Customer-generated social media marketing focuses on your fans and customers. They are your best online “word of mouth” advertising. The biggest mistake companies make when launching social media campaigns is forgetting about the important role their customers/fans play. They think content alone is all they need.
Remember that boring class in college and how the teacher lectured the entire time? The teacher talked AT you and didn’t allow any class interaction. You probably lost interest very quickly.
The same concept applies to social media marketing. Don’t monopolize content and talk AT your customers 24, 7! Allow your customers and fans to have the floor—allow them to share THEIR experiences with you (both good and bad!). Customer interaction is the key to effective social media marketing.
Why Social Media Works
There’s a reason why social media is such a huge phenomenon. It wouldn’t work without PEOPLE - your customers and fans! Social media marketing offers the following benefits:
- Connects people who normally wouldn’t connect otherwise – Social media is “online conversation” and unites people with similar interests, goals, likes, etc. It allows people to share and create real connections with each other.
- Is user-friendly – ANYONE can learn how to easily navigate social networking sites, forums, blogs, etc.
- Appeals to everyone – Hits every demographic and appeals to mass audiences/markets across the globe.
- Delivers endless possibilities – Who thought that Facebook and MySpace would become so popular? Social media is constantly growing and changing and affording people new ways to interact online.
How You Can Guide Customers toward Generating Content
You want your customers and fans to create “user generated content” (UGC) - any online content created directly by users. UGC includes any comments on blogs, forums, social networking/bookmarking sites, review sites, etc.
UGC provides you with a unique opportunity to hear what’s on the minds of your customers and prospective customers. Furthermore, UGC allows companies to monitor their online reputations and respond directly to positive and negative comments posted by customers. Don’t ignore your customers, because you never know what they are saying about you on other sites!
So, if you are ready to guide your customers towards generating UGC about your company, here are a few steps you can take to start the online dialogue:
- Create contests featuring customers who use your products/services. Ask customers to send in photos or videos and share their experiences. Post on video sharing sites such as YouTube.
- Ask customers to write/share testimonials and endorsements – social proof packs a LOT of power on the Internet. If one person likes your product or service, then another person will want to try it, etc.
- Actively engage in forums and discussion boards. Interact with your customers and fans and create a strong online presence. Don’t be passive and just blast out content and expect to have a following! You need to be active and consistent on these sites.
- Ask bold questions at the end of your blog posts – i.e. “If you only had one month to live, how would you spend your time?” Watch the comments fly on your blog! It’s a great way to engage your followers and allows them to interact with each other.
- Encourage customers and fans to share their feedback of your products on consumer/product review sites. If you are on top of your product quality and customer service, this is an easy way to monitor your reputation/branding on these sites.
Eager for more? Check out Zeke's series "Getting Social Smarts" and his three podcasts below for more great social marketing information and tips!