Posts in promoting brands
The power of partnership: collaboration over competition

I love working with other businesses! It's a great way to get to know someone and to help lift each other up. Every business and business owner has different strengths, so by working together in a complementary way you can create synergies between your businesses (and maybe create something that you may not have attempted on your own).

I have been partnering a lot recently on different projects as a way to:

- Increase visibility: Jessica Modad and I have partnered for our InstaBrand series.

This way people that they know get to know you too! 

- Create things together: Laura Cheek and I partnered for a series on social media marketing.

Sometimes it's hard to get outside of yourself and get feedback on your own business or how to improve. Business besties and connection can open doors you've never thought of! 

- Celebrate collaboration: J Franco and I will be creating a Live video about hiring a marketing expert.

By working together, you're promoting collaboration over competition (and may accomplish some pretty nifty things).

Ways to partner with other entrepreneurs

1. Go Live together

2. Interview each other

3. Have coffee 1 on 1

4. Promote sharing of each other's social posts

5. Use as referral partners

6. Develop a co-offering

7. Create a video series together

8. Leverage a partnership network (instead of doing everything)

9. Share or pool resources

10. Ask for referrals or recommendations

11. Keep in touch

12. Co-creation of articles and content

All of these different ways can help you create a deeper business community and create an offering with greater depth to meet customer needs.

How else do you partner with other entrepreneurs?

The cost of not investing in your online presence

I've heard a lot lately that some business owners aren't interested in investing in their online presence. Online dollars can seem like a lot when you "aren't getting any website leads anyway."

Your online presence consists of any messages you put out online and can include (but isn't limited to) your website, social media channels, Google My Business, news articles, videos, and anything else an individual might find when searching for your business.

However, what does it cost you when you don't spend the money?

1. Your brand presence

A brand without an online presence, or without a presence that resonates with its target audience, isn't helping you attract new customers. It's not helping you connect on an emotional level and not doing the thing it's meant to do - let people know that your business exists.

This sometimes looks like:

- People who exclude their website from their business card

- Being too nervous or ashamed to tell people they have a website

- Going out of their way to hide that they have a website from prospects

2. Online leads

If people can't find, navigate, or connect with your online presence then you are losing potential customers. People want to know more about a business before they show up to a storefront or reach out. At this point in the 21st century, not having an online presence is downright suspicious since it makes people question if you're a real company.

This sometimes looks like:

- A lack of any online materials for people to find and search

- A website or social media channels that don't rank well enough for people to find you

- A site that is confusing about what you want people to do

3. Credibility

One of the things that a website gives your business is credibility. It shows that you've invested in your business enough to care about potential customer's impressions when they actively are looking for people that offer your types of services.

This sometimes looks like:

- People not picking up the phone because a brand or website looks like outdated

- People feeling skeptical about a business's expertise

- People looking for additional ways to validate your business's expertise (i.e. maybe I'll check the reviews feelings)

4. Trust and Interest

Despite what you may have heard, customers are paying attention - especially to video and content. Investing in these types of methods to boost your brand presence can be very effective when increasing customer interest and engagement.

81% of video viewing sessions capture people’s attention.
— Google/Ipsos, “Video Mobile Diary,” U.S., 2017

This sometimes looks like:

- Loss of interest in a category or business

- Deciding not to return to a website or social media platform

- Choosing a competitor to give their business

So, at what point does it become worth it to you?

And if you're not going to invest in your business, than how can you ask customers to?

Top Instagram apps, tools, and resources

Social media is a beast to tackle. There is so much going on, things are always changing, and it's hard to know what to use to get started with the multitude of apps out there.

In response to the confusion I've seen online and in person, I've put together a list of my top resources to have an amazing social media presence.

TOOLS FOR CREATING CONTENT

Canva

My number 1 tool for creating social media content. Use it on the desktop or mobile app to put together social media templates for any platform. Template sizes for social media posts come built in so you don't need to figure out individual photo pixels.

Motion Stills (only available for iOS)

Great app for creating boomerangs from Apple Live photos.

