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.
User-generated content is also one of the most powerful forms of promotion out there.
- UGC converts five times as many travelers compared with branded photos and videos
- 40% of millennials won't book a travel experience without seeing some sort of UGC
- 2/3 consumers say they trust the opinions of other customers posted online
So if you want to get seen and heard in your niche, you want to encourage your visitors to share more photos and videos.
7 Ways to Source More UGC for Your Brand
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 and videos. So put it in your Twitter and Instagram bio, and share your own photos with it too.
Sip on a flight of mimosas at @CrushedPB in Pacific Beach. Choose from flavors like ginger lychee, watermelon, cucumber, rosemary grapefruit, pear, piña colada, and more! #VisitSD . #SanDiegoFoodie #BrunchTime #BrunchGoals #SDFoodDiaries #SDFoodie #SDFood #EatsSanDiego #SDFoodScene #SanDiegoFood #YouStayHungrySD #DreamEats #OnTheTable
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.
Get to know the show—#CountrysideTheFuture, a mixed media exhibition by AMO/Rem Koolhaas, asks you to think differently about the countryside. 🚜 Today in our story, join curator Troy Conrad Therrien (@troyth), for an introduction to our current rotunda exhibition. __ Photo: David Heald #Guggenheim
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 (necessarily) 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 | Create a "get featured" highlight on Instagram
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. Just take a look at how G Adventures does it.
Not only does this encourage tourists, locals, and prospective visitors to post beautiful images while traveling with G Adventures, it gives great local photographers a reason to really strive to capture each experience in its best light.
Top tip: If you’re reposting a photo, ask for permission in advance, and remember to give photo credit.
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.
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.