If a picture tells a thousand words, then the integration of user generated images and online shopping is certainly a worthwhile idea.
Labels such as Lululemon, Kill Dolls and Free People have incorporated user generated content into their websites, with #hashtags on Instagram and Twitter, as a way to increase brand engagement, initiate conversation and attract new customers.
Source: Lululemon and Free People
This is made easy thanks to the technology of Olapic, which allows brands to easily collect and display pictures with their designated hashtag.
“Just like its customers, Dolls Kill has built its look from street style and hard-to-find underground labels. As a result, the ability to share these new looks with each other is a big part of our culture and the culture of our customers…Olapic has enabled us to create a real connection between our customers and our brand.” Shoddy Lynn – Kill Dolls
However, Olapic leaves content moderation up to the user, so it may be left to PR practitioners to review and choose pictures that reflect the label’s values and identity.
The problem here is the potential to exclude groups of your stakeholders.
Take Lululemon for example. A large number of the pictures displayed are fit, young women – most are doing yoga. As a new customer, if I can’t identify directly with these selected images, I may be less likely to engage with the brand. Or, if I am an existing customer, but feel my values aren’t reflected in these images, I may feel disconnected.
Ultimately, most customers will find it valuable and fun to connect with a label through user generated content, especially given the popularity of fitness and fashion on Instagram. However, it is still up to PR practioners to ensure images reflect not only what the brand wants itself to be, but also what it’s users are sharing.