Now that the internet economy has matured considerably, most business owners know that it’s vital to actively update your website in order to keep it dynamic, interesting, and attractive to visitors. Equally, most people know the best way to do this is by creating original content regularly—but that doesn’t mean they can actually do it.
This list of reasons and excuses I’ve heard for why companies can’t or don’t create their own content is long and varied: They don’t have the in-house talent (have you heard we’re living in the gig economy? Hire a freelancer!); They don’t have the money (Then why are you spending money on expensive print ads?); And worst of all, they don’t have anything interesting to say (Then why, exactly, are you in business?).
If your company is still making the excuses above, then it’s time to revisit the basics of why unique content should serve as the backbone of your customer’s sales journey and your online presence. However, if you have ticked all those boxes and you are looking for ways to expand and diversify your content marketing strategy, then I’ve got a tip for you: ask your audience.
This may sound like a joke too good to be true. It is not. We live in a time where the endorsement of an individual in someone’s “tribe” (according to Seth Godin) so to speak, is far more powerful than a piece of paid or even earned media. If you can get your audience, demographic, or customer base to evangelise on your behalf then, well, you are basically winning the marketing game outright.
Now, this doesn’t mean simply having a “Reviews” section on your website. While those certainly can’t hurt, they are hardly an unbiased source. Would you ever put a bad review on your website? Of course not; your website visitor knows that, too. What I am talking about here is leveraging the power of unpaid (but maybe not entirely unsolicited) reviews, endorsements, and mentions from people who use your product or service, largely via social media and direct outreach.
Here are three ways to think about inviting your audience to create content for you—and leveraging it once they do, as a means of user generated content.
- First, check what is out there
As we learned a couple weeks ago, on this blog, that: “In the social media era, your brand is not what you say about it, it’s what people are saying about your brand.” This means it’s your job to be constantly monitoring what people are saying about you, good or bad. If you are using social media only to put out your own message and not closely paying attention to other people’s message about you, you are missing half the point.
Every single day, you should be looking out for mentions, tags, shout outs, blog posts and the like that mention you, your service, or are sending out your content. If you find one that’s negative, you should do your best to rectify it right away. However, if it’s positive, don’t just gloat and send it to the boss—amplify it. This can be in the form of a retweet, repost, or asking for permission to republish a piece of content (a customer’s personal blog post, for example) on your own website and then pushing it out on your own social channels. This is simply a matter of seeing what’s already out there, and putting it to use in your content marketing strategy and social media output, but it’s surprising how many people skip it.
- Use giveaways or competitions
While this is more applicable to the B2C sphere, carrying out competitions or giveaways on social media is a great way to incentivise and invite people to create content on your behalf. Perhaps you are able to give away a free trial of your product, a sample, or a prize, or a discount. You then ask your followers on social media to create some unique piece of content using a unique hashtag (“Example: Show us on Instagram how you use our widget using the hashtag #WidgetWonder and you will get 25% off your next order.”) in exchange for this freebie or giveaway. And all of a sudden, you have a wealth of content to choose from.
While in most cases it is legally okay to “repost” content when it’s posted from a public account, etiquette and best practice suggest that you should ask the poster first. However, a simple exchange in the comments requesting permission is enough. Executed well (and not too often) a competition or giveaway is an ideal way to cultivate excitement about your brand and create a content pool you can pull from in the future.
- Provide CTAs everywhere you can
Ask your demographic, audience, and followers what they think on the regular. Do this in the form of polls on Twitter, newsletter CTAs, or Facebook surveys. This gets your audience engaged in what you are doing and could potentially result in great social collateral for you to use. Contrary to popular belief, engagement is far more important on social media than follower counts (1,000 followers with 150 interactions per day is far better than 10,000 followers with just 10), so use frequent CTAs around content to drive up these interactions.
Tip #4: Use Social Media to engage your audience to create content for you. Giveaways & CTAs in polls or newsletters help you to do it. But always keep monitoring what is being said about you!
If you want to learn more about developing your content marketing strategy, aligning it with your sales funnel, how it fits into your website's marketing and using Twitter for your business, please see these links below:
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