Video crop

For iOS
For Android

With this app, you can crop videos to fit in the Instagram frame.

Instagrids

For iOS
For Android

If you are trying to create a grid out of one photo, this app will automatically divide the photo into the sizes you need.

WordSwag

If you haven't heard of WordSwag, you need to! WordSwag is great for putting together text and photos without needing to worry about resizing or restructuring you content. You just type in the text you want, choose a photo, and choose your text style. The app automatically generates the photo for you!

PicFlow (iOS only)

Put together photos with music for a slideshow. You can make a slideshow of just about anything, and add in some music off of your phone. They also include standard tracks in case you don't have music on your device.

Boomerang

For iOS
For Android

Turn small movements into a GIF! I love boomerang for adding a fun touch to my Instagram feed.

Pic Collage

For iOS
For Android

Want to make a grid of photos? Use this app to turn any collection into a collage.

Places to find stock photos

When putting together templates for your social media posts, try to use your own pictures. For industries that lack photos, or are working on collecting some, I've gathered a few stock photography websites together.

Stock photos should not have any copyright restrictions in place when you are using them for your account. These are my top sites for finding free stock photos that have a creative commons license.

I love using stock photos since marketing can be under an NDA or clients don't want you to release ongoing projects. Check out how I've incorporated stock photos into my Instagram:

TOOLS FOR SCHEDULING OR POSTING CONTENT

Repost for Instagram

For iOS
For Android

Allows you to re-post content from other people's pages. Make sure you get their permission before re-posting any of their content!

Later

App and site to schedule Instagram posts. If you are pressed for time, this will prompt you when to post and let you see what your grid will look like if you post in a any given order.

TOOLS FOR INCREASING ENGAGEMENT

Hashtags.

One app I like to use for hashtags is Tagomatic. For more about hashtags, read my complete guide to hashtags.

Tagomatic

Allows you to find and save hashtags for the account you are working on. It also recommends additional hashtags to use based on your search.

Followers

The app will let you see who is following yo back, who has unfollowed you, and who is following you that you are not following back.

I hope this list of recommended tools has helped you jumpstart your social media strategy! What other apps do you love to use?

Want to read more about Instagram?

How to Gain Instagram Followers

Tips on Defining your Brand on Instagram

How to drive social media engagement

21 ways to increase your site traffic

"How do I increase my site traffic?"

I have heard this question several times in the past week and wanted to put something together to help small business owners to increase their site traffic.

Site traffic is important since online sales can be a numbers game.

Online conversion rates are incredibly low, around 2.95%, so increasing the amount of people coming to your site is key.

Here are 21 ways to increase your site traffic

1. Guest blogging

While this is no guarantee of traffic, it can help increase it if you are posting in place where:

  • Your target customer hangs out

  • The blog owner actively promotes their content on social media

  • The blog following is engaged with new posts

  • The content is related to what you do

  • The site receives a significant amount of traffic (if you want to check it out, see Similar Web.)

Guest blog posting can be a lot of fun, but does require time and commitment to see results from.

Suggestion: Try getting one guest blog post per month with the above parameters in mind.

2. Social media marketing

Use the power of social media to direct people to your site! You can use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, or LinkedIn. Before choosing which ones to concentrate on, ask yourself:

  • Which ones make the most sense for my business?

  • Which ones are my ideal clients on?

  • Which ones best showcase what I have to offer?

Suggestion: Try a couple out and see which ones offer the best results. For social media to work though, you need to do more of this.

3. Content marketing

Blogging on topics that are of interest to your target market can help them stumble upon your site. By answering their questions, before they need to reach out and ask you directly, you are showing that you are knowledge, interested, and concerned with the customer's point of view. It can also help you since people also search for their problem, not necessarily the name of your business as their solution.

Suggestion: Include blog posts on your site that give in-depth answers to some of the concerns you've received from customers.

4. Advertise online

Placing advertisements in social media or as part of a search engine can increase the number of people coming to your site. Keep in mind that conversion rates are very low for advertisements, and that people may bounce out of your site if what they land on isn't what they expect.

