“You need a Facebook strategy!”
“Are you on Twitter yet?”
“A blog can be a really helpful way to get your name and expertise out on the web.”
As a small business, you’ve probably heard a lot of this before. And you nod your head and say, “Yes, of course,” because you know that everyone’s doing it.
You might have a Facebook or LinkedIn page and some presence elsewhere on social media, but keeping it populated with lots of good content and features for your business…well that’s another story. You have much more on your plate than just figuring out what status update to put on Twitter.
With that challenge in mind, here are five ways that your customers can help you create your content and make your social media more dynamic.
1. Write blog posts
Keeping up with a blog can be one of the harder things to do, but can be really helpful in allowing new customers to find you online. As opposed to a pithy 140-character statement or a fun shareable picture, a blog usually requires a few hundred words. Although this can seem like a big time commitment, you’re creating original content that can drive traffic to your website, show off your expertise, and build trust between you and your audience.
One way to cut down on the time drain is to offer your blog as a way for your customers to contribute to your business. Using your social media following and email contacts, invite customers to apply to write guest posts on your blog.
You can even choose a few blog ambassadors to write on your behalf. The extra benefit to this is that when people create content, they often want to share it even more, so before you know it, you have these bloggers writing entries and then sharing their experiences with your business all over the web!
2. Contribute photos and other visual content
Visual content can be some of the most effective and shareable content. Ask your customers to share photos of themselves interacting with your product or to share event photos that are relevant to your business in some way.
You can put the call-to-action out on social media or via email. If they share directly to your social media pages, suddenly you have a slew of great, engaging visual content and all you had to do was ask!
3. Write online reviews
Many small businesses could benefit from more online reviews — whether that be on a site like Yelp, Angie’s List, or TripAdvisor. You always want your customers to write real authentic reviews and not put words in their mouths, but you can always make the suggestion via email or social media and let them know that they can find you on these sites.
Oftentimes, customers have thought about writing the review, but they get busy and forget. The extra prompt of asking them will motivate them to take action and help you expand your presence online.
4. Write testimonials
Could your website benefit from having customers tell their authentic stories of their experiences with you? Consider asking your customers to write a short testimonial for you.
Ask customers on your email list if they’re willing to write short 1-3 sentence testimonials for you. This isn’t a very time consuming ask and you’ll acquire a lot of content for your website, blog, etc. Additionally, customers often like being featured, so they might be very open to and appreciative of having their name associated with a prominent feature on your website.
5. Share your content on social media
Besides asking your customers to create content for you, you could partner with them to actually get greater awareness for the content you want to get out there.
Provide easy ways for them to share, whether it’s asking customers to forward your monthly emails to a friend or posting a Facebook update and asking fans to share an offer. Make it really easy (and visually appealing) for fans to just click share on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.
Put these tips to work!
Add a call to action in your email newsletter asking your customers to be your ambassadors for you.
By selecting ambassadors, you can have a crew of people that create blog posts or share on social media on your behalf on a regular basis.
You could also use social media to ask customers to share content such as your blog posts or discounts, or to submit photos and testimonials to you. Test out making these requests at different times of day or through different social networks to see which ways are most successful for you.
Consider offering incentives to your customers for helping you with content or sharing on social media. A customer who shares your special offer the most on Facebook could be entitled to a discount or early access to a new product or service. These incentives don’t have to be anything major, they could be just small tokens of appreciation to thank your customers for helping your business to grow and succeed.
In summary, content creation is hard whether you’re a one-person shop or a 20-employee retailer. Getting support from your customers will be a huge help, strengthen existing relationships, and reflect well on you.
Your fans often want to help you succeed and are willing to offer up their skills, input, or followers to help you. Don’t underestimate the power of your customer base in expanding your content and building out your social media strategy.
For more information on building a brand ambassador program, you can read my previous posts here. Or ask your questions in the comments below!
Ali Hyatt leads marketing and product for Upward Labs, which creates software for businesses to build and manage brand ambassador programs to drive customer engagement and increase revenue and reach. Upward Labs is a former participant of Constant Contact’s Small Business Innovation Loft.