Turbocharge Your Visual Marketing With User-Generated Content from Instagram

By , On December 3rd, 2014. In Industry Insights, Instagram Marketing, Piqora Features.

With the potential for driving unprecedented levels of engagement, Instagram is closing in on Facebook as the marketing channel for brands to build strong emotional bonds with their audiences and engage in powerful visual storytelling. But nowhere is the old “Content is King” adage more true than Instagram. While it’s a well known fact that quality content is the key to success on Instagram, many brands are not taking advantage of the MASSIVE potential of another, extraordinarily powerful source of content: their fans. Instagrammers love producing User-Generated Content that features their favorite brands, and featuring your fans’ images on your brand’s Instagram profile comes with the following benefits :

  • AUDIENCE RETENTION: It keeps those users you featured (and others hoping to get recognized) coming back to you for more.
  • BRAND LOYALTY: Your fans love your brand. By featuring their photos on your Instagram feed, it lets your fans know how much you love them back, fostering customer love and creating powerful brand advocates.
  • INCREASED REACH: The more users you have creating content about your brand, the more new people your content will reach organically.
  • COST-EFFECTIVE, UNIQUE, AND AUTHENTIC MARKETING CONTENT: Instagram is the perfect place to crowd source beautiful, original marketing content.

Regardless of your business model, showcasing UGC on your Instagram profile is a great move.  It has paid huge dividends for brands like Audi; by maintaining a “human” feel and highlighting UGC, they have been able to drive extraordinary levels of engagement. In fact according to one study, Audi has the highest engagement level of any car brand, even outperforming brands like MTV and Starbucks, which have much larger audiences on Instagram.

UGC can drive serious engagement on Instagram.  Audi posted this shot that one of their fans captured of an A3 hatchback paired with a beautiful sunset, and more than 35,000 gearheads from around the world loved it!

UGC can drive serious engagement on Instagram. Audi posted this shot that one of their fans captured of an A3 hatchback paired with a beautiful sunset, and more than 35,000 gearheads from around the world loved it!

Other brands have taken UGC a step further in their marketing strategy. Z Gallerie uses Instagram to showcase their products and capture the imagination and passion of their followers, and their posts regularly generate thousands of likes each. But rather than relying on expensive professional photographers, most of Z Gallerie’s stunning Instagram content comes from their fans.

UGC takes center stage in Z Gallerie's Instagram feed

UGC takes center stage in Z Gallerie’s Instagram feed

“The majority of the content we post is carefully curated from our customer base,” said Loren Mattia, a social media specialist at Z Gallerie.  “We find that our community relates more to these because they find the styles accessible. The approachable nature of our photos and the fact that they are in-stream with photos of our customer’s friends, family, and coworkers makes our customer feel more at ease and less ‘marketed to.’”

There are more than 60 million photos posted to Instagram every day. At a time when many brands grapple with consistently producing quality visual content, this flood of UGC can offer a powerful, low-cost, high-quality solution.

Lost a Bunch of “Followers” in #Instapurge? Don’t Worry About It Too Much.

By , On December 19th, 2014. In Industry Insights, Instagram Marketing.

Well, the smoke is clearing after the #Instapurge.  Instagram had been warning its users for a while that they would be making a change to remove spammy accounts, and remove them they did. Big time, especially if you happen to be a celebrity. In the past 24 hours, Justin Bieber lost 3.5 million followers, Akon lost more than a million, while Kim Kardashian, Katy Perry, Rihanna, and even Oprah saw huge losses to their follower counts. Nor were celebrities the only ones who were impacted by the wholesale house cleaning; brands got hit as well. PacSun, for example, lost more than 100 thousand followers.

Image courtesy of Fstoppers

Image courtesy of Fstoppers

Honestly, this really isn’t a bad thing; if anything, it should open the doors to more honest and genuine interactions and connections between fans and brands. Instagram states that this was done specifically to remove spam accounts, or accounts that violated its community guidelines. So brands that lost a lot of followers didn’t likely lose any real fans, or at least not many that were actively engaging with them. As we’ve said for a long time, Follower Count shouldn’t be the most important part of social media strategy. It’s far more important for brands to engage with and encourage action from their fans, rather than simply have a lot of them. So if you have lost followers in the wake of #Instapurge, here’s a few of our top recommendations to start getting them back, with interest!

