Word of mouth has always been an important driver of successful social media marketing. When you enjoy a product or service, you tell others, who in turn, tell others-- The web grows. Consumers trust in an authentic review of a product/service from their peers. Before, the average consumer was able to influence their small group of friends and perhaps create a ripple effect on the greater community, affecting dozens, even hundreds of people. But in today’s world, inundated with social media, that ripple effect has been magnified tens or even one hundred times over. A single Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube post can reach millions of people in a matter of hours.
So it comes as no surprise that brands have turned their attention to social media as a new source of marketing content. Businesses in nearly every vertical have had tremendous success marketing with the voice of their own customers by leveraging user-generated content, not just on social networks, but also on owned media.
Businesses that use customer content on their websites, mobile shopping apps, and advertising see better conversion and click-through rates, higher average order values, and increased engagement and lift.
But it only works if customers and fans are posting about brands. Without social content, there is no social word of mouth. At Pixlee, we are often asked to address this issue. “How do I get my customers and fans to post more content about my brand?”
We’ve put together three easy first steps to quickly increase the volume of social conversation, and help get customers to post more content about your brand:
1. Promote an Evergreen Hashtag
If your brand does not already have an evergreen hashtag, then go ahead and create one. An evergreen hashtag is an overarching hashtag that represents your brand as a whole. More often than not, even if you have not promoted an evergreen hashtag, your customers have already created one for you. Find the existing hashtag or create a new one, and make it a part of your social media marketing strategy both on social media and throughout your marketing and owned media.
Use your evergreen hashtag in your branded social media posts, put it on packaging, highlight it on your website; make it easy for customers interacting with your brand to discover your hashtag and join the conversation with their own content. Also make sure to track hashtags in order to obtain valuable Instagram insights about your followers.
Pro Tip: Put your evergreen hashtag in all of your email signatures. Whether is be customer service emails, marketing blasts, or sales emails, make sure that when people interact with your business, they see your branded hashtag.
2. Run Contests & Incentivize Participation
This one is common and effective. One of the fastest ways to increase customer engagement on social media is through contests and campaigns.
Photo and video contests are a powerful because they give your fans and customers a reason to submit great content and share it with their own social communities. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box, and come up with clever and engaging programs. Encourage your audience to have some fun and get creative, but make sure the barrier to entry isn’t too high.
A great example of this was Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadow's ski resorts' #TahoeSnowDance campaign. The contest asked for fans to submit their best “snow dance” to help bring the winter snow! The idea was fun and easy for participants. The content and submissions that came in were incredibly entertaining. Here’s one of our favorite submissions that won a weekly giveaway:
Pro Tip: Give out prizes! Customers love the chance to get free swag or products and are much more likely to post high quality content when they have the chance to win a prize, no matter how small.
3. Celebrate your Customers on your Owned Media
Customers and fans love being recognized by the brands they love and support. Highlighting customer photos on your website, or reposting on your own social media is a surprisingly efficient and effective way to generate more content and conversation around your products and brand.
Create a real dialogue with consumers and join the conversation around your brand on social media. It really makes a difference to humanize your brand and generate brand affinity and loyalty. When customers see brand’s celebrating their customers and engaging with real people, it helps to validate your brand’s social presence and reach a larger audience.
A great example of this is Kenneth Cole's #KCStyle gallery. By celebrating customers directly on their homepage, Kenneth Cole continues to see increased engagement on both social media and on their website as more customers join the community and share their content.
Pro Tip: Find and leverage your key brand influencers. Not every customer photo is the same. By finding your top influencers and brand advocates and celebrating them in your brand’s owned media, you can dramatically increase brand awareness/lift and get the most out of those already promoting your brand organically.