How to Solicit Visual Social Marketing Images from Customers - dummies

How to Solicit Visual Social Marketing Images from Customers

By Krista Neher

More and more businesses are using their customers to support their visual social marketing strategies. Harnessing the creativity and passion of your customers is a useful way to generate a lot of compelling visual content for social marketing.

Businesses of all types and sizes actively look to their customers to create photos and videos that can be used online for marketing purposes. Here are some ways to generate photos from customers:

  • Search online for images taken by customers. Many businesses are surprised to find that their customers are already shooting and sharing images and videos. Look on social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest for pictures that your customers may already be sharing. Or search for the name of your business at Google Images or a similar search page.

    Here is a search at Google Images for Coffee Emporium Cincinnati that results in a wide variety of beautiful images. If you find images or videos that you’re interested in using, contact the owner and request permission.


    There was a nonprofit that was desperately in need of images for its new website. No one had ever even hired a professional photographer. A quick online search and found three professional photographers who, collectively, had hundreds of fabulous photos from events. They contacted the photographers and requested permission to use their photos in exchange for credit on the client’s website.

    One of the three granted them permission, one never responded, and the third asked for $100. The result was that they were able to acquire, for $100, hundreds of professional photos that the nonprofit could immediately use on its site and social networks.

  • Ask your customers to supply images. Sometimes, all it takes is a request. Ask a customer to share her photos with you, and be sure to specifically request her permission to use the images in your marketing strategy.

    Pure Michigan does this by asking people to share photos using the hashtag #PureMichigan. The site regularly features the best images created by its fans, and these images are shared on its Pure Michigan Instagram account and Facebook pages. The benefit of this approach is that Pure Michigan has a wide variety of stunning images to use without having to hire a photographer.


  • Run a contest to get photos: Photo and video contests are powerful ways to generate lots of images that can be used for marketing. The terms and conditions should specifically state that the images may be used in marketing.

    General Electric (GE) ran a contest on Instagram asking people to shoot photos showing how GE inspires them, using the hashtag #GEInspiredMe. The winner was invited to a GE aircraft plant to take photographs to share online.

    The contest generated more than 4,000 submissions, and the images were shared on Instagram and Facebook and other social networks, driving customer engagement and awareness and giving GE photos to use in its marketing materials.