  1. Double Down On Your Existing Fans. Focus on your existing relationships, rather than scrambling to replenish numbers. That means taking every opportunity to engage with them, and a great way to do that is…
  2. Respond to All Comments on Your Instagram Content. Evaluate all the comments that your fans are leaving on your posts, and respond to them whenever possible and appropriate. By doing so, you will foster real, meaningful relationships with your true fans. Furthermore, evaluate these comments and other indications of engagement, such as Likes on your posts. If people are engaging with your content, that means your content is working, and a good content strategy is the key to audience building.
  3. Good Hashtagging Gets You in Front of Relevant Potential New Followers. Hashtags are how people discover content on Instagram, and an effective hashtag strategy is key to extending your reach.  At Piqora, our research has shown that adding 7 hashtags to your posts can increase likes by up to 25 percent, and can help you gain visibility beyond your existing followers and grow your community.
  4. Run a fun, Follow-Only Promotion. Instagram photo contests are one of the fastest ways to build followers on the platform. A follow-only promotion has the lowest barrier to entry of any kind of contest, and generally the highest participation rate. Running a great promotion is a fast track to replacing those lost followers with new, genuine and real fans, so check out our Guide to Instagram Photo Contests to find out how you can best harness these powerful tools!


Want to Generate a Ton of UGC? Run an Instagram Photo Contest!

By , On December 15th, 2014. In Industry Insights, Instagram Marketing, Piqora Features.

Instagram photo contests are awesome tools for gaining followers, driving website traffic, moving audiences over from other networks like Facebook or Twitter, and promoting products. They are also the single most powerful resource brands can harness to harvest creative, high-quality User-Generated Content. As we’ve mentioned before, incorporating UGC on your brand’s Instagram profile and website can deliver some stunningly powerful benefits, such as enhanced audience retention, reach and brand loyalty, as well as being a great source of cost effective marketing content.

Instagram Photo Contests are an integral part of West Elm's strategy for generating user-generated content

Instagram Photo Contests are an integral part of West Elm’s strategy for harvesting User-Generated Content

West Elm, for example, relies heavily on UGC for their Instagram content. And while many of their posts are organic submissions from their fans, they regularly capitalize on photo contests to generate thousands of images that they then repurpose on their marketing channels.

Instagram Photo Contests come with tons of additional benefits. For one, they are an easy way to scale up harvesting and permissioning UGC photos, as in the contest’s terms & conditions, brands can ask for the rights to use any photo entries on social media, websites, or in advertising. They are also fantastic for promoting products. Let’s say that your brand is running a campaign for your new catalogue. By running an Instagram contest around it, you not only promote your products, but you could collect UGC photos and in turn use them in your marketing campaigns.

These are just a couple of use cases, but the key to getting a lot of UGC out of your contest is to design it with that objective in mind. If generating UGC is the primary goal of your contest, here are a few simple ways to design your contest to ensure success.

  1. If QUALITY is your primary concern, make it a judged contest. Instagram is the perfect place to crowd source beautiful, original marketing content. A judged contest encourages maximum quality for each submission, as contest participants will step up their game if they know that they have to compete against others to win. The participation rate might be lower, but the quality of photos will usually be much higher, enabling you to republish those photos and tell a beautiful visual story about your brand.
  2. If QUANTITY of content is what you want, lower the barrier to entry. “If there is one thing we’ve learned from Instagram contests, it’s to make the concept simple and digestible so that both brand advocates AND those who have never heard of us can enter,” said Loren Mattia, a social media manager at Z Gallerie. “We try our best to avoid adding unnecessary steps or flourishes that the average potential customer doesn’t care about. The easier it is to participate, the more people will.”
  3. Offer a relevant, valuable prize. Offering a fantastic prize give people a compelling reason to participate in your contest. Based on our research, the average Instagram contest reward has a value of approximately $850, but a great prize doesn’t have to be mammothly expensive. Focus on choosing a prize that will resonate with the interests and likes of your fans, and is in line with your brand.
There are more than 60 million photos posted to Instagram every day. At a time when many brands grapple with consistently producing quality visual content, this flood of UGC can offer a powerful, low-cost, high-quality solution. Because they inherently rely on UGC for submissions, Instagram photo contests are the best way to harness this resource, and a well-designed and executed Instagram contest can build your audience and encourage your fans to create beautiful content for your brand. These are just a few of the ideas and resources that are available from Piqora; to learn more about launching a successful Instagram photo contest,  download our in-depth guide to Instagram Photo Contests!

5 Quick Tips For Holiday Pinning

By , On December 12th, 2014. In Pinterest Best Practices.

