Alexandra Tobin, our intern from the University of Colorado, clues us in on how some local companies are leveraging photos in social media.
In case you’ve fallen drastically behind the times, this is the era of user-generated content. People discuss and document the things they love online, which creates an abundance of pictures and quotes bringing experiences (and businesses) to life. In the age of Instagram and Twitter, if an organization is still only using pictures taken by so-called “professionals,” it’s missing out. These paid folks won’t be able to capture true essence of a brand and why people engage with it.
Since social media is relatively new, companies are frantically trying to figure out how to use this wildly popular tool to their advantage. Some companies however seem to have found the answer – take the content people are already generating and turn it into free marketing. Keystone Resort in Colorado (part of Vail Resorts) is a perfect example of this model.
Keystone clearly noticed fans of the mountain documenting their days of shredding on social sites, and with the way filters can manipulate images, these pictures are not only interesting, but they capture the elements customers truly love about Keystone. So, the resort decided to jump on this trend, encouraging Instagram followers to share their “Keystone Moments” by using the hashtag #keystonemoments. Every week, Keystone compiles the best images into one full picture to share with everyone. Users are pleasantly surprised to see their image up, often commenting with thanks and gratitude.
So what does this mean? Keystone is not only getting great images for zero cost, but users are excited and more engaged when the resort uses their pictures. Sounds like the definition of a win-win. Once Keystone realized the popularity of this approach, they began expanding it. They have an entire page on their Facebook dedicated to Keystone Moments, and they hold contests to encourage new people to follow them and generate more content.
It’s not just Keystone engaging in this practice. Odell Brewing Co. loves retweeting fans who take pictures or talk about their beers; not only are they spreading positive feedback, but who doesn’t love getting a retweet? Once again, wins all around.
Moral of the story: when it comes to social media, companies can create content to appeal to users. Or they can find what people are already doing and use it. It’s free, and taking the content only increases brand engagement. Maybe the puzzle of social media isn’t so tough after all.