Instagram, The Source of Earned Content


Instagram, The Source of Earned Content

Jaap van Oort

How do I get proper content? Authentic content that does not feel and look like stock photography everybody uses. This is a challenge many marketeers nowadays face. Yet, at the same time consumers post around 20.000 pictures on Instagram every minute. And more and more they link brands to these posts. All in all a valuable source of content. If used right, that is.

43% of social media users worldwide (NL = 31%) sometimes shares a new purchase online: #summerdress #shoppingpurchase or #scotchsoda. Furthermore, friends and acquaintances are actually interested in that. 52% (NL = 37%) says Facebook influences them during shopping.

This becomes evident in a study we do yearly with over 17.000 web users in 17 countries. A good-looking model sells a summer dress pretty well. But ordinary people like you and me are the true heroes of sales. We show how to properly combine the dress and how it looks when worn. That’s why we mix earned content for our client Springfield, one of Spain's biggest fashion brands. Good, fitting social content of regular consumers is transferred to the webshop and becomes an integral part of the shopping journey. That constitutes to a substantial content boost of between 10.000 and 20.000 consumer pictures. What are the step to take, what are its possibilities and what does it do for a brand.

The possibilities of using earned content to enrich and empower your brand communication are limitless.

Step 1: Analysis

Surfacing the goals
Who wants to use earned content one must first clarify its targets.

Why would you want social content? To increase your reach for brand engagement with current clients or how to teach people how to use your products?

The American pocket knife brand Leatherman for example asks its users to share pictures and video with #leatherman tools in action. A very good way to not only show how to use the knifes but also enthuse consumers.

Besides that, you need to do research. What are people talking about? Who talks about what? What is the quality? What is the volume? And which hashtag is being used?

Taking our client as an example for the latter, it is not wise to use #springfield. Not only are there about 5 towns in America with that name it is also the town where the Simpsons live. Fictional of course, but that never stopped a hashtag from getting popular and fly off. A hashtag needs to be unique so you can use it to build a campaign around. Like: it is Spring, share your summer dress with #springfieldisyou.


Step 2: Tooling and execution

Separating the chaff from the wheat
The next step consists of the implementation and deployment of tooling. Special software can help with retrieving the hashtags and furthermore separate the chaff from the wheat by filtering them first. The social content needs to be analysed, which can partially be done automatically.

Good pictures have to be separated from the bad ones. Is the lighting okay? Does it fit the brand? Are there no children or celebrities in the pictures? And the products need to be recognizable. Like: these are the Super-Skinny Lavado jeans and this is the Jacquard Zigzag dress.

Linking content to products
All the inspirational content is also linked to products in the webshop. The site of Springfield has several lookbooks with original Instagram pictures that show how good a certain combination looks. If you click on it, you immediately see what product is depicted on the picture: this summer dress costs 30 euros and you can purchase it here now! But that goes for the other way around as well. Next to the professional photography of models in the webshop we will place the Instagram pictures to give a realistic idea about the fitting of a certain garment. This makes it really easy to interweave the entire site with owned and earned content.

How about the rights?
An important point of attention is about the rights. Does the person using the brand’s hashtag implicitly allow the use of the picture on the internet for commercial purposes? To be honest, it is a grey area and many clients find this exciting to say the least. If you want to ask permission for use, you can use tooling for that as well. The tool sends a direct PM to the person sharing the picture.

Our experience? Nine times out of ten, consumers are flattered by the question. And by issuing 10% discounts for online orders you create loyal brand ambassadors easy and quickly.


Step 3: See how it flies

10 to 30% increase in conversion 
The third step is seeing how and if it works. Will people actually take that hashtag and use it? Will there be enough social content to pick from? And not every brand will be able to create immediate commotion around a certain hashtag. Let’s be honest, Prada has more chance to be picked up than Zeeman has.

But does it work? Taking a certain leading lingerie brand, we see that 13% of the shoppers look at the social content. Then again, it depends greatly on the type of campaign and the products. But studies show that a 5 to 10 increase in conversion rate is not unusual.

Social content not only inspires shoppers but it also instils in them the confidence to actually follow through on the purchase. For brands it ensures a perpetual flow of fresh social content. And the online show window looks anew every other week.


Step 4: Integration en analysis

What truly inspires and converts?
If a hashtag flies the accumulated social content can be integrated in all online channels. But afterwards it can be used offline as well. Think about TV, print and in-store. And don’t forget to use the statistics. Which pictures generate the most revenue? Which ambassadors contribute the most? In short, what content inspires and converts for real. If you know this, you can use these pictures for billboards or in fashion magazines.

As you can see, the possibilities of using earned content to enrich and empower your brand communication are limitless.

Jaap van Oort

Jaap van Oort


Jaap is experienced in developing digital strategies and is known to build bridges because of a thorough knowledge of marketing, technology, UX and branding. He is capable to guide a team in translating strategy into creative concepts and designs.

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