Suggestion: Test out advertising on different platforms and see which one is offering real conversions for you.

5. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Make sure your site includes your industry, product, and any additional keywords involved in purchasing your product or service. This can be done on-page for your website. However, for increased SEO results, you may want to look into hiring an SEO expert.

Suggestion: Make sure your website includes the keywords related to your industry so people can find you. Targeting long-tail keywords is a good idea.

Some additional changes you can make to increase your site traffic:

6. Include your website link in your email footer

7. Include your website link on your business card

8. Direct potential clients or customers to purchase from your website

9. Ask people to share your content on social media that has a link to your site

10. Email your friends and family about your business and ask them to share it with others (include a link)

11. Create a subscriber list for your blog or services and email market to your followers

12. Get listed in online directories (Google My Business, Yelp, Whitepages, etc.)
13. Invite others to blog on your site or be featured and then ask them to share the post

14. Incorporate video into your site (Google loves and prioritizes sites that include videos)

15. Get your name out locally or in your industry with speaking gigs or networking events

16. Share your blog posts or advice in social media groups and conversations (Facebook Groups, LinkedIn Groups, Twitter Chats, etc.)

17. Be a guest on or start your own podcast

18. Find other people in your industry who can act as a referral for you, and you for them

19. Comment on blogs that your target customer would be interested in

20. Reach out to social media influencers to post about your product or service

21. Do something worth talking about

6 reasons why you should brand your Instagram

Instagram is one of the best places that you can promote your brand. It's not too crowded with brands, is great for showcasing a product or service in video or photos, and has an algorithm that makes it easier to reach your ideal customer.

Why you should brand your Instagram

6 compelling statistics on connecting with your following

  • Organic marketing reach on Facebook has been down 63% over the past 4 years, while Instagram's organic marketing has increased by 115%.

  • Instagram users are more than twice as likely as Facebook users to regularly engage with brands.

  • Instagram has 58% more engagement per follower than Facebook.

  • Only 36% of marketers are using Instagram (compared to 93% of marketers on Facebook).

  • Instagram has a higher average order value than Facebook ($65 vs $55).

  • Brands on Instagram reach 100% of their followers, compared to 6% on Facebook.

Statistics are courtesy of Selfstartr.

If you're not sure if Instagram is for you, ask yourself these two questions.

  • Does my brand lend itself to visual presentation?

  • Do I want to connect and engage with potential customers?

Those may be only two reasons, but they are two powerful ones. They could change the amount of people you reach quickly, and allow you to show your product or service in the best light possible.

Some quick Instagram etiquette tips

If you're not doing these things, it may be hurting your online branding efforts.

Ask before re-posting other people's content.

Make sure you ask someone if you can use their photos and then attribute them in your caption. It's only fair to give someone credit for the hard work they've done to brand their feed with amazing content. Give the compliment of sharing and tagging them, it's what you want others to do for you.

Be online to create relationships.

Comment on other people's posts. Genuinely engage with them about their businesses, brands, and services. The more you give in your relationships online, the more likely it will come back to you in a positive way.

Don't spam people.

We know that your account is about your business, but you shouldn't be yelling, "Buy from me!" in your captions for every post. It's too much to constantly be hearing about how people need to buy from you. Try sharing content from people outside your business and acting like a full brand (not just a salesperson).

Want to know more about how you can increase your engagement on Instagram?

Read more here about how to gain followers

Read on here about how to define your brand on Instagram.

Wish your Instagram presence was more consistent, cohesive, and effective?
Check out my Instagram Branding Package to increase your #InstaGame!

7 steps to finding and reaching people where they are

Now that you have an idea of what your target audience is experiencing, you need to figure out where they are.

With these seven steps, you can know where to find your ideal customers and select how to reach them.

1. Know your ideal customers.

Know who's shopping in your stores or browsing on your site. Know their demographic information (location, age, gender, income range) so that you can start to get a handle on the psychographic profile. Start with:

  • Google Analytics - This tool is wonderful for understanding who is browsing your site. Maybe all purchases are from women 24-35? That will help you begin to identify just where they might be located.

