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Lessons from Facebook’s Instagram Acquisition: 3 Tips to Supercharge E-commerce Media with Social

Unless you’ve been living under a vintage-effect-filtered rock, you’ve probably caught yesterday’s Facebook news, announcing their acquisition of mobile photo-sharing network, Instagram. If they hadn’t before, the small San Francisco company definitely “knows what’s cool” now, with the deal totaling $1 billion in cash and stock.

The amount of content being shared on Facebook is increasing at an exponential rate and, according to what many have dubbed “Zuckerberg’s law,” sharing on the world’s largest social network is now doubling every two years! It’s not surprising to find that much of that sharing is happening around user photos and videos, with more than 6 billion photos and 20 million videos uploaded to the social network every month. [tweet this]

Facebook’s photo-sharing growth is supported, in no small part, by their investment in mobile in recent years, removing barriers to sharing to the network from mobile devices. No doubt focused on cornering the on-the-go sharing market, the acquisition gives Facebook access to the 5M+ photos shared daily on Instagram [tweet this], along with the Instagram team’s experience in developing for mobile platforms.

While a mobile landgrab is certainly central to the deal, there’s another, less talked about trend at play that can’t be ignored: the web’s evolution to a curated media experience. Facebook has long sported the crown as the web’s largest photo-sharing network, and recent UI changes (Brand/User Timelines) suggest the company’s investment in a more media-centric user experience.

The valley’s other rising social star, Pinterest, has more than 12M users connecting solely around the shared love of photo curation. People love pictures and e-commerce professionals will do well to capitalize on this trend while the gettin’s good.

The Rise of (Social) Media in E-commerce

So how do these learnings apply to e-commerce? Visit any product page on your favorite brand site and you’re bound to find a plethora of glossy, marketing-approved, media options to help you engage with a product. Multiple product angles? Check. Video demos? Of course. Zoom and interactive options? Very likely… and the list goes on. But even the most savvy brands often neglect to include the type of media content that all of this sharing on social networks is happening around: user-generated media.

Photos and videos contributed by customers add authenticity to your content and allow users to get more intimately acquainted with your products through media from people like them.  In the same way that customers seek unbiased opinions to help guide their purchase decisions via customer reviews, community forums, and Q&A, user-generated images and video help users feel confident that they know exactly what they’re getting, before clicking “Add to Cart.” Adding media to the e-commerce experience can be so effective, in fact, that customers who view videos spend 2 more minutes on-site, on average, and are 64% more likely to make a purchase, according to ComScore. [tweet this]

3 Tips to Supercharge User-Generated Media

No user-generated media yet? No problem. Follow these 3 simple steps to jumpstart your own user-generated media program in no time:

  1. Make it Easy
    Thanks to our coveted tablets and smartphones, the tools needed to capture HD photos and video are never out of reach.  What’s more, all of our personal media is now automatically synced to our desktops, cloud storage, and social accounts. We recommend following up with users 21 days after a purchase, after they’ve had time to use a product (and the opportunity to snap a pic or two), inviting them to share their experience through reviews, images, and videos. Remove barriers to contributing media by offering easy-to-use options to upload media taken on a smartphone, uploaded to Facebook or YouTube, or saved locally.
  2. Gamify the Experience
    Apply proven gamification techniques to attach incentives to contribute such as points, badges, and other rewards. Shoe retailer, SKECHERS, offers points in exchange for reviews, video, and image contributions which can then be redeemed as discounts on future purchases. Physical rewards and discounts aren’t required, however, and most customers are satisfied to simply be acknowledged for their contributions. Step2, another PowerReviews client, saw a 10X increase in user-generated video submissions by simply offering points for uploading an image or video [tweet this]. The points are then tallied in a Loyalty Leaderboard, acknowledging top contributors with badges and rank, comparing their historical contributions to those of their peers.
  3. Supercharge Social Sharing
    Bring it all home and make it effortless for users to share images and videos with their social networks. Your customers all fancy themselves the next Scorsese, and they enjoy the feedback that comes with sharing an image or video on Facebook and other social networks. After a customer has contributed something on your site, make it easy for them to share with their social networks, adding their experience with your products to their personal Timeline, and a permanent update with links back to your product page.


Bonus Points: (see what I did there?) Apply gamification techniques to social sharing, as well. Further incentivizing users to share with their favorite social network, and driving more, qualified traffic back to your site.

What role does user-generated media play in your social strategy and what results have you seen?

To learn more about Step2’s success with social loyalty and how you can apply elements of their plan to your own social strategy, sign up for this week’s webinar today. (Wed. April 11th @ 10AM PDT)




Blake is Sr. Marketing Manager at PowerReviews focused on demand generation and social strategy. He's got 10+ years experience in web-based technology and is currently based in New York City. You can find Blake on Twitter: @blakeandwhtie

3 Responses to “Lessons from Facebook’s Instagram Acquisition: 3 Tips to Supercharge E-commerce Media with Social”

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