Small businesses rely heavily on building connections with their customers and the best way to do so is by making your brand appear more human. Creating a brand that feels personable can be achieved by sharing your customers’ experiences using your products or enjoying your services, but what if we told you that you don’t need to create this content yourself. Instead share user generated content, any source of content created by a third-party often times a customer. Sharing user generated content will help you build trust with your customers, while helping you save the time and money it would take to create similar social media content yourself. In addition, user generated content is authentic, genuine, and much more trusted than content created in house. You don’t need to be a large brand to have a wealth of user generated content, you just need to know how to find it or how to encourage others to create it.
Post Testimonials and Reviews
The largest untapped resources for user generated content are company reviews that can be gathered from your website, Yelp, or Facebook. Customers trust one another’s opinions much more than they do businesses. In fact, they are likely to spend 31% more money on a business with excellent reviews. Take a look at your reviews and pick the ones that stand out, perhaps because they are personal, tell a story, or elaborate on something you want your customers to know. Create a cool graphic with the review and include your company logo or website url at the bottom to reinforce your brand. In your caption you can thank your customers for leaving positive reviews and elaborate on why the review means so much to you. You don’t need to promote your business because the review does that for you. You also don’t need to ask permission to post the review because it essential belongs to you.
Create a Hashtag Campaign
Create a hashtag that is specific to your brand then encourage your customers to include it in their social media posts. Odds are your followers will want to be featured because of the social currency of being associated with a brand the community knows and loves. You can also make it worth while to them by including an incentive. For example, you can offer a special discount or gift for those who use your hashtag and are featured on your social media page. Customers will make more of an effort to make their posts more visually appealing and representative of your brand knowing that you will be selective of what gets shared. Posting the content to your feed is always a good idea, but if you don’t feel that you can incorporate user generated photos and videos cohesively, you can even share user generated photos on your Instagram Story. Customers will still be able to view the featured content, but it will disappear within 24 hours. If you include an incentive, it will encourage your customers to frequently check your stories to see if they were featured for a prize. You don’t need to stick strictly to hashtags, you can also post images of people who tag your business’ handle in their images as well. But the advantages of using a hashtag campaign is that you can find and manage all your user generated content in one place by searching for your hashtag.
Post Discussion Questions
Discussion posts are especially effective at encouraging customers to create content for your brand on Facebook and Twitter because these platforms allow users to post photos in the comments section in response to your question. Customers are also more likely to share content on their Facebook and Twitter feeds in comparison to Instagram feeds because they aren’t as focused on the aesthetics. Sharing such content is extremely easy because both platforms allow you to repost by clicking either the “Share” or “Retweet” button, which allows you to post content to your brand’s feed without the fear of copyright infringement or the hassle of asking for permission. Discussion posts are also a great way to get feedback or reviews in real time to help improve your business. They also connect your customers with one another by allowing them to share their experiences. Think of discussion topics that are creative and would interest your followers.
Always Ask for Permission to Share
Content can be shared so easily on social media that many people fail to consider copyright laws. If you take a photo from a customer and post it as your own original work without consent and they are unhappy with it, they have the right to sue you for copyright infringement and the damages to your business can be severe. If it doesn’t come to such extremes, there is always the potential of losing that customer and others due to negative reviews. So before posting, send the customer a direct message or leave a comment asking if you can share their photo on your page. They will most likely say yes because of the social currency previously mentioned and they will respect your consideration to ask. Even if you are tagged in the post, whether it be your company handle, location tag, or a hashtag, not used for a campaign that is clearly branded, you still need to ask for permission. Being posted on your social media may not be their intention for tagging your business. Your business should also consider creating a “Permission to Use Content Agreement” that outlines how you intend to use the content. This ensures that you are all on the same page and you have it in writing that they agreed to let you use their post. Also include that there will be no compensation for the use of the original work. The following is an example of a content agreement form that JC Penny exchanges with customers before posting user generated content. The original author can agree to JC Penny’s content agreement by replying #YesJCP to their social post. This is especially important if you plan on using the content for commercial use, meaning you are using the image as advertisement or promotion of some sort rather than shouting the customer out.
Sharing user generated content is a win-win strategy for your brand because you get others to create content for you, increase social media engagement, and show prospect customers that you have a loyal following that trusts and respects your brand. But be aware of the nuances of each platform before sharing to avoid copyright infringement and to take full advantage of the platform’s features.
If your business needs help creating or building your company’s social media presence, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (727) 214-5844.