  • Facebook and Instagram Insights - See who is following you on these platforms to add additional insights to your ones from Google.

Find out:

Are you attracting two different audiences? And are the people engaging with your content different than the ones that are buying?

If the people buying are different than the ones following, start to adjust your content and targeting to shift your audience. Target one more likely to convert.

Do you have multiple audiences?

Find out if you're having different customers for different items. If all women purchase your purses, but all men are buying your scarves then you will have two audiences to contend with.

2. Find psychographic information

Both Google Analytics and Facebook will provide psychographic information in their insights.

Google will show you:

  • What people were searching for

  • How many people from social media were interested in your content

  • The general trends in what people were searching for and interested in when they found your site

Facebook will show you:

  • Which types of content are receiving more engagement

  • Use Facebook Graph Search to see the general content that people who are interested in your niche also like

Supplement the additional information by talking to your customers and potential surveys.

3. Talk to potential customers

The best thing you can do is to always talk to your customers. There's no getting around the fact that they are can be a great source or starting point for information. Maybe they say they always read the Sunday paper. Maybe they're addicted to Facebook. Maybe they subscribe to a certain news program.

All of these insights can help you choose a way to reach them. Take into account:

4. Narrow to your target market.

If you're reaching too broadly, narrow to the market that is converting. This may be based on a psychographic or demographic, determine which one it is to begin catering to that interest.

For example, you notice that one audience in converting more frequently and they are interested in swimming pool repair. Then develop more content around swimming pool repair for social media and your website to help them find your information.

5. Look at your competitors

They may have a good handle on where their own customers are. If they are investing heavily in print of Instagram ads or Facebook, see if that opportunity fits with your own demographic. If not, you may have a slightly different market and can reach people in a space you can own.

6. Investigate the demographic following of different mediums.

Some psychographic segmentation can make media choices easier. You may know that people buy motorcycles and have said they read Motorcycle Weekly. Then you already have a place to start, content to work from, and a place to start reaching customers.

For more vague psychographic information, like knowing someone is interested in sports, it can be much harder to narrow down where to meet your customers (simply because of the plethora of options).

Prioritize and systematize your search by:

  • Limiting yourself to the forms of communication that your target audience would be interested in. If they won't touch a computer, than skip the process of identifying website or online ad placement.

  • Starting with psychographic options. For example, if your customers are interested in sports and only like online mediums, find and read the media kits for prospective media buys in online sports news and magazines.

  • Comparing your media kits to your demographic information. Maybe these people are all interested in sports, but only a couple have a large female audience that you want to target. Focus on the options that match your psychographic and demographic profile.

  • Prioritizing each type of buy based on reach and price. Do a little math to determine what you would be paying per customer reached.

7. Choose a combination of mediums, across different media, to create a portfolio of ways to reach people.

Don't rely on just one method to reach customers.

Don't put all your eggs in one basket. You want to have a variety of ways to reach people so you can adjust your marketing across these different channels.

Vary your messaging to reach people at different stages of awareness.

Some people have heard of you, others haven't. Some are aware of the problem you're addressing, other's aren't. Educate and help your audience understand the problem you solve before selling them on the solution.

Use appropriate messaging on each medium.

A message should be crafted differently for Facebook vs. Instagram. Choose your words wisely so that you have the best chance to convert.

3 common missteps when meeting people where they are (and how to combat them)

Your goal with messaging is to reach people where they are. To do this, think about answering:

  • Where do your ideal customers eat?
  • Where are they located?
  • Do they commute?
  • What's their day look like?
  • What are they excited about?

These are just a few things you should know about reaching your target audience. Developing buyer personas for your product lines will help clear up targeting issues and bring more focus into who you are trying to reach for a particular advertisement. Your personas should be specific, understandable, and executable.

When deciding exactly where to meet your buyer personas where they're at, so they don't need to hunt for your information, there are three common issues that need to be considered.

What you need to keep in mind includes:

People have short - squirrel.

