Instagram and other social media platforms can be powerful tools to promote your small business. But that power lies not so much in what you post, but in what you can encourage others to post about you as part of these social communities. To grow your Instagram audience, you need strategies to encourage this brand-sharing behavior.
User-generated content is what you want.
That’s when others appreciate your brand enough to create content around it. This UGC provides social proof that has the power to turn complete strangers into customers, generate steadfast brand loyalty, and act like a flashing arrow pointing at your brand online.
Here’s how to get your customers to create it for you.
1. Giveaways & Contests
Wondering how to use promotional products to reach a small business audience? Link promo product giveaways to social media to generate user-generated content. Get more ROI out of both. Invite customers to take pictures of your promo item and post it on IG with a branded hashtag to earn a discount.
Or run a contest for the best picture containing your promotional item and offer the winner an even bigger prize. Make that prize something that will generate some buzz and get the word out to get the ball rolling.
Then watch your giveaway take on a life of its own along with lots of UGC now all over IG.
2. Research Images They Share
What’s the top startup mistake? Not knowing your audience, right? So before you spend money on any kind of promotion, make sure you understand the kinds of images they share on the social media site you plan to launch this campaign. Search by location, hashtag, brand name, and other related identifiers to find out. Then tie that into your USG generating campaign.
- What are they sharing pictures of?
- Who is most likely to share content in your industry? Teens, DIYers, Fashionistas, Moms
- Where are people sharing? From vacations? The office? Outdoor gym? Certain types of events?
- When do they share? Explore seasonal differences in sharing patterns. They’re probably not sharing beach pics in the middle of winter unless they’re longing for warmer days.
- How do they share? How is your audience using Instagram or Facebook? How can you tap into their natural sharing habits?
3. Integrate Social Media with Your Physical Location
Add signs that cleverly invite people to take pics in your store and tag them with a branded hashtag. Make your store photo-friendly and create displays that make people want to share their shopping experience.
4. Be a Good Host
Host a special fund-raising event or showcase your new product line. Make it picture perfect and encourage social media. To make the event special, invite and pay an influencer that your audience cares about to attend the event.
Now, you have people taking pictures of themselves with the celebrity, sharing them on social media, and promoting your businesses as a fun, trendy place to be and buy.
5. Channel the Power of Influencers
You may think they’re famous for nothing. But most influencers are some of the hardest-working people you’ll ever meet. They’ve hustled to grow their online presence and monetize it. It’s a business. But they also hold a lot of sway over your audience. And these Internet Famous people have huge and very active audiences.
Pay influencers to share your contests and create UGC of their own. When your favorite social media personality is sharing pictures of themselves using a certain brand, now what are all of their followers who want to be just like them going to do?
And sometimes, this is less about being a fan and more about trusting an influencer’s advice because they’re an expert in their field.
You may find the real trendsetter influencers outside of your price range, but find those B- and C-list influencers are more than happy to help you out for a reasonable price. Just do your research and make sure this is someone who your customers will get excited about.
When hiring an influencer, focus on brand alignment. If you’re a straight-laced brand, and you get an outrageous Internet personality to share your brand, that’s confusing for your customers. You may even lose loyal customers.
6. Feature Customer UGC on Your Website
Put UGC front and center. Show how real people experience your brand. Regularly imbed IG posts. Create a gallery of photos of people enjoying your products or services. Ultimately, with UGC you’re selling an experience.
You’re saying, “This is how people feel when they use this product. This is how you’ll feel if you buy it.” It’s selling an idea that people want to connect to. And every business should definitely be doing more of this.