It’s one of the latest trends on social media, and you may have even taken part in it, not realizing what you were doing. Have you ever posted a picture of yourself on social media with a product after seeing a post encouraging you to do so? Have you ever reviewed a product online? If you have, then you have taken part in what is known as consumer generated media, or user-generated content. Read on to find out why should you be using it for your own business.
What is User Generated Content?
User-generated content is the term used to describe content created by consumers and then shared on business social media pages or on their own social media accounts with an identifying hashtag. One of the most prolific users of user-generated content is the Coca Cola Company. Through marketing campaigns and in-store displays, consumers were encouraged to take photos of themselves with bottles of Coke bearing their name, or bottles with other sayings on them such as “Friend”, “Grillmaster”, “Bro”, etc. and post them on Coke’s Facebook page with the hashtag #ShareaCoke.
How Does it Benefit a Company to Encourage User-Generated Content?
People love to post pictures of themselves on social media. It only takes a few minutes of looking through Facebook and Instagram to see that. Most consumers don’t see this type of marketing as “advertising” because it creates shareable photo opportunities, which we have already established they love to do. Those shareable photo opportunities create engagement, which is the ultimate goal of social media for business. According to Mainstreethost.com., content generated by users receives 50% more engagement, has a 73% higher click-through rate, and is 85% more influential than traditional marketing techniques. The #ShareaCoke campaign has netted Coca Cola an impressive 500,000 shares on social media and they gained 25 million followers due to the campaign.
So how can the average small business owner with an even smaller marketing budget put this type of marketing to work for their business? Luckily, it will cost you next to nothing to create a user-generated content media campaign of your own.
Ask Your Customers to Post Projects on Social Media Using Your Products
If your business does not at least have a Facebook page and a Twitter feed, you really should consider doing so. Millions of people scour Facebook and Twitter on a daily basis, looking for fun and interesting posts, and many of those people love to engage with the other users of social media. As a paint & decorating retailer, you can use this to your advantage by creating a social media post asking your customers to post pictures of themselves with the results of their latest room makeover done with a certain brand of paint, or a furniture re-finishing project done with a certain brand of stain. Place an in-store display by a product and encourage customers to post pictures of themselves using that product, or pictures of their results. Pick a product you would like to feature, and create a project of your own using that product. Post the picture and tell your followers you’d like to see what they have done with the same product. Make sure to have them include a hashtag such as “#ABCPaintCoProject” or “#ABCPaintCoMakeover” in your post – you will then be able to search that hashtag and see immediately who has engaged with your post. As an added incentive for people to post, you could create a contest for most creative/best use of the product, and award the winner a gift certificate for future purchases.
Encourage Online Reviews
Amazon, anyone? Who hasn’t hopped online at Amazon just to check out the reviews for a product? Amazon knows that getting you on their website is most of the battle, so even if there are some bad reviews thrown in, there are still sales to be made from review-seekers. While some retailers cringe at the thought of disgruntled customers posting bad reviews online, it is still to your advantage to encourage your customers to let others know what they think of your store. You can have your website set up to receive reviews directly, or ask your social media followers to place posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., after they have made a purchase from you. Of course, make sure your employees are well trained and are giving the best customer service possible to your customers before encouraging online reviews. Also, make sure you will be monitoring your social media accounts regularly because you will want to engage with customers leaving reviews. Good reviews? Say thank you! Bad reviews? Apologize and offer to correct the situation to the reviewer’s satisfaction.
Letting your customers advertise your business for you may be one of the most cost-effective marketing techniques you will ever use. Get creative, do a search for user-generated content online and take a look at what others are doing. With a little thought, you can create a campaign that will encourage your followers to fill your Facebook and other social media pages with posts “marketing” your products for you! In addition to being able to engage with their favorite businesses online, consumers like to know that the businesses they buy from are listening and are responsive to what they have to say. Give user-generated content a try and you may just be surprised at the enthusiastic response you receive from your loyal customers and social media followers.