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3 Incredibly Simple Ways to Use a Single Instagram Image

When you’re part of a social media team, the content you share isn’t just nice to look at. It’s part of the lifestyle—the ethos—that your brand projects. This is truer than ever on Instagram. With 400 million users, Instagram has become an outlet for self-expression, allowing people to discover a shared passion for products and places, quite literally through the lens of others – from their friends to their favorite brands.

What you might not realize is that Instagram imagery is beginning to permeate many other marketing environments as well, from product pages and blogs to emails, other social channels, and ads. Take these examples from Nickelodeon, Dunkin’ Donuts, and luxury retailer Saks Fifth Avenue. Recognizing that Instagram images are generating extraordinary levels of engagement, all three of these seemingly disparate brands are populating emails with lifestyle images from Instagram.

instagram image and email marketing examples

We’ve seen time and again that when brands complement traditional stock photos with inspiring lifestyle imagery, whether from Instagram or another experience-driven channel, they see higher clicks and conversions. To get the wheels turning, here are some examples:

  • Email: A fitness retailer that works with Curalate delivered a 7x lift in on-site engagement with product photos within 24 hours of sending an Instagram-infused email.
  • Product pages: Sigma Beauty generated a 4x lift in on-site engagement after adding a gallery of Instagram-sources images onto their product pages.
  • Brick-and-mortar: Lilly Pulitzer hangs printouts of their top performing Instagram images throughout their stores to inspire customers as they shop. It’s a little more difficult to measure, but a fascinating application nonetheless!

As you can see, Instagram images have legs. So, how can you reach more consumers in more places with one powerful picture?

A brand that’s got this down pat is Urban Outfitters. Let’s take a look at how Urban turns a short-lived Instagram image into a long-term engagement, traffic and revenue driver.

STEP ONE: PUT YOUR BEST PHOTO FORWARD

Before anything else, you need to select an image to use – one that feels authentic, captures a moment, and features your products or services prominently.

Social imagery in particular comes in many forms. While community managers are busy creating editorial-style photos out in the field, marketers can also source inspiring content from bloggers, influencers, advocates, and of course, their customers.

Many marketers consider crowdsourced content to be highly valuable, as these assets provide authentic visual endorsements from influential members of the community – many who are paying customers. Urban Outfitters is one of these brands. Today, the lifestyle retailer receives hundreds of user images daily containing the hashtag #UOonYOU. And so, they are able to use fan-sourced images often and in many places.

HOW TO FIND YOUR BRAND IN THE WILD

There are many ways to find images that pertain to your products and content. For instance, you can:

  • Search by hashtag
  • Search by geographic location
  • Create an upload widget so consumers can submit images directly

Urban Outfitters found the image shown here by pulling in content containing their branded hashtag, #UOonYOU.

Urban Outfitters Instagram Image

BUT, WHAT MAKES AN IMAGE GREAT?

Once you’ve found images about your products, how can you choose the ones that best represent your brand? Consider the following:

The Person: Start with the basics. Who’s the photographer; how many followers do they have; and do they appear to fit your brand profile? In this instance, the user—let’s call her @clairebear1234—has around 3,000 followers. Not a celebrity or influencer, exactly, but definitely a solid audience size. The image has 500 likes too, suggesting that the image was well-received.

The Picture: This is even more important than the person behind the lens. Does the image convey your brand aesthetic? Does it adhere to your visual voice? In this instance, it doesn’t get much better. The fan’s image is not only on-brand—cool vibe, dreamy aesthetic—but two of Urban’s products are featured, adorned by young women who look like the typical Urban shopper.

So, now that you’ve identified the image you want to use, how can you begin to share it across multiple consumer touch points to drive measurable business value?

STEP TWO: START WITH A SIMPLE RE-GRAM

urban outfitters instagram image regram

While the intention of this blog post is to help you think beyond Instagram, it’s important to remember just how powerful this channel is. Leveraging fan-sourced content really can be as easy as a re-gram. Sharing UGC on your brand’s Instagram page can pique excitement among a broad set of consumers (your followers) who relate to the lifestyle depicted in the image. And of course, it’s an excellent way to give context to a product and celebrate an active social fan. Notice how Urban’s social team reposts the image to promote New Year’s Eve attire, while giving @clairebear1234 a shout-out along the way.

