American consumers appear to think that the U.S. economy is back on track. At least that seems to be the case, based on their projected holiday spend. According to a survey from Gallup, American shoppers plan to spend $830 on holiday gifts this year, up from $720 last year and $704 in 2013. Holiday spend hasn’t been higher since 2007, and retailers are launching holiday marketing and advertising campaigns with the hope of capturing these ready spenders.
Most consumers are shopping for friends and family and will rely heavily on traditional holiday gift guides to inform their purchase. However, retailers have found a more authentic way to turn browsers into buyers: image curation. This form of visual inspiration is critical when buying for others. It gives the shopper the opportunity to see multiple products post-purchase in a compiled “look”—which serves as a more efficient way to inspire potential buyers.
In this article, we offer three ways to use curated photos that trump your generic holiday gift guide:
- 1. Post Curated Instagram Photos
Instagram is the ultimate browsing platform. The social network has over 300 million monthly users, and unlike Facebook and Twitter, its infinity scroll newsfeed does not have a sharing algorithm. This means that your followers have the opportunity to see every piece of shared content that you post. This ensured visibility makes Instagram an optimal platform to place your curated images on. When placing curated images on Instagram, it’s key to blend into your followers’ newsfeed by keeping your photos authentic. Observe how your customers photograph your products and replicate them stylistically. Even better, ask your customers if you can re-post their curated visual content on your feed. When you post a curated image, be sure to caption it “shop the look in bio” and to place a link in your Instagram bio that directs browsers to your ecommerce site.
- 2. Leverage your Brand Influencers
Peer recommendations are playing a much larger role in purchasing decisions and, consequently, the importance of finding and utilizing strong brand influencers is growing. Your influencers are social media users who not only have an established credibility and audience but who advocate for your products. They persuade others to purchase by virtue of their trustworthiness and authenticity. If you find an influencer who is already talking about your products online, incentivize them to post more photos of how they are styling your products with rewards and discounts. If you have not yet identified your influencers, run a search for your brand hashtag and investigate who is already posting about your brand. When you find and leverage your best influencers, you reach not only their audience but their audience’s network as well. Influencers with a loyal pool of followers can increase brand awareness and drive traffic to your product pages.
- 3. Add Curated Customer Photos to your Product Pages
Customers and fans love being recognized by the brands they love and support. Collaborate with your customers to create authentically curated photos by running a hashtag contest or sweepstakes. Chances are, you are already running a holiday social media marketing campaign. But if you ask customers to submit photos with your brand hashtag, you can repurpose the highest-quality content that you collect (with customer permission, of course!) One of the best ways to encourage purchase is to display customer photos of your products on their respective product pages. Curated images can serve as powerful visual reviews of your products when you place them on your ecommerce website. When holiday browsers can see how their peers are enjoying and using your products, it instills confidence and encourages purchase.
As consumers continue to post more and more content on social media, there is an abundance of valuable and high-quality curated content that can serve as visual endorsements for your products. This content becomes a huge opportunity for brands to enhance their ecommerce experience and to drive sales. Whether your brand replicates this authentic content or collaborates with customers to create it, curated images are the modern-day holiday gift guide and are a sure way to convert more browsers into buyers.