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Is It Local? How 4 Brands are Driving In-Store UGC

On the off chance you haven’t heard, user-generated content is all the rage these days. The prevalence of social media has made it easier than ever for consumers to be touched, inspired and swayed by others’ experiences with brands. A 2014 study conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of The Webby Awards found that 62% of adults in the U.S. say they’re at least somewhat likely to make a purchase based on a friend’s social media post.

Inspiring customers to post organically on a brand’s behalf might seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. One ingenious approach is to motivate them while they’re still on the brand’s turf. Providing consumers with the opportunity to visually share their on-location experiences in exchange for recognition is working effectively across several verticals. Here are a few examples.


The rising popularity of #ootd (outfit of the day) on Instagram says it all. People want to be recognized as trendsetters, and the simple act of posting to Instagram makes that ambition seem rather attainable.

Brand: Saks Fifth Avenue

Tip: Turn shoppers into style icons.


Saks Fifth Avenue is a great example of a brand acknowledging that people want to be acclaimed for their style. Last fall, the brand launched its #SaksStyle campaign, displaying decals in dressing rooms to encourage instant uploading to social networks. Those with outstanding photos can be found in Saks’ Curalate-powered online gallery. Each image drives to an available product, making the outfits they tried on in-store shoppable online. By exhibiting how their products look on everyday style icons, Saks is recognizing UGC as a lever for clicks and conversions.

Brand: French Connection

Tip: Create an immersive experience.


French Connection turned the art of taking a selfie into the ultimate challenge in the spring of 2014 with #canthelpmyselfie. The retailer installed selfie booths in five stores, allowing fans to model French Connection attire and compete for the best photo. Entries were featured on selfie.frenchconnection.com, where several winners and an overall champ were chosen. Though some fans did upload their photos to Instagram, the brand itself didn’t use the platform for the contest. Had they done so and promoted the contest beyond the five stores, French Connection could have engaged thousands of additional fans around the globe and gleaned valuable insights around consumers’ in-store shopping behaviors.


Travel photos on social networks are typically posted with a hint of “Don’t you wish you were here?” Shots of a luxurious hotel room or a beautiful sunset over the beach tend to leave followers with feelings of longing.

Brand: The Ritz-Carlton

Tip: Collect your customers’ favorite memories.


In 2014, The Ritz-Carlton launched their #RCMemories campaign. They invited guests to post photos of the amazing memories they were creating while traveling, drawing into consumers’ emotions. The brand’s Instagram feed is now a vibrant collection of their fans’ travel memories.

To take the initiative one step further, The Ritz-Carlton could segment photos by location and feature these posts on each hotel’s respective booking page. Many hotel brands, including Wynhdam Hotel Group, have found that including user-generated reviews directly on the booking page can drive conversions by up to 30%. User-generated images would likely be a welcome addition to travelers still deciding whether or not to book.

Food & Beverage

It’s nearly impossible to scroll through Instagram without stumbling across a photo of someone’s dinner. It’s a fact: Food porn has become a fundamental element of social media.

Brand: Applebee’s

Tip: Ask your customers to step up to the plate.


Last fall, the Applebee’s team decided to capitalize on the craze with their #Fantographer promotion. They encouraged diners to share photos of their meal with the tag #PubDiet for a chance to be featured on the Applebee’s Instagram feed. Within the first three months, the campaign resulted in a 25% increase in engagement and 27% more followers to the brand’s account.

Those who have been featured express a lot of enthusiasm for the brand. Applebee’s could heighten that excitement on a local level by rewarding their most engaged customers with a discount, free sundae, or some other added touch that inspires them to return and dine again.

Ready to grow your social footprint?

Instagram campaigns that start in-store are a major benefit to brands that are looking to boost organic engagement. More than that, these initiatives can provide unique insights that further connect the social and offline worlds.


The Author

Stephanie Wharton

Stephanie Wharton, Content Strategist

Stephanie is a Content Strategist at Curalate. She enjoys analyzing data and writing about consumer trends.


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