The result? As you can see from the examples below, the comments from Urban’s community were overwhelmingly positive. Consider this an indication that the image might fare well outside of the Instagram environment.

instagram comments

STEP THREE: FEATURE THE IMAGE ON YOUR WEBSITE

One of the most effective ways to start thinking about Instagram content within the context of commerce is by bringing it onto your website. Urban Outfitters places their customers’ lifestyle shots front and center in their UOCommunity gallery, providing a platform through which they can spotlight the hundreds of Instagram images they receive daily.

instagram images and ecommerce

Not only does every image include the user’s Instagram handle and the number of “likes” the photo received, but the look is completely shoppable. Instagram images are featured alongside Urban’s stock photo of the product, and the call-to-action is clear. If you like it, simply click to “Shop It.”

As a result, Urban has reported a 15% click-through rate from Instagram-sourced images to products.

STEP FOUR: JUST PIN IT!

instagram images on pinterest

Finally, to extend the life of their Instagram images even further, Urban Outfitters created a Pinterest board dedicated to #UOonYOU content. By sharing @clairebear1234’s photo on a channel that’s built for discovery, Urban is creating future opportunities to drive engagement, traffic and potential revenue. There are a few ways to think about the value of Pinterest, which I’ve outlined below:

REACH

On Pinterest, images are shared publicly, leading people to discover products they didn’t know they were looking for to begin with. Each time a person repins Urban’s image to their own board, an entirely new set of people will be exposed to their content and products. This can continue over an indefinite period of time, meaning the image can be rediscovered again and again.

SEARCH

Pinterest is known to have important search implications. When users search certain combinations of keywords, different results populate. As you can see below, the phrase “Urban + Outfitters + Romper” yields our aforementioned image:

pinterest search for instagram image

One thing to note is the difference between @clairebear1234’s image and the rest of the resulting pins. While other pins are highly stylized—bleek backgrounds, professional models—Urban’s user image projects a lifestyle. This air of authenticity, combined with visual context, makes it pop. You can imagine it being pinned to all sorts of pinboards, from “Friends” and “Photography” to “San Francisco Trip Ideas.”

The more often an image is pinned, the more accessible it will be. tweet

REVENUE

Since Urban’s pin links back to the product detail page, consumers can easily click on the image to learn more about and potentially buy the romper. The more often people discover the pin, the more engagement, traffic and revenue Urban will be able to drive.

Of course, the caveat here is that Urban’s black dress and romper may not be around forever. One way to solve for this is to change out dead links consistently, and drive users to similar product pages so they can continue to browse and shop.

THE MANY LIVES OF A SINGLE IMAGE

So, what’s the moral of the story here? Instagram is loaded with amazing imagery – shared by both brands and consumers. By embracing your top Instagram images outside of the Instagram environment, this inspiring lifestyle content can add value at various points of the purchase funnel. As we saw with Urban Outfitters’ example, a single user-generated image wound up not only on the brand’s owned Instagram channel but also on Pinterest and their website. Keep this in mind as you think of all the different ways you can breathe new life into existing images.

Photography Tips from Top Instagram Influencers

The Author

Julia Hanson

Julia Hanson, Market Developer

Julia is a Market Developer at Curalate, with a passion for reading, writing and Instagram filter tricks. She enjoys chatting with brands about their social strategy and brainstorming with her fellow market developers about the ‘secret sauce’ of email subject lines.