People needed to be grabbed and grabbed quickly. People decide whether or not they will continue watching an advertisement in 3 seconds (or 8 seconds max which is shorter than a goldfish). That means you have 3 seconds during a video advertisement to convince someone to continue watching.

Other types of advertisements, outside of digital, have little research into how much people are continuing to read or engage with them. Print magazines gauge impressions - number of people who they have likely reached - rather than being able to say someone looked at your ad for 10 seconds.

 
You only have eight seconds to grab someone's attention.

You only have eight seconds to grab someone's attention.

 

Ways to combat short attention spans:

  • Create content that engages quickly. Using cuts of video, attention grabbing headlines, and visuals can help someone decide an article is worth reading.
  • Make articles accessible. Minimize the number of clicks it takes to engage with your content. Like online shopping, online reading can be hindered by an increased number of clicks.
  • Create a brand promise around engagement. If your content is always engaging to your target audience, they will be more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt for a given piece of content. They will also come back for new content rather than needing to reach out to them every time.

Noise is everywhere.

There are a couple different types of noise. Noise can be that there are too many messages vying for attention in the same space. It can be literal noise when it comes to someone receiving the ad. Noise is what interferes with someone receiving a message as intended.

This is the Shannon-Weaver model of communication. It describes how messages have issues reaching a selected individual. More stressing is the Interactive Model of Communication, insinuating that there is noise around the entire process of communication.

Ways to combat noise:

  • Choose the right time and place to interact. Understand your target audience's limitations and biases to make sure you're reaching them at a prime time for minimizing noise. Do your research in advance and test your ads to see what's working.
  • Be engaging. Exceptional content can help cut through the noise of a overwhelmed psyche. It's one of the reasons Buzzfeed rose to popularity.
  • Be different. One of the issues with noise is separating quality from a jumble of messages vying for contention. Separate your content as much as possible from what's next to you on the magazine stand, in someone's News feed, or along their drive home.

Attention is limited. Use it wisely.

People have a limited amount of time and attention to spend on an advertisement. They may be present while their is an ad going on, but there's no guarantee that they're absorbing the information. Choosing a better time of day or method of engagement can help assuage this issue.

Be careful when choosing where you're reaching customers to take into account how they might be feeling. If they're workaholics, maybe they will be working during their commute and will only skim an ad. If they're single moms, maybe they can't focus on picking up their kids from school around 3 pm rather than watching the TV that's may be running in the background. These are example scenarios - and can severely impact people's reception of your advertisement.

Ways to combat limited attention:

  • Find a better topic. People engage with content they want to engage with. Simply because you've paid for air time doesn't mean people are listening. If you've chosen a paid way into impressions or reach, impress with content that grabs attention by being relevant.
  • Find a time when your target audience can focus. Is that late at night? Early in the morning? When they're taking a break at work? Maybe there's a particular medium they are able to focus on. Take time to know these places to make the best decisions for ad placement.
Selling with transparency

An ad is still selling you something. That's it's primary goal. But being open and honest about the product facts, minimizing puffery, and staying true to a core message make selling more transparent.

Around 50% of people trust advertising.

Ever read an ad that starts with the hard sell? Something like, "You need this product now! It will change your life! See how it changed Mary's life!"

I picture a lot of exclamation points, maybe a before and after photo, along with a "BUY NOW" in large text. While these types of advertisements must be working somewhere (it does beg the question of just how often these work), they still are bombarding the consumer.

The first thing a consumer thinks is, "That's not true." Once they identify an advertisement for what it is, they are ready to argue with it.

63% of global respondents trust or somewhat trust TV advertisements.
— Nielsen

TV was the highest of the categories. Most of traditional advertising fell closer to 50% and mobile advertisements ranged from 36-48% trust. That means:

Around half of the people seeing your advertisement don't trust its message.

Advertising on its own is not well-trusted. That's why the added effort to be transparent or to craft a well-written ad like the one above is so important. Overcoming consumers' predisposition for skepticism can be done by disarming them.

Disarm distrust by being transparent, persuading with honesty, and doing the unexpected.

Being transparent.