Happy Holidays! ‘Tis the season for shopping, gifting, cooking and decorating which means.. a lot of people are looking to Pinterest for inspiration. It’s time to step up your pinning strategy (and frequency) to keep your brand at the forefront of this festive frenzy. Here are 5 quick tips to get you started:

  1. Create Holiday Boards
  • Don’t underestimate the importance of board titles! Use holiday-themed keywords to help increase visibility in search results.
  • Holiday board theme ideas: while it is tempting to push out mass amounts of product pins (it is shopping season, after all) remember that Pinterest is more than an e-commerce platform; it is a place for your brand to connect with your audience and inspire them.
    • “Product” Pin Themes: Gift Lists (for him/ for her), Top Gifts, Unique Gifts, etc.
    • “Sentiment” Pin Themes: The holiday season is all about wonder and tradition. Hit on themes like family, sharing, cooking, crafting & decorating, cozy-ness, etc.

Holiday Boards


Already have holiday boards? Be sure to feature “in season” boards by dragging them to the top/ left portion of your Pinterest profile. Switch up the cover photo and add some new pins to make your old holiday boards seem fresher than a newly cut pine tree.


  1. Use High-Traffic Keywords
  • Much like board titles, pin descriptions are incredibly important for maximizing exposure.
  • Think of how people will be searching Pinterest; include high traffic words (holiday, gifts, etc.) as well as terms that describe your product.

Holiday Keywords  


  1. Add Holiday Products to Current Boards
  • Identify some top performing boards and add seasonal products to them to leverage your existing audience.
  • Don’t be afraid to double pin! A holiday pin can be posted to both a holiday board and a different, relevant board (ex: a holiday sweater can be pinned to “Holiday Wish List” as well as “Cozy Sweaters”).

Xmas Sweater 2


  1. Increase Pinning Activity
  • People are spending more time on Pinterest during the holidays; scale your pinning activity accordingly.
  • With Piqora’s Smart Scheduler, you can schedule up to 100 pins per day!

Increase Pinning Activity


  1. Leverage Rich Pins
  • Product Pins stand out with extra details like price and availability (which are automatically inserted) in addition to your pin descriptions.
  • Product pins will also show up in the Pinterest Gifts category!

RIch Pins

Pinterest Gifts


If you have any questions, please feel free to contact your dedicated CSM. Happy holidays & happy pinning!


Margie Burton
Sr. Customer Success Manager

Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2014 Pinterest Shopping Data & Infographic

By , On December 11th, 2014. In Pinterest.

Did anyone get a ton of holiday shopping done over the Thanksgiving weekend? I definitely did!

This year, e-commerce revenue from Pinterest grew an average of 25% on Black Friday and 74% on Cyber Monday from 2013 to 2014. During the entire Thanksgiving shopping weekend, Pinterest-sourced revenue increased 71% from 2013. Our data revealed that Revenue-per-Pin also increased 55% on Cyber Monday and 4% on Black Friday.

For retailers, Thanksgiving always been a monumental weekend as many holiday shoppers are eager for Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. This year, the value of e-commerce orders from Pinterest drove a 18% increase in Pinterest referral traffic on Thanksgiving weekend (with a 16% increase on Black Friday and 23% increase on Cyber Monday compared to 2013).

When I was in high school, I would look at newspaper ads the night before Black Friday and mapping out my shopping plan of attack. Fast forward to today; shoppers no longer need to stand in line at 4am to wait for brick-and-mortar store locations to open so they can get the best deal or the right gift on their shopping list. Instead, they are increasingly spending more time discovering products online and leveraging Pinterest as the inspiration and initial source during their shopping journey.

So what does all of this mean exactly? First, people aren’t just shopping on Black Friday anymore but instead, using all of the days of that long Thanksgiving weekend to shop and prepare for the holidays, especially Cyber Monday. Second, Pinterest is often where shoppers are first introduced to a brand or product and where they are discovering, curating and in turn, purchasing products.

Check out our new infographic sharing more Pinterest and holiday shopping data and insights.

Happy holidays!

Data is based on subset of Piqora customers who have connected their Adobe Omniture Analytics, Google Analytics or IBM Coremetrics to the Piqora ROI Dashboard.

Piqora Thanksgiving Infographic

Publish Instagram Content on Your Home Page with Foto Gallery!

By , On November 21st, 2014. In Instagram Marketing, Piqora Features.

Piqora’s new Foto Gallery tool enables you to take the best User Generated Content from Instagram that relates to your brand, moderate it, and publish it on your site to create authentic visual stories, inspire your audience and build meaningful, powerful connections with your brand advocates.