Comments

33 responses to “And the Most Enchanting Emoji on Instagram is…”

  1. […] (It’s probably not the colorful oden skewers in the Japanese foods section.) To find out, Curalate “analyzed the total photo count for each single character emoji hashtag [following the launch […]

  2. […] A maneira como a atual geração utiliza os desenhos para se comunicar intrigou o pessoal do Curalate Blog, que decidiram fazer um levantamento de quais os Emojis mais populares da […]

  3. […] I thought this was interesting… the most popular emojis on Instagram… (I was happy to see that the crying laughing one made the top […]

  4. […] am all about the heart eye emoji on social media and it turns out, almost everyone else is too! Check out the list of the top used emoji on Instagram, and did you know you can now search hashtags (and order pizza apparently)? Super […]

  5. […] to Curalate, the most frequently shared emoji on Instagram is the red heart, which is shared 79% more than the […]

  6. […] to Curalate, the most frequently shared emoji on Instagram is the red heart, which is shared 79% more than the […]

  7. […] to Curalate, the most frequently shared emoji on Instagram is the red heart, which is shared 79% more than the […]

  8. […] to Curalate, the most frequently shared emoji on Instagram is the red heart, which is shared 79% more than the […]

  9. […] to Curalate, the most frequently shared emoji on Instagram is the red heart, which is shared 79% more than the […]

  10. […] to Curalate, the most frequently shared emoji on Instagram is the red heart, which is shared 79% more than the […]

  11. […] to Curalate, the most frequently shared emoji on Instagram is the red heart, which is shared 79% more than the […]

  12. […] to Curalate, the most frequently shared emoji on Instagram is the red heart, which is shared 79% more than the […]

  13. […] to Curalate, the most frequently shared emoji on Instagram is the red heart, which is shared 79% more than the […]

  14. […] to Curalate, the most frequently shared emoji on Instagram is the red heart, which is shared 79% more than the […]

  15. […] to Curalate, the most frequently shared emoji on Instagram is the red heart, which is shared 79% more than the […]

  16. […] to Curalate, the most frequently shared emoji on Instagram is the red heart, which is shared 79% more than the […]

  17. […] to Curalate, the most frequently shared emoji on Instagram is the red heart, which is shared 79% more than the […]

  18. […] to Curalate, the most frequently shared emoji on Instagram is the red heart, which is shared 79% more than the […]

  19. […] to Curalate, the most frequently shared emoji on Instagram is the red heart, which is shared 79% more than the […]

  20. […] to Curalate, the most frequently shared emoji on Instagram is the red heart, which is shared 79% more than the […]

  21. […] to Curalate, the most frequently shared emoji on Instagram is the red heart, which is shared 79% more than the […]

  22. […] they used in this photo, it’s interesting to note that the heart emoji just so happens to be the most hashtagged on Instagram. Users on the platform are most inclined to share love-expressing emojis, so don’t hesitate to […]

  23. […] to Curalate, the most frequently shared emoji on Instagram is the red heart, which is shared 79% more than the […]

  24. […] to Curalate , the most frequently shared emoji on Instagram is the red heart, which is shared 79% more than the […]

  25. […] to Curalate, the most frequently shared emoji on Instagram is the red heart, which is shared 79% more than the […]

  26. […] a list of all the emojis by Curalate that are ruling this social […]

  27. […] infographic of the top 100 Emoji characters on […]

  28. Mazy says:

    I love it! What a good read! This is some amazing stuff. One of the most informative articles I have read on the subject by far. The company I work for has been throwing around the idea of starting up a few additional company profiles for many months now, but we could not decide if it was going to be worth the time and effort to get it started up. Our main problem is that my company already manage around more pages. More than we can even keep up with. Some of what you said at the end (is the brand appealing, do we have time to manage a new social network, etcetera…) Kinda just made up my mind for me. We are going to to find a few of the websites out there to help manage our profiles activity to really understand what our audience we cater to is truly interested in so we can only target the users who would more likely interested in what my company has to offer rather than just going after random users who’d take no interest in our services. Thanks a lot for the advice!.

  29. […] for potential discovery and engagement. Since launching in April, individual emojis were hashtagged 6.4 million times in two months. Leading the charge? The heart emoji with a whopping 575, 381 uses. Instagram is […]

  30. […] Research by Curalate found that single-use emojis were hashtagged 6.4 million times within a month of their launch. […]

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