Acknowledging that an advertisement is trying to sell you is one way for someone to leave their skepticism behind. They are ready for you to say exactly what they expect. Something like, "My product is the best because..." Stop that conversation and puffery to start opening up the consumer to being persuaded.

An ad that admits it's an ad (when it's done right) is able to be transparent while still managing to sell you on an idea. In that vein, I wanted to share this advertisement from Bill Bernbach:

Bill Bernbach ad.jpg

I enjoy ads that are self-deprecating or self-aware. They acknowledge what they are and what they are trying to accomplish. Not all advertisements are created equal, some are better than others at prompting action, telling a story, and selling by showing.

 
dISTRust.png
 

Persuade with honesty.

Honesty sells. People want their advertising to tell them the truth, not have a hovering asterisk over every claim. VW does it well by selling an "ugly" car. Or advertising without advertising.

Volkswagen-advertisement-print-7.jpg

Do the unexpected.

Tell people that your car is ugly. Tell them you hate being sold to as well. Tell them you're trying to sell them something. 

By doing the unexpected and telling the truth, minimizing "sales language", and building a connection with the customer, you are building a foundation for someone to accept your message.

21 ways to build hype for your product launch

About to launch a new product? Get your customers to market for you and inspire user generated content to get your launch going.

Product launches are vital to the success of a new product or brand. They can determine whether people are knocking down your door to purchase when you open, or if you're spending a few more months waiting for traffic to grow.

Leveraging customers, building suspense and generating word of mouth will help you create hype to launch successfully.

 
 

In your launch efforts, include:

What your product can do for people

Answer: Why should I care? People are notoriously short on time, especially when it comes to listening to your marketing pitch. According to HubSpot, you need to capture people's attention in just the first 3 seconds of video to keep them watching for the next 30.

Keep them entertained, informed, and excited about what's coming next.

Why you created it

Did you see a need in the market? Or is it something you're trying to push rather than generate market pull?

Explain your "why" as part of your product launch branding. People are more likely to buy your "why" than just a "what."

As you're building for launch, think of a few ways that you can build hype and incite demand:

21 ways to create hype around your new product

1. Create a teaser video

2. Ask customers to submit a video saying why they love your company and why they're excited about this new product

3. Use content marketing to draw in customers experiencing pain points and then link to your sales content

4. Offer free products to customers in a giveaway

5. Post product shots and videos on social media

6. Create a count down to launch day across your platforms

7. Tease your upcoming products in your email marketing and social channels

8. Invite brand advocates to try in advance and film or broadcast their reactions

9. Invite your ideal customer to try it out and get their feedback, repurpose that content in other mediums

10. Offer an exclusive to your current customers so they can purchase before launch 

 
 

11. Post in relevant social media groups about your product, ask people to subscribe for updates

12. Create a feature video or snapshot of your upcoming products

13. Blog about the upcoming product release and send to popular and local media outlets

14. Reach out to bloggers or influencers in your field and ask them to try the product in exchange for a review

15. Put together a pop-up store and see how people react to your product, put this into promotional content

16. Get professional photos taken of your product and its use in a popular area

17. Develop a contest for current customers where the reward would be the new item or service

18. Ask your current customers to share your posts on social media for a chance to win the new item or service (or a discount)

19. Turn your product launch day into an event for current and potential customers

20. Add a landing page or cover page for your new product or service advertising that it's coming, maybe even add a form for people to subscribe

21. Try a guerilla marketing tactic

Get your customers to market for you

Word of mouth is still one of the greatest factors for people to purchase your product. Learning to leverage it for your products and company will help convince 92% of consumers reached. 

According to Nielsen:

92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising.

It's something that marketing executives see as important, but don't feel like they've mastered it. Consumers trust this type of marketing, and they consider it a more believable form of advertising, so marketers continue to improve generating word of mouth.

 
 
74% of consumers identify word-of-mouth as a key influencer in their purchasing decision.
— Ogilvy

Need more convincing? There are plenty of statistics backing up the importance of word of mouth marketing.

