdRiff has integrated with Google Vision, which means the visuals you upload are auto-tagged — that means that once you add them to our platform, they’re automatically searchable, along with all the user-generated photos in your collection.

On top of that, as mentioned earlier, a visual marketing platform lets you comment on multiple photos at the same time, with just the click of a button.

Forget the manual process — time is money, and a visual marketing platform saves you both.

Metrics that demonstrate ROI:

  • 90% reduction in time in finding on-brand social content*
  • 1.5 days saved monthly in social routine*

5 | It helps you drive traffic and interest to your partners

Your DMO is promoting more than the destination — they’re promoting the local businesses and organizations, from hotels to museums to zoos and parks.

A visual marketing platform can showcase photos that locals and visitors are sharing of all the neighbourhood cafes, local galleries, tour operators and independent boutiques that don’t have the horsepower to market themselves the way a DMO can.


Visit Stockton uses CrowdRiff’s calls to action feature, that links photos directly to member listings within their site as well as the local business websites themselves.

That means means a visitor can go from admiring a photo of a freshly baked dessert to making a reservation at that restaurant, in just one click.

Metrics that demonstrate ROI:

  • 20% click-through from DMO website to tourism partners*

So is a visual marketing platform worth it?


When making the business case for a visual marketing platform, share metrics that reflect both the hard dollar savings as well the incredible brand impact that will pay off in the long run.

The benefits listed above ladder up to 3 key things that every marketing leader or Board will care about:

  1. Scale. Marketing teams need to find and deploy more visual content than ever before, and a visual marketing platform enables you to accomplish that easily.  
  2. Savings. Find real cost savings by growing your visual media library with fresh content with social photos obtained with permission, at no extra cost to your organization.
  3. Brand authority. By using these authentic photos throughout your marketing channels, you’ll give people a reason to come back seek out your brand as a trusted authority.

Ready to see for yourself what visual marketing platform can do for you? Request a free visual marketing review with one of our team members, and we’d be happy to show you.

Header photo credit: @enimassej