As social media managers, we spend the vast majority of our days carefully crafting posts designed to elicit likes, inspire conversation and brighten peoples’ days. But while stunning images and clever puns can go a long way towards building brand equity, there’s no denying that the true money shots are the ones your fans are snapping.
It’s easy to get caught up in the specifics of your expertly curated content plan – after all, you’ve probably been through about 414 reverts to get it where it is and ain’t NOBODY messing with that. Nobody. But while your artful prose and agonizingly complex mosaic is worth preserving, it might be time to loosen the reins a little and let your fans take over from time to time.
Don’t worry, your creative ideas are still very much sought after. However, social media should never be a monologue, and by inviting your fans to join the conversation, you can give your brand a significant boost – and the best part is, the hard work is already done for you!
Simply put, today’s consumers have mastered the art of tuning out adverts, scrolling over sponsored posts and waiting the requisite 5 seconds before they can devour that latest cat video on YouTube. So while you might well marvel at the quality of the content you’ve drummed up this month, chances are the picture someone’s friend posted of their lunch is still going to score more likes than you.
The fact of the matter is that, whilst your followers will throw out an occasional appreciative ‘like’, they’re just never going to be as invested in you as the people they know and like. You know, in real life. An artful flatlay or well-comprised OOTD is all well and good, but what relevance does it ultimately have to your audience?
It’s time for marketers to realise that our customers are rapidly becoming our brand’s leading advocates. Now, there’s no need to toss out your content calendar just yet, but it might serve you well to make some space for a new generation of amateur content creators.
Amplify brand loyalty
There’s no better way to showcase your fans’ appreciation for your brand and your product than by featuring their photos on social media. By encouraging your customers to share their stories with you, you are also encouraging them to use your product more frequently, and in so doing, you’re emphasising the value and purpose of your brand in their daily lives. Sharing user stories with your broader audience can inspire your followers to try new things and create interesting posts of their own. Also, they’ll love you for it.
Retain your audience
Now, in no way are we implying that people are vain (but they really are), but for an ardent Instagrammer, there’s nothing more gratifying than seeing their image being showcased by their favourite brands. Not only will they tell all of their friends about their newfound stardom, immediately prompting them to check out your brand’s social media accounts, but they’ll also be further encouraged to share more content about your brand in the hope of being featured again. So make your UGC work for you – a little regram goes a long way.
Reach more people
Strive to create a culture within your social media community that promotes regular UGC creation. By encouraging your fans to post positive, unique or inspirational content about your brand, you can reach thousands of people that you otherwise wouldn’t have, and boost your brand’s visual ‘word of mouth’. So drop your ego at the door, and let your fans help to earn you those sought-after followers and engagement rates.
Very few of your customers have access to studios with proper lighting and the latest range of Nikon camera attachments. That may not sound like the recipe for a winning shot to you, but the fact that their images are taken in their kitchens, offices, driveways or on their bedroom floors may be in your best interest after all. This is because when you take away all of the special effects, you are left with the real deal. No tricks. No trimmings.
Consumers today are not as easily charmed by gifs and cinemagraphs as they once were. They may slip you a like here and there, but all they really want to know is whether your product really is all that it’s cut out to be. So although UGC is not designed for advertising, it can fast become your most effective form of authentic promotion.