Is your small business using user-generated content for marketing purposes? If not, it’s time to start. Sharing content generated by your customers, social media fans and website visitors is a smart way to not only lessen your content creation burden, but also make your customers feel more engaged with and involved in your business. Bonus: If it’s their content, they’re more likely to share it, which spreads the word about your business to even more prospective customers.
So how can you encourage and make the most of user-generated content? Here are four ideas.
- Encourage customers to share their personal stories on your business’s website or social media pages. Create a special section on your website where customers can submit their stories of how your business helped them learn something, overcome a challenge or do something better. For instance, if you own a children’s tutoring service, ask parents to share stories about how your services helped their children do better in school or improve their self-esteem. People love and relate to stories, especially if they’re inspiring, funny or touching.
- Don’t forget about photos. Not everyone is comfortable writing their story. Some people are visually oriented and prefer taking photos or videos. Encourage customers to post photos or videos of themselves using your product, at your location or otherwise engaging with your business. For instance, if you own a home remodeling business, you could ask customers to post “before and after” pictures of their homes. Do you sell women’s clothing? Ask customers to post a picture of themselves in their favorite outfit from your store or site.
- Use user-generated content to generate more. When a user posts a story, photo or video, be sure to respond online. Thank them for sharing and also encourage other customers to follow suit. For example, if a customer posts a picture of herself ready for prom on your boutique’s Facebook page, you could respond, “I love how you styled the prom dress you got from us, Melissa!” and then say “How is everyone else getting ready for prom? Share your outfit ideas with us—and maybe we can suggest some cool accessories to go with it!”
- Reach out to active users. You’ll soon find that some customers are very energetic in posting, sharing and writing about their experiences with your business. Reach out to some of these “raving fans” and see if you can use them in other marketing materials. For instance, you might want to film a customer for an online video testimonial or take photos to use in a marketing brochure or on your website along with a testimonial quote.
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Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at email@example.com, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.