The social media marketing world can quickly get overcomplicated as terms like CTR, CPM, and PPC get thrown around. In the end, the most important thing a company can do is focus on one simple truth: social media is a tool for relationship building.
The success of those relationships can be measured by all those quantitative distinctions with fancy acronyms to match, but exploring the quality of those relationships is what gets your ROI to jump from good to great.
As is true in any relationship, people want to feel that they are valued and appreciated. Posting a “thank you” tweet or sending out a mass email to all your brand’s followers takes care of that relationship in a sense, but can often be perceived as a common impersonal step in mediocre marketing. What can set your brand apart is putting in the extra effort to help your followers feel seen by giving them a chance to make a valuable contribution. This generates invaluable connection and lasting loyalty that’ll give your brand even more of a boost than you might expect.
User-Generated Content, otherwise known as UGC, is your best friend in this realm. Anything that’s been created by a member of an online following qualifies as UGC. In the digital marketing world, it’s become some of the strongest social currency online. Potential consumers often look to their likeminded peers for advice on which brands to follow, what products to try, and what services are worth the expense, much more so than clever advertising campaigns. Brands can repost or reply to what people have already said about their products and services online, integrating this content into their digital strategy. In doing so, you can hit thousands of birds with one stone: in a single interaction, you’ve accessed the existing social network of an individual with credibility a brand can’t achieve on its own.
In terms of ROI, this type of marketing strategy minimizes the amount of time and money spent creating original content by simply connecting with and valuing the contribution a follower has already made to its cause. In doing so, the relationship with the original follower is strengthened and hundreds if not thousands of new relationships are formed. To bring it into quantitative terms, Facebook ads utilizing UGC has shown 300% higher click-through rates and 50% lower cost per click.
Brands that have seen great success with this tactic tap into the lifestyle trends of their potential fan base. For example, Lululemon created a campaign using the hashtag #sweatlife, encouraging their followers to post pictures of themselves engaging in any range of athletic activities while using their products. People used Twitter and Instagram to show themselves doing exactly what they already do in their daily lives, just featuring the leggings, yoga mats, and branded items that have now garnered an enormous following.
Some brands gain even more momentum by offering an incentive for fans to participate in their campaign. Lays, for example, asked their fans to come up with ideas for a new chip flavor. The winning recipe earned a prize of 1 million dollars. They involved followers even more by having them participate in the voting process on Facebook and Twitter, meaning there were far more interactions with the brand that would have been possible without such a campaign.
To give an example, let’s say a follower of a non-profit posts a picture of themselves at one of the company’s events. That person has already done your cause a service by letting all their friends know who you are and that they’re a fan. By taking it one step further, that non-profit can comment on the post and repost it to their own channels, allowing existing relationships to speak for themselves.
This effort can also take care of the investment your team puts in to customer service. Rather than having all questions, concerns and comments fielded by a staff member, giving your following a voice and greater visibility makes room for them to be experts others can turn to. Say a health and lifestyle brand just released a new line of yoga pants. The brand can invite feedback on the new products through their channels and ask their followers to use a particular hashtag or comment on a particular post with their raves and reviews. An ambivalent buyer can then look to your account and get all the recommendations they need by simply scrolling through the posts and comments buyers have already created with minimal effort put in by your team.
In creating a loyal following, the most important thing to remember is caring for your brands network of relationships is foundational. By investing in the strength of that foundation, you’ll see that much of the rest of the work will take care of itself.
If you’d like to talk about using some of the above tactics and ideas for your brand, please go to the contact form and drop me a note. I’d love to talk with you! — Carole Baker