Also, there are large companies, even younger companies, that have succeeded in building their companies by using word of mouth instead of a large marketing budget. DropBox, Zappos, and Twitter all used word of mouth to grow rather than relying on dollars.

So, with a minimal budget and a drive to get people in-the-know about your product, or service, how can you drive word of mouth?


How to drive word of mouth

Find your advocates

Start with the people you know and that will help support your business. These are people in real life that can tell others about what you're doing and why it's great. Look for family and friends to reach and talk about what you do.

By talking to them about your business, you're adding yourself to their consideration set when they hear someone in need and can refer them to you. Explain to them what you do and why so they have a place of reference for anyone they speak with. Maybe leave them with the place you want future customers to go, like your website or address.

Start with 10 people who are your personal cheerleaders. After you've spoken to them (preferably in person and not a mass message) about promoting your business or product then think about the next group you can reach out to. Maximize your personal network.

 
 

Ask people to share your message

Once you've spoken to your advocates, ask them to share your message or to interact with your business. If they love you and your product, this shouldn't be a large request. They should want to help you succeed.

Especially when launching, use this tactic to increase your reach without using a large budget to amplify your voice. Some budget behind a launch, to boost or advertise, would be ideal. But you can start building buzz the old fashioned way with people first.

You can start with something small like sharing a Facebook post, forwarding an email, or tagging a friend in an Instagram post. The small start will make them more open to future requests.

Make an ask of your tribe

If you have a solid base of followers, ask them for a favor. It can be through social media or in person. Ask them to like or follow you on social media or subscribe to your newsletter. Find a way to continue interacting with them.

If these are the same people you've already spoken with and asked to share your message, go a little bigger. Psychologically, people are more inclined to say yes to a larger request after saying yes to a smaller one.

If this is a larger ask, give a reason why you are asking them for this. Explain why it's important for them to complete the action: showing their support, so you can continue to get funding, etc.

User generated content

User generated content is a larger request that needs to be incentivized. Offer people something in exchange for their time and effort creating content for you. This is a great way to extend the word of mouth since people will be sharing in their own network about your products or company.

Some potential ways to gain user generated content:

  • Give free items away to influencers for their social posts
  • Offer a giveaway
  • Offer a discount for engagement

How else have you increased word of mouth for your products?

How to leverage user generated content

User generated content is created by your brand followers when they use your hashtag or location in the post to social media. These pieces of content are searchable and increase your brand's social proof. Leverage these new pieces of content across your social networks to increase sales, customer engagement, and trust.

Why should you have your customers enhance your marketing?

92% of consumers trust recommendations from others, even people they don’t know, over branded content.
— Expertcity

Even over your other content, consumers are more likely to respond to content from other people. This is why review websites like Yelp are so popular - they use popular opinion, and opinions from thousands of everyday people, to develop scores and ratings. People trust this since it's another user recommendation, rather than a company's pushed message.

Of millennials and baby boomers, individuals are more likely to trust user generated content. While there are some differences in the type of content each generation prefers which will impact the type of campaign you choose to run and on what platform, they both rely on other consumers over a brand.

Sites with featured UGC saw a 20% increase in return visitors and up to a 90% increase on the time spent on the site.
— OfferPop

User generated content has shown increased purchases, trust, and returns to a site. With these kinds of numbers, it's surprising that only 17% of brands are telling consumers what type of content they want customers to create.

 How do you request user-generated content?

Inspire people to generate content for you. A simple request often isn't enough to receive a response. Any requests for content on social media should be considered for boosting or promoted in other ways - like on your site or at your location.

  • Include a branded hashtag. This way, people will be able to find other types of related content. It's a great way to track submissions as well.
  • Be clear about what you're asking for. Do you want them to take lifestyle photos of the product or generate a video? Do you want a specific item? Be specific about what you want consumers to generate for your brand.
  • Leave some creative room. When you start to get too specific, people are turned off by the specificity of the task. Rather than asking for a 90-second video demonstrated the features and benefits, ask for people to show them how the product helps them every day.
  • Specify where you want them to submit. If you are leveraging Instagram, make sure to tell people to post to Instagram. Think about where you want this content to be housed. For example, if all of your quality leads come from Facebook, then think about how you can have content there.
  • Show people what you want. Include a photo you've taken on behalf of your brand to show people what type of content you are looking for.

