A few years ago, Yannick Lefang was looking at a friend’s photo on Facebook and really liked her dress. He thought it would be great to buy that dress for his girlfriend. But he had no way of figuring out where the dress came from, unless he messaged his friend on Facebook. He then began to think about all of the travel photos that are posted online and wondered how travel and tourism companies could promote their resorts and trips via user-generated travel photos.
“A photo is a gateway to emotions and memories. But a photo can also be a great storefront,” says Lefang. “We came across some data showing that Eventbrite (the online event ticketing service) sees an increase in ticket sales whenever someone shares with their friends on Facebook or Twitter that they have bought a ticket. I had a feeling that the same principle might be true if friends shared photo information about where they bought their outfit, or where they went on vacation.”
Lefang immediately called his friend, and now co-founder Yannick Tchatchoua, to help him prototype an interface where users can tag a photo of themselves to share product details with their friends. This became what is now known as BeUnick – an online photo tagging software platform where consumers can add valuable content to the photos they share online, discover new products and places through their trusted friends’ photos, earns rewards, save money and enjoy online shopping.
BeUnick has targeted Facebook as their first photo partner platform. That’s because “over 50B photos have already been shared on the social network. Plus, Facebook has created a really easy interface where users can select the areas that they want to tag, comment and then share their photos,” says Lefang. “We then take the brand name that the user has shared and connect it to an appropriate retail website. When someone mouses over the image, a pop-up will appear on an extra layer to display the product information.”
BeUnick gives users points in the form of stars, each time they share product info on a Facebook photo. Users can then redeem those points for retail and travel coupons, rebates and gifts from BeUnick partners.
A helpful BeUnick photo dashboard enables customers to track the status and progress of their rewards. Customers can also track the popularity of their branded photos, to learn how to create better branded photos in the future.
According to Lefang, there are different levels of user engagement. “When you start out, you are viewed by brands as an ‘associate.’ But as you achieve the highest level of photo tagging and brand engagement, you become a ‘brand ambassador’ on BeUnick,” says Lefang.
To get started, log on to www.beunick.com and you’ll have instant access to your photos on Facebook. Then, use the "Brand It" tool to select, brand and comment on your photos. As you share more content on your photos with BeUnick, you'll earn extra points that you can use towards rewards over time. Because the BeUnick website is still in beta, the Toronto startup doesn't have many brand partners yet.