Just a couple of short weeks ago, we had the pleasure of hosting a webinar alongside Twenty20 on the topic of visual commerce. If you missed it, or want to learn more about how you as a marketer can leverage images to drive revenue across your marketing channels, you can revisit the recording here.

Throughout the session, we were particularly excited to see how engaged webinar attendees were. You submitted a ton of questions. But with just 20 minutes to address them, we found that a lot of great questions went unanswered. We promise, they weren’t unheard!

Below, the Curalate Success Team answers 11 lingering questions to provide an in-depth understanding of how marketers can drive engagement and revenue with editorial-style content.

1. What is the best way to incorporate lifestyle elements into branded images?




The best way to incorporate lifestyle elements into branded images is to keep it as natural as possible. Incorporating lifestyle shots allows your consumers the opportunity to visualize a lifestyle using your products. If you’ve never done this before, start with something simple.

For example, as a furniture company, you can photograph a new chair in a staged office rather than using a white background.


A cosmetics company could showcase summer makeup essentials surrounded by other beachy products.


And a CPG brand could include a juice or food product as part of a picnic.


Don’t have the bandwidth or ability to create branded lifestyle imagery? To get more out of Instagram images, use your fans! Consumers are using Instagram as a way to celebrate purchases. Start by browsing branded hashtags, find a photo you love that features your product, comment on the photo asking for permission, and then (after getting permission, of course!) reuse that image. Be sure to tag and thank the consumer in the repost!

2. What are the benefits of UGC and editorial-style images for brands without ecommerce?




Consumers trust editorial-style images, so they are just as important to brands without ecommerce. A lot of brands in the CPG category, for example, are embracing UGC and editorial-style images to make them work for them.


Dove is a great example of this with their #beautyis and #speakbeautiful campaigns. The brand rarely shows Dove products in their Instagram photos, but instead publishes great editorial content focused on the well-being and self-esteem of Dove beauty product loyalists. This creates a lot of brand loyalty and enthusiasm among consumers.

3. What is a good ratio when using user-generated content (UGC) vs. original content?




The 80/20 rule is a healthy standard to go by here. Meaning about 80% of your content should be created by your brand, and about 20% of your content should be outsourced from brand advocates.

Think of user-generated content as a supplement to your styled brand imagery.


Naturally, you’ll want to publish original photos that embody your brand’s personality and values as frequently as possible. However, the most successful brands also reserve space on their content calendars to put their appreciation for the customers that have chosen to incorporate their brand into their everyday life on display.

Brands like Urban Outfitters and Martha Stewart execute this strategy effortlessly on Instagram. Check them out for inspiration!

4. How frequently should I share UGC on a brand page?




There’s no one-size-fits-all answer here, but every brand can find a way to integrate UGC seamlessly into their posting strategy in a way that makes sense for them. This will depend on what your individual business objectives are; your UGC strategy should play into this.

For example, are you prioritizing fan engagement, sourcing content to repurpose, or both?

On one end of the spectrum, a brand that might not have as much original content to post may use user-generated images to fill in the gaps in their content calendar. In this case, they might post UGC four days a week.

On the other hand, a brand could highlight UGC as part of a weekly theme (e.g. #fanfriday) and only post one user-generated photo per week. As mentioned, this will depend on both your needs and your goals.

5. Is it useful to incorporate some sort of text-based overlay? When is that appropriate?




Text overlay can be great for brand announcements, especially on Instagram. This includes sales, seasonal promotions, new product lines, or any exciting new piece of content. It’s also a great way to connect your content to relevant causes. For a good idea of how to execute something like this, take a look at Free People’s Instagram post celebrating Women’s Equality Day. Fans responded positively, with comments like “nice sentiment,” “well said,” and “this is the best.”


Something else to consider on Instagram: Rather than relying on text overlay, think about which of your products feature funny, cool, or unique sayings. Nordstrom does a great job with this, choosing products with cheeky messages and creating captions that complement their clothing.


But don’t forget about your other channels!

On Pinterest, for example, text overlay can be a great strategy for all initiatives. A large, vertical pin with text overlay is more likely to be seen and repinned. The text also provides a snapshot of the content behind the pin before the user clicks through, and can really complement an image without taking away from its elements. I recommend incorporating it into your Pinterest strategy wherever possible. Get creative with your images and collaborate with your designers to create fun, eye-catching text overlays for your pins.

