So, your local search marketing is all in order. Your ranking is improving, and citation building is an integral part of your strategy.
That's great, but to build a competitive strategy, your business needs a little something extra.
Enter user-generated content (content created by customers and followers - also called UGC).
If you know the right places to search, you can quickly find and share content that was created by customers and social media followers. This is an easy way to find marketing content to share with consumers when you're strapped for time and money.
What kinds of content do you already have that you can use for your small business's marketing strategy?
1. Build Your Online Reputation by Sharing Customer Reviews
Online reviews can have a big impact on your business's bottom line - research shows that 74% of consumers trust reviews as much as they trust recommendations from friends and family.
Reviews can also help boost your local search ranking - but what are you supposed to do with a new review after the customer posts it?
Why not get some extra marketing magic out of your online reviews by sharing them with your followers?
When a happy customer reviews your business, you can share that review across your social media pages, highlighting what what customers love about your company.
You can talk about how great your business is all you want, but to really build trust with consumers, you need to show why your customers love you, and that's a lot easier if you have a review marketing tool that can gather and share all those reviews (across social media and your website) for you.
We use a platform called Renown, which helps our clients get more reviews and also shares those reviews.
2. Get More Follower Engagement With Social Media Content Curation
Did you know that 33% of consumers use social media to find new businesses?
Given this, you need to be active on social media - but what should you post? User-generated content is a great place to start.
Liking and commenting on posts your followers tag your business in should already be a part of your social media marketing strategy, but you can also share your followers' content as an effortless way to add more content to your social pages.
For instance, users on Instagram can tag your locations (similar to checking in on Facebook) in their photos.
So, if you search for "Starbucks" on Instagram and tap the "Places" tab, you'll get a list of Starbucks locations near you. If you click on a location, you can see who's added that location to their photo.
Try this with your business and see who's tagged your location in their photos - if you see a happy customer has recently posted a high-quality image of the products or services at your business, repost that photo (with permission from the customer) and tag the customer.
Don't forget to like the photo and follow the customer too.
The same goes for Facebook - if your followers are tagging your business in photos, feel free to share those photos with a personalized caption.
This will help provide fresh content for your social profiles, without adding a bunch of work for you.
Running low on user-generated content? Here are a couple of ways to write a single post and get a bunch of content from it.
- Ask your followers to share photos they've taken at your business (let them know you'll be sharing their photos on your social networks). Pick a three or four of the best and share them over the next few weeks.
- You can also host contests, asking customers to share photos they've taken at, or in, your business for the chance to win a free or discounted product or service.
To make this even easier, you should have a tool that helps you monitor your business's social media mentions.
We use a platform called Radiate to manage our clients' mentions across Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+. You can learn more about how we use Radiate here.
3. Customers and Local Influencers are the Secrets to Writing Great Blog Posts
Writing blog posts can take a lot of time - you have to find ideas, research them, then somehow squeeze the time into your day to actually write the post.
It can seem daunting, but content marketing is 62% cheaper than other forms of marketing - and can bring in 3x more leads.
Luckily, it's not too difficult to crowdsource ideas and use user-generated content (content your customers or followers post) to create blog posts.
How to Crowdsource Blog Content Ideas
There are a few easy ways to get ideas for blog posts.
1. Answer customer questions
You probably have a mental list of all the questions your clients seem to ask over and over, right? Use those questions to fuel your content marketing. The question can be your headline and the answer is your blog post.
While this isn't crowdsourcing a full blog post, if you've been answering the same question for years, it probably won't take you long to write up a short blog post that answers the question.
2. Follow industry or competitor blogs
I'm not telling you to copy exactly what your competitors are doing, but you can always read what they're writing to get ideas for your blog.
You might see something the blog post mentions in passing that you'd like to expand on in your blog.
Note: You can also use your own content in the same way
This is something I do. For example, we had a recent blog post about how to reply to every type of review, which made me think that I should expand on the negative reviews section. So, I added a post called "Do you really need to reply to all of your business's negative reviews?" to my editorial calendar for the future.
3. To easily source full blog posts, you can find local bloggers who are willing to write for you
Try this: search Google for "[location] blogger." If I search for "Columbus blogger," I see Columbus bloggers and lists of blogs to follow in my search results. Find a couple of bloggers you'd like to see write for your blog, go to their contact page and ask if they'd be interested in contributing.
You may need to offer them some compensation, but they might accept a discount in exchange for a short blog post.