Marketing Implications of User-Generated Content for Image Search
What is Image Search?
Image search, also known as visual search, is a new trend that is sweeping the digital world and changing things for eCommerce applications and companies. We’ve all searched for products online, and most of us have probably bought things online, as well. So you know what I’m about to talk about.
Think back to the last time you were looking for something very specific that you wanted to buy. Maybe it was some shoes you saw on a coworker. Or maybe you broke a glass and need to find a replacement, but forgot where you got it from. You can type in “blacks shoes with gold buckle”, but there’s no guarantee that you’re going to find exactly what you’re looking for. If you type in “tall glass”… it could be years before you find the exact glass that matches your collection.
That’s where image search comes into play. Instead of typing in a frustrating and vague set of search terms, you can take a picture of the item you’re looking for with your phone. You upload it to search and find something that is very similar, if not the same product you’re looking for.
How to Start with Image Search?
If you are looking to create an application that can execute image search, then you are going to need some serious tech. It’s possible, but includes some key artificial intelligence tools, such as deep learning models, computer vision, machine learning, and neural networks.
If you aren’t looking to create your own software, but rather want to make sure your products are easily found by other platforms that use image search, then you have some options.
The most important thing to do is to optimize your images. That means adding descriptive file names and alt text to your images. This is important for any kind of image search, really. This will allow search engines like Google identify that you are seller of that product, which will allow them to direct traffic to you.
Encourage User-Generated Content
User-generated content, in this example, are pictures that people take and upload that has your product in it. One of the biggest traders of visual imagery is Pinterest. On Pinterest, you can take a photo that you find, zoom in on a specific product in that photo, and search for similar results. What does this mean for you? This means that you need your pictures on Pinterest. Of course, you can add your own pictures to an account on Pinterest, but if you really want to see traction, then you will have user-generated content as well. If you are a shoe company, then you want people taking pictures of your shoes so that, down the line, someone will see them and think, “I want those shoes!” With image search, or reverse-image search, they can easily find you.
How do you get your users to create and upload content?
Use the content that’s already out there
If you have users who are already sharing pictures with your content, then you should be taking advantage of this easy marketing opportunity. You can add an Instagram section to the bottom of your home page that connects to Instagram and shows what people are tagging you in. You can repost images on your own accounts, give credit to, and thank the original posters. If someone is posting a picture with your products, there is a good chance they are a loyal customer. And you should reward your loyal customers. Promoting and being thankful for the content that is already out there will naturally encourage more people to share their own pictures.
You can offer a giveaway to the winner who posts the best picture with one of your products in it. You can promise a discount to those who post pictures with your products. Or even if it isn’t their own post, you can still get people to share your own images organically. This will get more of your products circulating around the web, increasing your chances of being found through image search or reverse image search.
Paying influencers is the best way to be 100% sure that your products will be circulated online in a positive light. And you don’t have to break out the big bucks for celebrity influencers. Marketers are finding it actually more effective and ROI positive to pay the lower fees of micro-influencers to promote their products. A micro-influencer is anyone on social media with 1,000-10,000 followers and high-quality engagement. They are a great option for generating this more authentic-seeming content.
Don’t get left in the dust
Whatever you decide is in your budget and abilities to do, you need to keep these trends in mind. It makes sense that we’re moving from text to image search. (And soon we’ll have accepted voice search as well). It’s user-friendly. And it’s a great way to generate leads and boost your sales. Pay attention to what’s out there and figure out how you can keep up, whether you’re a Fortune 500 tech company or a start up getting off the ground.
Pixel506 is a creative content and digital marketing agency. We help you with your digital marketing strategy by creating quality content that is integral to your industry and directed at your target audience based on user research. Our content marketing efforts improve brand positioning, increase leads, and boost conversion.