This is a live Foto Gallery of the best photos from #myopenkitchen that tells a visual story about Williams-Sonoma's community and products

This is a live Foto Gallery of the best photos from #myopenkitchen that tells a visual story about Williams-Sonoma’s community and products

Our research indicates that incorporating UGC on your site can increase time on site by up to 16%. Foto Gallery allows your brand to create fully moderated galleries in a seamless, beautiful way and easily publish them on any web page or Facebook Tab. These galleries are created by showing you all the Instagram content that relates to your branded hashtag, such as Land of Nod’s #landofnod, or campaign hashtags on category pages like Williams-Sonoma does with #myopenkitchen.


Deploying Foto Gallery is simple, as the gallery will be completely set up by one of Piqora’s Customer Success Managers. All you have to do is choose your favorite photos that are posted with your chosen hashtag! To see how Foto Gallery can put your UGC to work, contact us to set up a demo!

Check out our New Guide for Home Decor Marketing on Pinterest and Instagram!

By , On November 17th, 2014. In Industry Insights, Instagram Marketing, Pinterest Best Practices, Pinterest Marketing.

Home décor is one of the top three content categories on Pinterest, and one home goods brand we studied is generating more than $3.5 million a year in revenue from Pinterest alone.

To help home décor marketers take advantage of the massive opportunities available to them on Pinterest and Instagram, we’ve created The Ultimate Guide to Pinterest & Instagram Marketing for Home Decor Brands, packed with insights, tips and techniques from top brands like Z Gallerie, Pottery Barn, Wayfair and others to teach you how to create a rich experience for your audiences on Pinterest and Instagram. We cover everything from content strategy and harnessing hashtags to setting and achieving the goals that will help you succeed on the Visual Web. You can download the guide here, and if you’d like to learn more please join us November 25th at 10am PT for a live webinar to learn how home decor can leverage Pinterest and Instagram to drive revenue, create inspiration around and discovery of their products and build relationships with their audiences.

Thanksgiving on Pinterest and Instagram: What Brands Need to Know

By , On November 11th, 2014. In Instagram Marketing, Pinterest, Pinterest Best Practices, Pinterest Marketing, Piqora Features.

Holidays are huge on Pinterest and Instagram, and Thanksgiving is no different. How big of a deal is Thanksgiving? Here are a few quick stats:

  • Last year, online shopping on Cyber Monday hit $2.29 billion in sales, up 16 percent year-over-year. This is a good indicator that online shopping sales will continue to increase this year.
  • During the Thanksgiving holiday last year, $150M in revenue came from social media. Pinterest saw a 17% year-over-year growth, and is continuing to grow.
  • According to our research, compared to a 30-day average preceding Thanksgiving, revenue from Pinterest was up by 2x over the Thanksgiving weekend and on Black Friday, and up by 3.6x on Cyber Monday. 

From recipes and decoration ideas on Pinterest to Black Friday promotions, Thanksgiving provides an excellent opportunity for brands to connect with their communities. And to help brands get the most out of the holiday, our marketing team got their heads together for a round table discussion about the top things brands should know about Thanksgiving on Pinterest and Instagram.


If you don’t have time to watch the video, here are some of the key takeaways we discussed:

  • If you’re considering launching a Thanksgiving promotion on Pinterest or Instagram, it’s important to launch the promo early and promote it heavily on all of your available social channels.
  • Thanksgiving promotions specifically provide opportunities to inspire online and encourage your audience to take offline action. For example, a promotion around Thanksgiving decorating not only gets people Pinning, but being creative in real life when putting together their table decorations.
  • It’s critical to think outside the box — you don’t have to be a food or home decor brand to launch a Thanksgiving promotion. It’s a holiday that all brands can relate to.

These are just a few of the things we discuss in the video. If you want to learn more about developing a Pinterest strategy for this holiday season, please join us on Thursday, November 13 at 10am PT for a live webinar. During this webinar, we’ll show you how Pinterest can help brands and retailers connect with their customers in authentic, engaging ways during the holidays. Happy Thanksgiving!!

Wondering if Your Brand Should be on Pinterest? Your Content Probably Already Is.

By , On November 6th, 2014. In Pinterest Analytics, Pinterest Marketing.

So here’s a fundamental truth about Pinterest: more than 90% of Pins originate from websites, not from Pinterest profiles (by the way, if you want to take advantage of that stat and optimize your website for Pinning, we have a guide for that!) Millions of people Pin images from their favorite brands’ websites every day, and as a result the majority of brand engagement on the platform actually happens outside of brands’ owned Pinterest accounts.  While this might sound scary to marketers at first, it shouldn’t; what this means is that people are anxious to engage with your brand, and Pinterest offers a huge opportunity to do just that.

Take auto makers, for example. While some car companies (like Aston Martin, who have nearly 200,000 followers) are seeing huge success on Pinterest, many others aren’t very active on the platform.

