When it comes to social media marketing, brands are getting personal. Gone are the days of heavy-handed campaigns that push advertising messages to widespread audiences. Instead, today’s brands recognize that a key part of customer conversions and loyalty is connecting with consumers one on one.
This connection is never more seamless than when brands inspire customers to participate on social media by interacting, discussing and sharing content. Even – or especially – when that content consists of a cultural phenomenon: selfies.
Selfies make up a massive portion of millennial communication, which has been made evident by channels like Snapchat and the market for selfie sticks. Kim Kardashian arguably helped elevate the selfie trend to a movement with staying power – she wrote the book on selfies, after all – and her personal brand provides an example of how marketers can seize the opportunity created by consumers’ affinity for selfies.
In the same way Kim frequently engages with followers on social media, brands can personally engage with audiences and inspire them to take and share their own selfies, snaps and other types of user-generated content (UGC). This content can then be included in marketing campaigns and used to build a brand community, which attracts more new customers and encourages more brand advocacy than one-sided advertising ever could.
Whether you’re already marketing with UGC or unsure of where to start, every marketer can more effectively reach and inspire audiences by taking a few lessons from the Kardashians.
Let your customers know you’re listening.
Your customers and prospects are already creating content. To align it with your brand, you simply need to give them a reason to share – and show them you’re listening. For example, when SoulCycle launched a campaign to attract new male customers while supporting Movember, a men’s health movement, the company asked: what obstacles stand between you and the gym?
Using the hashtag #NoMoExcuses, consumers shared photos that included their reasons for avoiding working out or not trying a cycling class. SoulCycle collected real customer feedback, and it started a relatable conversation about health and fitness. By the end of the month-long campaign, SoulCycle gained 5,300 new male customer referrals – 35 percent more than its average intake.
One good selfie is more valuable than 100 blurry photos.
You know a bad selfie when you see one. Maybe you took it when you were distracted, blinking or holding your phone at an odd angle. In any case, if you were Kim K., you’d never post it to Instagram. As a marketer collecting UGC, use the same discretion; don’t settle for the B-roll when you want customers to bring their A-games.
High-quality UGC can have a lasting impression on your target audience. The right photos communicate your brand’s identity, transform customers into brand advocates and infuse authenticity throughout your marketing messages. To guarantee the lasting value of the content you collect, demonstrate a high standard by calling attention to quality examples. When a customer shares a unique, valuable photo or post that embodies your brand’s image, highlight it on your social channels and recognize the creator’s achievement. The incentives you give customers to create UGC shouldn’t be confined to traditional options like coupons and giveaways – in many cases, simply acknowledging participants’ work is highly rewarding and inviting for brands and audiences alike.
Don’t be afraid to show off.
According to Nielsen, consumers are 83 percent more likely to trust peer recommendations than branded advertising. When your audience shares selfies and other campaign contributions, don’t think of them as one-time exchanges. Let them form the basis for one-to-one conversations between your brand and its customers. In turn, you’ll invite new participants to join your circle and advocate for your brand.
For example, if you’re an airline company, you might highlight customers’ best selfies from exotic travel locations. A makeup brand might host a contest that invites followers to share photos as they recreate their style icons’ trademark looks. No matter the market, by inspiring users to create authentic content and aligning it with your brand’s identity, you can form lasting relationships with customers who begin to see your company as less of an advertiser, and more of an influencer.
Jeff Soriano is Senior Director of Demand Generation for Offerpop