Social media is an extremely effective tool for growing your brand. It is important to develop and maintain a consistent presence through your own accounts, but effective social media strategy doesn’t end there. In order to grow, you’ll need to reach new audiences. You can pay for social media advertising, or you could get your existing consumers to give you some airtime with their own audiences.
Below, we’ll explore a few techniques that can help increase the frequency at which consumers share content regarding your brand.
Invest in Your Physical Spaces
If you are a retailer, or maintain some form of customer facing physical space, make it photo worthy. Allow your space(s) to be an experience in and of themselves. If you’re a chain, embrace the idea of each location being a unique one. Seek out alternative real-estate. Don’t shy away from renovations; this means increased opportunity for brand expression.
Create unique architectural pieces, invest in bespoke furniture and accessories. Include plenty of mirrors and other reflective surfaces (for selfies, of course). Design your space to be easily updatable, and to serve multiple purposes. If you aren’t particularly design inclined, work with a team of space planners. Investments here can and should be considered marketing effort.
Invest in Your Packaging & Presentation
Not in retail? No physical presence? Ensure that your print material, marketing collateral, and delivery are pristine. If you are DTC, and ship product to your consumer, how can you make your delivery stand out from the rest of their physical correspondence?
It’s likely not going to be through using any old brown cardboard box. Think of the receipt of your delivery as an event, an experience. Something that your customers can look forward to being consistently unique and fun. There are all kinds of packaging manufacturers out there, work with one to design something that is representative of your brand and products.
A brightly colored, patterned envelope or box with metallic tape is much more worthy of an Instagram story than a standard USPS supplied mailer. But, this might not be your brand’s image—so what is?
Curate Your Own #CustomHashtag
In addition to making your physical spaces and packaging relevant to your brand, the genesis of a #CustomHashtag will further encourage your consumers to share content about your brand. It can be printed on your packaging, made into a sticker and stuck on a mirror or two around your store, included on business cards, and even highlighted on your restaurant’s menu.
This allows your consumers, and potential ones, to peek inside your community. They can explore the #CustomHashtag to see what kind of people use your product, how they use it, who goes to your locations, and what they do there.
The best part of a #CustomHashtag is that it allows you to see these things as well. This is a great way to engage in social listening. And, to repurpose some of the best content onto your own channels. With permission of course.
As social media becomes more and more crowded with overly edited, branded content: user generated content (UGC) is what stands out. Seeing this shared and repurposed UGC on your brand’s social channels further incites the desire for your audience to share their own. It sends the message that real people really use and enjoy your brand, and that you are an active member of the community built around it.
Before launching your new #CustomHashtag, you’ll want to make sure it isn’t already in use. And, that it isn’t too long or intricate. It needs to make sense for your brand, and should be something easily integrated into the captions of users worldwide.
It might seem kind of forward at first, but as long as you aren’t making it a requirement, it is totally fine. On your receipts, you could print a brief message reminding customers about your #CustomHashtag, and ask them to share their experience online. This is done blatantly for reviews, and if people love your brand/product: they will be more than happy to do so.
What About The Cons?
Well, not everything shared to social media will be explicitly relevant to your brand, or hold it in the best light. Sometimes angry customers will take to social media using your hashtags, or handles, to ‘put you on blast.’ You should reach out to these consumers in hopes of resolving any customer service issues (if they’re genuine). But if not, you and your audience will likely both be able to tell. Sometimes, groups of people with a vendetta for your brand may engage in #HashtagHacking, flooding it with counterproductive content. However, as long as you’re acting ethically and responsibly this shouldn’t be a problem.
Don’t let this fear hold you back from employing an otherwise highly effective tactic.
Do you see the value in user generated content? What are some ways that you find best encourage UGC? Let’s leave some ideas in the comments below!