Aston Martin kills it on Pinterest; they even have a board dedicated to showcasing their longstanding relationship with James Bond

BMW for example has more than a million followers on Instagram, but they don’t even have an official Pinterest profile. The story doesn’t end there though, because a quick Pinterest search reveals thousands of images devoted to their brand.

Even though your brand might not be active on Pinterest, your content certainly is

Even if your brand isn’t active on Pinterest, your content certainly is

Even car makers who are active on the network often see exponentially greater engagement outside of their own  profile. Chevrolet for example has a great Pinterest profile, populated with more than 400 Pins. However, those pale in number to the thousands of images Chevy’s fans have posted to the network. All these images being Pinned outside of Chevy’s profile indicate an incredible level of brand engagement, and perfectly illustrate the power of Pinterest as a discovery platform.

Chevy Discovery Blog

The comment on this Pin, which came from outside of Chevrolet’s official profile, perfectly illustrates the power of Pinterest as a platform for generating brand awareness

This trend is certainly not unique to the auto industry. And while some brands might be concerned by all of these public conversations about their products happening outside of their control, they should actually be encouraged.  First of all, people generally Pin things they love or want to buy, so a Pin on Pinterest is a de-facto endorsement of your products or services. Secondly, interactions on Pinterest are overwhelmingly positive, especially when compared to networks like Facebook and Twitter.  So for brands that are proactive in engaging in these conversations, Pinterest offers a golden opportunity to foster meaningful, positive relationships with their fans and followers.

Top Question from Social Fresh: What Are the “7 Magic Hashtags?”

By , On October 31st, 2014. In Industry Insights, Instagram Marketing.

Piqora  socialfresh

Happy Halloween!! We just got back from the Social Fresh West conference in San Diego. The event was packed with amazing speakers covering the latest advances and techniques in the world of social media. If you want to check out the presentation that the Piqora team shared, you can view it here.

Of all the tips, techniques and insights we shared at Social Fresh, by far the most number of questions emerged around our advice that for optimal engagement, you should add up to seven hashtags to your Instagram posts. 

Hashtags are the key to conversation building and brand discoverability on Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter. They enable brands to participate in broader conversations, gain visibility beyond their followers and grow their community. By correctly leveraging them and adding up to seven hashtags, you can see nearly 25% increases in the number of likes on each of your posts. Just be aware that while you may get away with adding up to eight, there’s a huge drop off at nine, as people will start to see that as spam.

Dec 2013 Instagram Study Piqora2



So What Hashtags Should You Use?

Most brands are underutilizing hashtags: nearly 30% of posts have no hashtags, while more than half average one or less. Adding just three can result in huge gains in engagement, but only 10% of brands are doing so, while just 4% are in the optimal range.

Brands underutilizing hashtags


From our research, we’ve learned that the ideal hashtag mix is: 1 brand name, 1 “owned” hashtag (a hashtag that you make up, that is strongly associated with your brand/message) and between 2-5 “community” hashtags. Community hashtags are those that are relevant to your brand and the post, have broad appeal, and are commonly and widely used. By way of example, if you were Nike, the hashtags on one of your posts might be #Nike (your brand) #JustDoIt (owned hashtag) #Running#Fitness#Health#Athlete (community hashtags).
If you want more information, you can download our Instagram Hashtag Report, which incorporates research drawn from more than 200 brands and hundreds of thousands of Instagram posts. But in the meantime, here are a few recommendations to help you get the most out your hashtag strategy. Happy Instagramming!
1. Think & Act like an Instagram user

Do your best to make your brand act like a person. Don’t just use your branded hashtag – it can come off as too promotional. Learn which hashtags your target audience is already using (especially influencers!) and add them regularly to your posts so long as they are relevant. When selecting hashtags, think about what users want. Use natural keywords like, and also try spicing it up (i.e instead of #fitness, try #fitnessaddict.)

2. Choose hashtags that are appropriate for your business vertical

Contextualizing things based on your business vertical is a great way to figure out which hashtags to use. For example, if  you are an e-commerce brand, consider using color names (i.e. #cutepink), product attributes (i.e. #rustic), or product categories (i.e. #outdoorfurniture). Or, if your brand relates to fitness, consider category hashtags such as #yoga, #crossfit and result-oriented hashtags like #lookgood, #feelstrong etc.

3. Want to get discovered? Think SEO

Instead of punching keywords into a search bar, Instagrammers search for hashtags they are interested in. As an Instagram SEO’er, your goal is to add relevant hashtags that your target audience is searching for. Be sure that some have broad appeal and are commonly used: those help you get incremental reach and visibility beyond your profile followers.