How to Get Your Customers to Take and Share Photos of Your Business

Seventy percent of smartphone users share pictures from their phone on a regular basis. That’s an amazing number, and one that small business owners can tap into in a myriad of ways.

If you have a physical location — a retail store, restaurant or office — then you should be creating photo opportunities that make it easy for your customers to take and share photos.

Using Visual Stimulation

Let’s look at an easy example — restaurants. Restaurants serve food, and the most important part of food preparation (after hygiene) is presentation. We see the food before we taste it. It stimulates us. So, for restaurants, having customers take pictures of their meals is an easy win. There are even mobile apps and social networks dedicated to those pictures – like Foodspotting.

The atmosphere and decor of the restaurant can provide great photo-sharing opportunities, too.

Getting Creative

But what if you don’t serve food? What if you are a dentist or a law office or an accountant? What photo opportunities are you going to give your visitors?

Waiting rooms, after all, tend to all look the same — a few chairs, a side table with some magazines, maybe a plant in the corner and some framed prints on the wall. It says “blah” much more than it says take a photo and share it and tell your friends where you get your teeth, taxes, legal documents done.

This is where you need to get creative.

Embracing “Odd”

I spend a lot of time in vintage stores. I mainly go not to buy things but to photograph them. I love the curiosities that are always tucked away in a dusty corner of these stores, I love to find unique and unusual items, sometimes I even come home with a few of them. Vintage stores often make people stop and look twice. And many times, customers will pull out their smartphones and snap a picture to share with their networks.

Now if customers will do that in a vintage store because they see some oddity that they want to share, do you think they might do it when they see that curiosity in a setting like a waiting room? I’m pretty certain they would. Providing people with the opportunity to take and share fun images helps them increase their social capital, which is an important motivator for leveraging social media networks.

So visit a local vintage store, find some oddity that is either connected with your business or in fact has nothing to do with it, and put in the waiting room, reception area, restroom or some other part of your location that is likely to make customers do a double take. Then watch the photos start to appear and, of course, the mentions of your business.

What photos opportunities do you provide for your customers to make it easy and fun for them to share tidbits about your business?

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Simon Salt
Simon is CEO of IncSlingers, and is an author, blogger, writer and entrepreneur. His book on Social Location Marketing was published by QUE, a division of Pearson publications in February 2011. Simon has been published online by Mashable, Read Write Web and others.


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  1. Simon,

    Your post just reminded me of something I saw this weekend at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Scattered throughout the gardens and prairie were signs made to look like handmade chalkboards.

    Written on them were interesting facts about the plants, flowers and natural habitats, but what made them unique was that they were written in folksy natural language versus the typical scientific text you’d normally see. The best part was that many of the signs were titled ‘Photo OP’ and explained the steps you should take in order to frame the perfect shot. My favorite was one where it explained how to capture 2-3 waterfalls in the background behind your subjects.

    Many small businesses can encourage their customers and visitors to take photos of unique and beautiful items, especially flower shops, art galleries and interior design shops. It may seem counter-intuitive to have customers take pictures of your products, but most won’t buy them anyway and will only help to spread the word online.


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