6. How do you drive awareness around a custom hashtag so that consumers want to tag their photos?




A great strategy for promoting a custom hashtag is to have it in as many places as possible! Hashtags perform best when they’ve been promoted across various platforms, such as on the brand website, on Facebook, in email circulars, etc. Many brands will promote their hashtags in brick-and-mortar locations, so when customers are interacting with products in-store, they can interact on social media right then and there.


Another great way to garner interest in using a specific hashtag is with a contest or sweepstakes. Providing an incentive—such as an opportunity to win a prize or have their photo featured in an on-site gallery—will make users more likely to use the hashtag.

7. Is UGC suitable for luxury brands?




Yes, user-generated content is absolutely suitable for luxury brands, as long as it’s used in a way that doesn’t dilute the brand. Luxury brands are very careful to maintain their brand voice and personality, and can carefully curate the UGC they collect, choosing to display only the highest quality images that accurately convey their brand identity.

Using UGC helps to make a luxury brand more approachable and relatable to the everyday consumer, while the carefully curated images allow the brand to maintain its aspirational nature. While some luxury brands may be hesitant to feature UGC on their Instagram account, many are turning to on-site galleries to display these images and to link to the products in them. A great example of a luxury brand that’s brought UGC into the ecommerce experience is Saks Fifth Avenue with their Saks Style gallery.


8. Are there any brands whose customers don’t respond well to UGC?




Every brand can use UGC to their benefit. It’s simply a matter of deciding on the right kind of content to share with your audience. And trust me, if you show them what they want, they’ll give you what you want!

Have a fashion line? Show your audience what your products look like in real life on real people. Use Like2Buy for suggestive selling, and pair other products with the image to help consumers shop a cohesive look.

With CPG brands, sometimes you have to think outside of the box (or, in this case IN the box). I’ve seen brands regram UGC that simply features their packaging – like a cat sitting in the box their products shipped in. For pharma, focus on the lifestyle that good health affords you – perhaps UGC of your consumer’s active life.

9. How can imagery be used to drive revenue within the healthcare space?




While the healthcare industry might not see direct revenue in the ways that retail or ecommerce brands do from social imagery, success metrics like brand awareness, website traffic and overall brand affinity can be greatly affected by imagery.

With images, healthcare brands can tell a larger story about who their brand is and the people they help. Take a look at New York-Presbyterian Hospital’s Instagram account. It’s filled with stories, not just about their patients but about the dedication of their staff. Boston Children’s Hospital posts really inspirational content too. Just last month, they shared images of patients spending time with Patriots players.

10. How can a non-luxury automobile brand drive revenue with their photos?




Building credibility and a relationship with your consumers is incredibly important for brands, including automobile makers. These brands have an opportunity to bring industry news, guides and opinion pieces to car enthusiasts on various marketing platforms. By doing so, brands can ensure that they stay top-of-mind, while at the same time using content that inspires and informs to drive traffic to their website.

You can turn your social channels, including Instagram, into powerful traffic drivers by sharing content that speaks to the target buyer’s needs in a visually compelling way. Then, make it easy for consumers to take action on that content, should it pique their curiosity. The Curalate Like2Buy solution, for instance, enables you to add links to your Instagram content, which helps you take them from brand awareness on Instagram to action on your website.


In addition, finding creative ways to garner UGC that ties in your vehicles can help to build your community. For example, hold a contest asking your fans to share their favorite #tbt moment from a recent road trip! This visual conversation will steer excitement and drive a positive brand image. Take it a step further, and give your brand evangelists a social high-five by displaying this inspirational content on your website.

11. What are the biggest differences in promoting images on Instagram vs. Pinterest? Is Instagram more photography-based?




Instagram is a great place to connect with and empower your followers, whereas Pinterest is a great place to drive discovery of your products. On Pinterest, it’s advantageous for brands to pin tall, high-quality images that take up real estate in the newsfeed, inform, and capture their followers’ attention. Specifically, how-to pins that show a step-by-step tutorial yield a strong engagement on Pinterest.

For Instagram, yes, photography-based images are the most popular. However, it’s the content in those photos that matter. I suggest that brands utilize Instagram to regram their fans’ content. Sharing a customer’s photo empowers that fan and encourages others to continually post quality content about your brand. This also helps you, as a marketer, to build out your visual content library.

Another suggestion for Instagram: Show the behind-the-scenes world of the brand to humanize your brand and encourage engagement. But don’t limit this content to Instagram. Take those that perform well on the channel, and weave it throughout your brand’s presence – within emails, apps, and your website.