If you need some great examples of user generated campaigns, see these top brands.

What do you do with user generated content?

If you've asked people to create content on behalf of your brand and they have stepped up, make sure you are leveraging this moving forward. Since people respond to it and it's a great way to increase brand trust think about using it for your site, social channels, and communications.

Twitter

  • Retweet popular posts that include your branded products or hashtag
  • Comment and engage with people that generated content
  • Turn tweets into re-posted images on Facebook or Instagram
  • Embed positive tweets into your site

Facebook

  • Create galleries of user generated content
  • Refer people to the place where content is housed, if you have a dedicated micro site or hashtag on Instagram
  • Re-post user generated content to your feed for all of your fans to see
  • Use Facebook Live to encourage engagement with the campaign or contest that is helping your brand generate user content

Instagram

  • Communicate and comment on photos created
  • Re-post to your feed people that have the best daily or weekly content
  • Use a consistent hashtag for the entire campaign so that the content can live on with minimal searching on your end

*Don't forget to give a shout out when reusing content on social media by including the original user's handle.

Think about all the places you can leverage this content! Cross-posting across social media is just one way to continue leveraging content. Based on the terms of submission, it can also be used as part of your print publications or on your site in the place of product photos.

You can also use these posts as customer proof for your brand. People are persuaded by other people more than brands. Get people talking about your contest or campaign to continue driving results.

Your mission's communications should reflect your audience

Your mission should live in the heart of your brand's communications. It should reflect the people it affects. Brands are growing in this area by developing new content, new messaging, and new advertising to help convey the meaning behind brands.

Some brands are pushing the envelope further than others, ready to embrace changes to their image. They are embracing inclusiveness and diversity that adds to their brand's overall meaning.

Keep in mind

  • For larger brands, it may be an offshoot highlighted in a campaign, but it shouldn't flip flop. It shouldn't be a quick grab for some PR. It should be wholly a part of what your brand stands for.
  • Your mission should live on your site or your social media as a continual conversation and reminder for what you stand for. It's not a one and done communication.
  • Your communication about your mission and vision needs to reflect people you want to identify with it. It adds to the consistency and believability of your message.

Diversity

Ads have always reflected culture, but black millennials are asking brands for more. Three-quarters of them would like to see brands better represent diversity in ads, and 70% say they are more likely to buy from a brand that takes a stand on race-related issues.
— Google

Think With Google presents great information about how advertising can move forward with the times, but the message needs to start with the brand and then be conveyed with advertising. Brands taking a more visible stance on diversity will become more of the norm as the US minority population grows and will exceed the majority.

One of my favorite commercials that took steps forward for diverse families was from Cheerio's.

Pride

Never forget that your brand can make a difference. While it can be done in plenty of wrong ways (i.e. Starbucks), some brands are getting it right. Agencies are taking notice of how taking a stance is becoming an important part of brands connecting with their audience.

Skittle did a great job of connecting with the pride community in the UK. For the pride celebration, they decided to just let the pride community celebrate the rainbow rather than Skittles' own rainbow. At the parade, they gave out black and white bags of Skittles. Their goal:

But this Pride, only one rainbow deserves to be the center of attention—yours. And we’re not going to be the ones to steal your rainbow thunder, no siree.
— Skittles

Beauty

Beauty publishers are highlighting inclusivity in their work, trying to make their own image reflect their consumers. By doing so, they have helped create a greater link to their customers and opened the conversation about individuality.

For decades, [this content] was about comparison — an ideal of perfection that was homogenous. As we’ve been given more platforms both on and offline to explore the spectrum of what beauty means, it’s shifted the conversation to individuality.
— Elyssa Starkman, Beautycon’s head of content

Growing out of the dated content like "perfect beach bodies," beauty publishers are reviving their content with a fresh take on diversity, individuality, and political activism.